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Underneath The Harlem Moon Lyrics

Artist: Randy Newman
Album: 12 Songs

Creole ladies walk along with rhythm in their thighs
Rhythm in their feet and in their lips and in their eyes,
Where do highbrows find the kind of love that satisfies?
Underneath the Harlem moon!

There's no fields of cotton; picking cotton is taboo;
They don't live in cabins like the old folks used to do.
Their cabin is a penthouse up on Lennox Avenue,
Underneath that Harlem moon!

Why, they just live on dancing,
They're never blue or forlorn,
'Cause it ain't no sin to laugh and grin;
That's why darkies were born.

Oh, they shout, "Hallelujah!" every time they're feeling low;
Every sheik is dressed up like a Georgia gigolo,
You may call it madness but they call it hi-de-ho,
Underneath the Harlem moon!
Comments/Interpretations
by julia ludmer-duberman on 11/1/2008 7:27pm
When, as a child, I sang this song, I had no idea how chauvinistic--how insulting to black people--it was. But in those days, 75 years ago, we were not sensitive to insults to minority groups, to blacks, Jews, Italians, etc.; it was part of the culture. I hope we have learned better. I still sing this song along with other songs from my childhood, but with an apology.
by Baz donaldson on 11/8/2008 7:27pm
This song is most definetly of its era but deserves to be heard by a new generation. If anyone has the Chords or tabs I would love to hear from you. bazdonaldson@hotmail.com
Thanks
by Response on 11/18/2009 9:10am
Neither of you understand the meaning of the song. The song is written from the perspective of a racist in order to show the stupidity of the racist's mentality. The song in of itself is not racist, and is not trying to promote racist ideas.
by Alison on 7/31/2012 9:59am
How right you are, Randy never sings racist songs, he points out how racist the some of us are. Listen closely to his songs and see what he writes and sings about.
by EZ on 12/1/2012 4:45am
The singer is commenting on how sophisticated the Harlem residents are, compared to prevailing viewsof the time. You won't find any overalls. A tux is more likely.
by benshlomo on 8/8/2014 10:33pm
Randy didn't write this; it's an authentic minstrel song from the 120 by Max Gordon. Randy likes to play with old stereotypes, and he did write a similarly stereotyped song called "Yellow Man" that follows this number on the album "12 Songs". (Not to mention the great song "Sail Away", written from the point of view of a slave trying to convince a group of Africans to get on his ship.)

Randy's also a bit of a musical antiquarian, and another reason he sang this song, by his own admission, is that the melody is quite beautiful.


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