If you're like many music fans, you're curious about the debate surrounding Brad Paisley and LL Cool J's "Accidental Racist" -- but you don't want to actually listen to the song, thanks to a perfectly rational fear of country-rap hybrids.
So to help you with your debating points, here are the transcribed lyrics of the song, sans music. You aren't missing much -- the music has a slow, whiny quality you probably wouldn't enjoy, and a weak drum beat extended to hip-hop fans like a wilted olive branch.
As for the lyrics: Yes, it's just a song, and it isn't up to Paisley and a "NCIS: Los Angeles" star to resolve all of our country's racial issues. But we suspect Dolly Parton and Jay-Z would do a better job than this. There's a lot to shake your head about in the lyrics to "Accidental Racist," including:
-The song opening with Paisley being "waited on" by a black Starbuck's employee who gets offended because the narrator innocently threw on a shirt that morning that just happened to have a Confederate flag on it. We know: There's a lot to work with in that intro alone.
-How it equates wearing a do-rag (a race-neutral, convenient fashion choice) with wearing a Southern flag (hotly disputed symbol of the Confederacy and, to many, slavery)
-Cool J saying, "If you don't judge my gold chains, I'll forget the iron chains." First, for the obvious reason, but also because Talib Kweli did the chains analogy much better a decade ago.
Interestingly, Cool J is touring this summer with Public Enemy. Wonder what Chuck D thinks of this.
Anyway, here are the lyrics. Have fun debating them with Confederate-flag wearing cowboy- hatted dudes and doo-ragged, gold-chained baristas alike. (Wait -- you never come across either of these living cartoons? How interesting.)
To the man that waited on me at the Starbucks down on Main, I hope you understand When I put on that t-shirt, the only thing I meant to say is I'm a Skynyrd fan The red flag on my chest somehow is like the elephant in the corner of the south And I just walked him right in the room Just a proud rebel son with an 'ol can of worms Lookin' like I got a lot to learn but from my point of view I'm just a white man comin' to you from the southland Tryin' to understand what it's like not to be I'm proud of where I'm from but not everything we've done And it ain't like you and me can re-write history Our generation didn't start this nation We're still pickin' up the pieces, walkin' on eggshells, fightin' over yesterday And caught between southern pride and southern blame They called it Reconstruction, fixed the buildings, dried some tears We're still siftin' through the rubble after a hundred-fifty years I try to put myself in your shoes and that's a good place to begin But it ain't like I can walk a mile in someone else's skin 'Cause I'm a white man livin' in the southland Just like you I'm more than what you see I'm proud of where I'm from but not everything we've done And it ain't like you and me can re-write history Our generation didn't start this nation And we're still paying for the mistakes That a bunch of folks made long before we came And caught between southern pride and southern blame Cool J:
Dear Mr. White Man, I wish you understood What the world is really like when you're livin' in the hood Just because my pants are saggin' doesn't mean I'm up to no good You should try to get to know me, I really wish you would Now my chains are gold but I'm still misunderstood I wasn't there when Sherman's March turned the south into firewood I want you to get paid but be a slave I never could Feel like a new fangled Django, dodgin' invisible white hoods So when I see that white cowboy hat, I'm thinkin' it's not all good I guess we're both guilty of judgin' the cover not the book I'd love to buy you a beer, conversate and clear the air But I see that red flag and I think you wish I wasn't here Paisley and Cool J (Cool J in parentheses):
I'm just a white man (If you don't judge my do-rag) Comin' to you from the southland (I won't judge your red flag) Tryin' to understand what it's like not to be I'm proud of where I'm from (If you don't judge my gold chains) But not everything we've done (I'll forget the iron chains) It ain't like you and me can re-write history (Can't re-write history baby) Oh, Dixieland (The relationship between the Mason-Dixon needs some fixin') I hope you understand what this is all about (Quite frankly I'm a black Yankee but I've been thinkin' about this lately) I'm a son of the new south (The past is the past, you feel me) And I just want to make things right (Let bygones be bygones) Where all that's left is southern pride (RIP Robert E. Lee but I've gotta thank Abraham Lincoln for freeing me, know what I mean) It's real, it's real It's truth
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- Brad Paisley