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If Ice Cream truck music creeps you out, its b/c

 
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Alias_Avi View Drop Down
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    Posted: May 13 2014 at 9:04pm
u probably knew the truth Confused



Originally posted by <a href=http://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/2014/05/11/310708342/recall-that-ice-cream-truck-song-we-have-unpleasant-news-for-youThis target=_blank rel=nofollow>NPR</a> NPR wrote:


Recall That Ice Cream Truck Song? We Have Unpleasant News For You

by Theodore R. Johnson, III

This story may well sour any pleasant childhood memories of chasing after ice cream trucks in the summer.

This story may well sour any pleasant childhood memories of chasing after ice cream trucks in the summer.


EDITOR'S NOTE: This article is about a virulently racist song. Read no further if you wish to avoid racist imagery and slurs.

"Brotha Man Love A Watermelon Ha! Ha! Ha!" merits the distinction of the most racist song title in America. Released in March 1916 by Columbia Records, it was written by actor Harry C. Browne and played on the familiar depiction of black people as mindless beasts of burden greedily devouring slices of watermelon.

I came across this gem while researching racial stereotypes. I was a bit conflicted on whether the song warranted a listen. Admittedly, though, beneath my righteous indignation, I was rather curious about how century-old, overt racism sounded and slightly amused by the farcical title. When I started the song, the music that tumbled from the speakers was that of the ever-recognizable jingle of the . (For the record, not all ice cream trucks play this same song, but a great many of them do.)

As quickly as it began, the music paused, and this call-and-response ensued:

Browne: "You Brotha Mans quit throwin' them bones and come down and get your ice cream!"

Black men (incredulously): "Ice Cream?!?"

Browne: "Yes, ice cream! Colored man's ice cream: WATERMELON!!


My mouth dropped. The music immediately resumed and so did the racism. I soon realized that the ice cream truck song was forever ruined for me, especially once the chorus began:


Brotha Man love a watermelon ha ha, ha ha!

Brotha Man love a watermelon ha ha, ha ha!

For here, they're made with a half a pound of co'l

There's nothing like a watermelon for a hungry coon


Origin Of The Song

I wondered how such a prejudiced song could have become the anthem of ice cream and childhood summers. I learned that though Mr. Browne was fairly creative in his lyrics, the song's premise and its melody are nearly as old as America itself. As often happens with matters of race, something that is rather in origin is co-opted and sprinkled with malice along the way.

For his creation, Browne simply used the well-known melody of the early 19th-century song "," which dates back to the even older and traditional British song "." The tune was brought to America's colonies by Scots-Irish immigrants who settled along the Appalachian Trail and added lyrics that mirrored their new lifestyle.

The first and natural inclination, of course, is to assume that the ice cream truck song is simply paying homage to "Turkey in the Straw," but the melody reached the nation only after it was appropriated by traveling blackface minstrel shows. There is simply no divorcing the song from the dozens of decades it was almost exclusively used for coming up with new ways to ridicule, and profit from, black people.

The &quot;Zip Coon&quot; was a blackface character who parodied a free black man attempting to conform to white high society.

The "Zip Coon" was a blackface character who parodied a free black man attempting to conform to white high society.

Library Of Congress

Blackface Minstrels Steal The Show

In the late 1820s, the music was given new lyrics that dripped with racism and titled "." The blackface character of the same name parodied a free black man attempting to conform to white high society by dressing in fine clothes and using big words. Fifty years later in postbellum America, the character became an archetype of the black urbanite and propelled minstrel shows to the height of their popularity. Zip Coon was the city-slicker counterpart to the dimwitted, rural blackface character whose name became infamous in 20th century America: Jim Crow. These two characters would often interact on stage and were the inspiration for the hugely successful Amos 'n' Andy act decades later.

The lyrics of "Zip Coon" follow the namesake through encounters with possums, playing the banjo and courting a woman whose skin was so black that he calls her "ol Suky blue skin." A century later, it was still celebrated and inspiring America's music. The recognizable melody aside, we've all sung a variation of the lyrics. The chorus goes:

O zip a duden duden duden zip a duden day.

(If this sounds similar to the Academy Award winning "," it's because that song was derived from this chorus.)

At the turn of the 20th century, one of the nation's — a postcard with racist artwork, such as bug-eyed, clown-faced blacks eating watermelon. These items were essentially the racist version of trading cards and were nearly ubiquitous. Browne meshed the theme of the popular coon cards with the familiar melody, and voila: "Brotha Man Love a Watermelon Ha! Ha! Ha!"

The ice cream crossover happened concurrently: 19th century ice cream parlors played the popular minstrel songs of the day. After World War II, the advent of the automobile and the ensuing sprawl required parlors to devise a way to take their products to customers. Ice cream trucks were the solution, and a music box was installed in them as a way to announce their presence in neighborhoods. Naturally, the traditional minstrel tunes of the previous century were employed to evoke the memorable parlor experience.

And this is the story of why our beloved ice cream truck plays blackface minstrel music that sends kids dashing into homes in a Pavlovian frenzy searching for money to buy a Popsicle.

Race, Ice Cream And America

Here in the nation's capital, the cherry blossoms have come and gone. This means the warm weather will soon bring out the ice cream trucks, and I'll be confronted once again by their inconvenient truth. It's not new knowledge that matters of race permeate the depths of our history and infiltrate the most innocent of experiences, even the simple pleasure of ice cream (who can forget Eddie Murphy's famous, NSFW routine about ?). However, when the reach of racism robs me of fond memories from my childhood, it feels intensely personal again.

Whenever I hear the music now, the antique voice laughing about Brotha Mans and watermelon fills my head. I can live with this, but what's to be done on the summer day when my children's eyes light up at the far-off sound of the familiar melody, and they dash in a frenzy toward me for change? Do I empower them with the history of our country, or encourage the youthful exuberance induced by the ice cream truck? Is it my responsibility to foul the sweet taste of ice cream with their first taste of racism?

The answer is intellectually complex, but parental intuition provides clarity. When teeth fall out, I blame the dollar under their pillow on the tooth fairy. When presents appear overnight under the fir tree, I say Santa Claus is the culprit. And so when a song about Brotha Mans and watermelon fills the suburban air, I will smile and hand over money from my pocket. The sight of my children enjoying a Good Humor ice cream bar will fight back the racist song that lampooned black people who happened to be in good humor. The delivery of the cold hard truth can wait until another day.


Take a listen below:







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Midna View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (3) Thanks(3)   Quote Midna Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 13 2014 at 9:08pm
I'm SO glad more and more people are finding out the terrible origins of that horrible song.

I shudder every time I hear it play from an ice cream truck, especially when I see innocent black children run to the truck for ice cream. Ouch
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (2) Thanks(2)   Quote carolina cutie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 13 2014 at 9:16pm

Yes Minister Reaction



Wuuuut?!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (4) Thanks(4)   Quote CLCNY20 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 13 2014 at 9:24pm
That aint the ice cream truck song I grew up with
 
this was mine
 
 
 
And, as for the one in the OP, that sh*t is "Turkey In The Straw" and some unoriginal redneck decided to muddy the words
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote HaitianDiva64 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 13 2014 at 9:24pm
They say turkey in the straw came before it tho
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (7) Thanks(7)   Quote Alias_Avi Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 13 2014 at 9:26pm
I always thought it was the...


"Do your ears hang low
Do they wobble to and fo
Can you tie them in a knot
Can you tie them in a bow..."

...song
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NadiaPost View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (7) Thanks(7)   Quote NadiaPost Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 13 2014 at 9:27pm
The icecream truck around here is playing jingle bells Bootleg
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote CLCNY20 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 13 2014 at 9:30pm
Originally posted by NadiaPost NadiaPost wrote:

The icecream truck around here is playing jingle bells Bootleg
 
LOLLOLLOLLOLCryCryLOLLOL
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote thewonderfulwa Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 13 2014 at 9:30pm
Yes Mr.Softie plays something else Ill be hearing that tune until fall damn near winter.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote ThoughtCouture Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 13 2014 at 9:30pm
OMG this must be why i HATE ice cream trucks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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