Randy and all: Can "Song of the South" be part of Wonderland Music?

I sat back and breathed a sigh of relief as I read the recent interview with Randy Thornton posted on laughingplace.com where he mentioned that a release of the "Song of the South" soundtrack was a definite interest of his. It came to me not long ago that the current Wonderland Music project might be the appropriate venue to "quietly" re-introduce some "Song of the South" recordings. If there is a problem with releasing the actual film soundtrack, WDL-4001,("licensing" issues, for instance), there's also, for instance, "Stories of Uncle Remus", ST-3907, with Dal McKennon as Uncle Remus telling the three stories from "Song of the South", interspersed by a collection of songs from the movie, most of which have already been released on CD and/or video.

As a reminder, let's not forget that two Uncle Remus tales were made available to a contempoary listening audience in the 90's by the folks at Rabbit Ears Music, who produced a wonderful series of books of timeless stories with accompanying audio/video for young and old alike; my son has grown up with them. The Uncle Remus stories were "Brer Rabbit and the Wonderful Tar Baby", and "Brer Rabbit and Boss Lion"; of course the tar baby story is in "Song of the South," here with an inspired telling by Danny Glover(never named as Uncle Remus), with original music composed and performed by blues legend Taj Mahal. The audio cassette I have of it(it may have also been available on CD, not sure) has the story on one side, and isolated music tracks on the other--an essential "Song of the South"-like recording for anyone interested in Uncle Remus/"Song of the South"/Splash Mountain.

As far as I know, no special interest group's feathers were ruffled by these releases, but then again, Rabbit Ears Music is not exactly the high profile target the Walt Disney Company is, and Danny Glover and Taj Mahal are well-respected artists in their respective fields.......

It just seems that with the Wonderland Music series successfully running, and with a DVD release of "Song of the South" apparently locked in limbo, might it be appropriate for a low-profile, so to speak, release to CD through Wonderland Music, of at least some "Song of the South" vinyl recordings? Isn't it time to hear again some stories and songs many of us have grown up with and cherish, stories and songs of meaning about one of the greatest tricksters of American folklore?


X-S Tech

Active Member
Unfortunately Disney is just an easier target. Who's going to pick on James Bond? Those films are action adventures and nobody takes them too seriously. Gone with the Wind, well MGM is no more and who do you protest to?

Disney on the other hand is held to an unrealistic standard. They are expected to not only remain wholly innocent but also keep up with the times. When they don't push the barrier and keep up with the everchanging tastes of society, they are mocked as being childish, and when they venture into more risque or simply "different" stories, often times they are told that they are being inappropriate.

I'm certain that by todays' standards, Song of the SOuth, would never be considered rascists except by the few watchdog groups who are looking for that sort of thing. And you know what Uncle Remus says: "When you go lookin' for trouble, you're probably gonna find it."
How timely--just saw that "Zip-A-Dee-Do-Dah" was voted #47 of the all-time top 100 film songs by the American Film Institute, sung by none other than the vile Uncle Remus, the evil, stereotypic character that is at the heart of the Song of the South's exile.

It's a sad statement about the schizoid morality of this country that this film is largely unviewable(but for the wonder of ebay.....), while "Blazing Saddles", with its blatant racist comments, is available in DVD at Walmart, and MTV rappers, stereotypes of their own, belch profanity, surrounded by women degraded to mindless, sexual objects--and the villainous Uncle Remus weaves tales of meaning to children who don't even distinguish him as black or white. And let's not forget who the real villains are in the Song of the South, the people to be avoided--the two poor white kids down the road.

I've quoted Conrad before......"The horror, the horror."




"Blazing Saddles," like many of Mel Brooks films, used satire and parody to remove any power from racist/bigoted thought. That's why "The Producers" and "Blazing Saddles" are comedy classics.

As for "Song of the South," having watched it not too long ago (thank god for friends with connections) I don't quite get the whole hulabaloo about it myself. I remember a few years ago someone (Jim Hill perhaps?) talking about a proposal to get it released as a 2-disc DVD set that had documentaries about the controversy, the creation, and the original folk tales that inspired the film. Personally, I would love for that to be the case- esp. if they are able to bring up the relation between the Uncle Remus tales and the Anansi the spider tales.

But since that is merely a pipe-dream, let me out my voice behind the masses wanting some of the music to come out in Wonderland release...


X-S Tech

Active Member
Blazing Saddles huh? That's a new one for me. But I'm sure that there are plenty of people who scream about that film. The simple fact that this movie contains people acting bad towards a particular Race does not make it a racist film. If that was so, "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" would be Racist films. As Bill said, Blazing Saddles pokes fun at Rascists themselves. And you can't have a racist in a film and NOT have him (or them) behave like a racist, namecalling and all.


Active Member
I think it all boils down to what X-S-Tech said...firstly, Disney is a company that is a prime target for hostility by special interest groups....it's a great way for groups to get publicity...look at the Southern Baptists. Secondly, Disney insists on doing anything to maintain its "global neighborhood" reputation....and a movie that suggests slavery or even just has the essence of inequality (i.e. the Caucasians live in the big house and the African Americans live in shacks) goes against tha "everyone is equal and the same" mentality that they try so hard to maintain.


X-S Tech

Active Member
There are black people and there are white people. There are poor black people and rich black people, poor white people and rich white people. To ignore those facts, and portray a world where those who are poor are nonexistent or shown but only if they are miserable with thier lot in life, to falsify reality because it is considered unattractive, thus handicapping societies ability to really address the problems which create the situation, that is the true racism.

Vote X-S Tech for Senate!!
I recnetly picked up a Dinah Shore compilation (Cocktail Hour series) that features a nice rendition of Sooner or Later from SOTS... (also has Lazy Countryside, Lavender Blue and Two Silouhettes).
OK everyone--Blazing Saddles brought me laughing to tears when I first saw it just after a particularly brutal college year(I needed a good laugh at that point!). It came to mind last night, not as a racist film, but as a film with some strong language and images, which if taken out of the context of the film could potentially really tick some people off. But when viewed appropriately as part of the story of a man championing a beseiged town, a classic film was created.

Unfortunately, Song of the South has not been treated this way. Certain individuals have chosen to dissect it and reassemble it into a vision of apparently monstrous proportions.

But in 2004, many of us simply just don't get it at this point; we're ready to hear from Uncle Remus again. And let's not forget that he was actually on national television last night--briefly, but a momentous occasion nonetheless!!!!

Maybe it's time to finally let him out of the closet......at least to CD......

I did read an interview with the guy who's overseeing the Disney Treasures DVD series and he seems to be trying really hard to push them into releasing SotS. It's really amazing to me that anyone could have a problem with the film. I think now it's just become a 'symbolic' issue and people have completely lost sight of the film at issue.

It's a ridiculous thing to try and censor something like this. Actually, I really haven't ever heard anyone argue against the movie; it seems more of an instance of Disney itself being overly sensitive and censoring themselves. That it took so long for the WWII stuff to reach the collector's market is ridiculous.

SotS is a great little film in which the white people are all head cases and the only people with their act together is Uncle Remus and his friends. I was a kid when it was released in the early 80's and I loved it. I came out with only the highest respect for the Remus character.

Thankfully, my parents bought me the soundtrack on vinyl at the time :)


PS. It's funny that someone mentioned Blazing Saddles, as I've seen it on *ABC Family* several times whilst channel surfing recently. ABC Family?? Now I think it's a pretty funny movie but geez not exactly for the kids...

Jessica L

Mel Brooks just makes fun of everybody - so nobody complains. The Producers alone (both movie and musical) makes fun of just about every type of person out there. That's why he's a genius - and why I love his work so much (and why I'm going back to NY in August to see that awesome show for a third time).

I've been rooting for SotS to come to VHS/DVD for years. I remember after my first ride on Splash Mountain, I ran to the gift shop to see if they had a copy of the movie. I know I've seen parts of it and I even recall watching the Tar Baby cartoon at a local library (and this was the late 80's/early 90's). It's time to stop being so PC Disney and let us enjoy this timeless treasure!

And like they say in Avenue Q, "Everyone's a little bit racist." ;D



Lots of Disney fans would love to see SONG OF THE SOUTH on DVD, and it would surely make a mint for the company. Even with that profit incentive, they haven't released it, so that fact alone sheds light on how delicate an issue the movie is. Maybe reading this article on the TVparty.com site might help put it in perspective. This article is about the radio and TV series "Beulah," which for a time starred Hattie McDaniel, who played Aunt Tempy in Song of the South. There are those who object to any and all depictions of stereotyping and racism, including satirical ones like "Blazing Saddles" and "All in the Family." I'm not agreeing, I'm just trying to understand, as I grew up watching SONG OF THE SOUTH and listening to the record, too.


Active Member
> Even with that profit incentive, they haven't
> released it, so that fact alone sheds light on
> how delicate an issue the movie is.

Only because they're making it a delicate issue. OK yes, no matter what, SOMEBODY is going to complain because of their interpretation that Uncle Remus et al were slaves or ex-slaves, or their coloquialisms (sp?) or whatever. But you can't tell me that if Disney were to do a tasteful introduction of the movie, narrated by a well-respected African American performer, where they "bared all" and then gave a percentage of the profits to the NAACP or some such group, that the "uprising" would be minimal.

Maybe when Eisner's gone.

Greg--thanks for the Beulah link--my wife and I have some vague recollections about the show, haven't thought of it in years(and let's not forget Amos and Andy!).

Sharon, aren't most of us trying to say:
The American people are intelligent enough to recognize potentially offensive sociopolitical images in Song of the South, and are able to put them in a proper historical perspective, so that the real messages of the film can shine through.

And as you suggested, with an appropriate introduction(James Earl Jones would be perfect--he did a beautiful introduction to the John Henry animated short in the American Legends DVD), we can all enjoy a true Disney treasure again.