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Neil Hilborn - Motown lyrics

Roger Quenveur Smith said, "They like black music, but they hate black people."

They like black music, but they hate black people.

Growing up I liked black music and did not know any black people.

In the suburbs of Houston, you're only black friends are Diana Ross, Sam Cooke, and Otis Redding.

So here's what I knew about black people: They like to be in love (if someone would love them back, that was even better), they like to do the twist, they liked Jesus just as much as Jesus liked them, they ended up on a lot of chain gangs, but at least it's work and at least you get to sing, and they're waiting on...some kind of change to come...

But no one would tell me what that change was. So, I knew some where in Georgia, a man's screaming. But no one is holding a gun to his head.

See, Lee Moses is in love. And his woman been running around on him. Now, the bass is going into it's 5th bar, the guitars have already been playing for three, and the horn players are spitting on their valves. And Lee's gotta tell em'. He's gotta let em' know. His momma was right, she ain't no kind woman. And the horns are screaming now, Lee's screaming now.

This is what falling out of love sounds like!

Ma Rainey said, "White people love how the blues come out, but they don't know how it got in there."

High school was the first time I saw the Birmingham fire hoses, the first time steel awaited Jesus meant anything more than quiet prayer.

Now, when Sam's having a party, everybody's swinging. Sounds like "Thank God, lets dance 'cause the white people ain't here yet."
Sounds like "Tomorrow I might get shot or arrested, so please, mister DJ, keep those records playin'"
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I still sing along like no one ever died, like I can scrub away white guilt with a soft shoe shuffle.

But Sam...could have been singing about me. Could have been singing about my parents.

I don't know if my ancestors posed in some swamp in white robes with burning crosses, so tell me...can I sing about a chain gang if I'm the one holding the whip?

When I do the twist in my kitchen, am I Jumpin' Jim Crow?

When I sing about strange fruit blowing in the wind, am I singing about my family tree?

So I went home to Texas, I turned on the radio. Otis was still sitting on that dock in that bay.

I cannot understand the pain that made the artist.

This does not mean I can't understand the art.

We, poets, we people of the lamp and lighters of dark places, this is what we know: Take you pain, make it beautiful, make them dance.

It's so hard to hate something beautiful, it's so hard to hate someone whos capable of love, it's so hard to hate someone...

When they're singing.

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