Wo, are we movin' too slow?
Have you seen us,
Uncle Remus . . .
We look pretty sharp in these clothes (yes, we do)
Unless we get sprayed with a hose
It ain't bad in the day
If they squirt it your way
'Cept in the winter, when it's froze
An' it's hard if it hits
On yer nose
On yer nose

Just keep yer nose
To the grindstone, they say
Will that redeem us,
Uncle Remus . . .
I can't wait till my Fro is full-grown
I'll just throw 'way my Doo-Rag at home
I'll take a drive to BEVERLY HILLS
Just before dawn
An' knock the little jockeys
Off the rich people's lawn
An' before they get up
I'll be gone, I'll be gone
Before they get up
I'll be knocking the jockeys off the lawn
Down in the dew

Lyrics submitted by nicole

Uncle Remus Lyrics as written by George Duke Frank Vincent Zappa

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

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Uncle Remus song meanings
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  • +3
    General CommentThis is a sad song as essentially it means that the black people have become so defeated that they don't even mind being "sprayed with a hose" and take pleasure from small victories like knocking racist statues off rich people's lawns.
    DrLorenzoon December 10, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentClearly, this is about Racism and civil rights.
    the lyrics are hardly senseless.
    they took pride in their clothes, but got sprayed with fire hoses during "riots."
    "keep your nose tho the grindstone,...will that redeem us?" is saying: If we work hard for what we want, will we get it, and will people respect us?
    or, the other side of the story:
    i cant wait till my fro is full grown etc, knock the jockeys off the lawns etc is probably the violent black panther-esque aspect of the civil rights movement

    probably on of his most heavy-hitting songs
    Ian-o-headon February 06, 2007   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationNo nonsense lyrics here. It's obviously a sardonic song about the status of the civil rights movement in 1973 when the song was released. "Are we moving too slow? Have you seen us?" Instead blacks are worried about fashion ("We look pretty sharp in these clothes", "Can't wait till my fro is full grown") while either tolerating the fire hose or neglecting to remember the old fights of the generation past. Now their version of fighting the man is minor vandalism against rich white people.

    By the way, the "fro" line is remarkably reminiscent of the song Who Needs the Peace Corps about the hippie delighted by the fact that his "hair is getting good in the back."
    uncleremuson December 10, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIn Dublin, GA one of my cousins neighbors had a black jockey and they kept knocking it down. So they painted it white and the problem stopped apparently. I don't know why they kept it I just think they didn't expect people to take it that way.
    bkabbotton December 05, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is about the black civil rights movement. Some parts make sense to me and other parts don't.

    Definately one of the best songs on apostrophe. The backing vocalists are amazing! ^_^
    muchthanmoreon November 07, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is my favourite Zappa song.
    I love all the lyrics and dont really care what they mean but they just create satisfying mental images that seem to fit with the music. Civil rights movement howevere, is probably an accurate interpretation as far as I can tell.
    boozmon December 20, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentyeah, it is. lawn jockeys were these wierd racists statue things rich people would have in their lawns of black horse jockeys.
    Gimpy Jimon March 16, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentUncle David A. Remus was a fictional character in seven books of stories. He was a kind, old, slave who liked to tell stories to white children. The books were written in the late 1800's, and since have become less popular because many people think that they have a racist feel to them. =D
    Tipiaon February 23, 2007   Link
  • 0
    My OpinionThe key lyric in this song deals with segregation...
    "We look pretty sharp in these clothes" alludes to the federally mandated desegregation in the South, something the black community can celebrate, though "unless we get sprayed with a hose" refers to a backlash by the white community against federal intervention. "It ain't hard in the day, when they squirt it your way" tells us that it is not a major setback in the South, but "'cept in the winter when it's froze " tells of another matter in the North, where de facto segregation becomes a much greater stumbling block to success for blacks in their quest for equality.
    DickBachon August 14, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentMy friend's parents' house had one of those jockey statues at the end of their driveway. It was black-faced and was holding up a lantern with it's left hand as though it was tending to a horse early in the morning or after dark. It was just one of those things they'd bought to decorate their front yard. "Very cool", I thought and it never occurred to me that it could be indicative of racists having lived in that house. They not racists and were very nice people and so is my friend, whose parents are long dead now. After the house was sold, I happened to be driving past one day and noticed that the face of the jockey had been painted over in white. I didn't really know what to make of that except that perhaps it was a case of white guilt since the house is in a nicer neighborhood about 25 miles north of Detroit. These white-flight bedroom communites had all been vilified by the most racist mayor in Detroit's history. His name was Colemen A. Young, a liberal democrat.
    SonofJamon October 08, 2012   Link

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