Another cheerfully depraved song from Tom Lehrer. It lists the usual myths and stereotypes about the Deep South. I'm not sure that all these were true even back in 1953 when the song was first recorded. The Brown v. Board of Education decision was still a year away, and segregation continued for another 10 years at least in some districts. But even if there was still rampant, institutionalised racial inequality, Lehrer's other complaints are at best outdated and at worst hyperbolic.
In my view, the song is still a witty but stern indictment of the old-time ills of the deep south, made more stinging by its use of the same language and musical styles that others use to glorify its charms.
Lehrer introduces it as follows:
"...this evening, first of all, the southern type song about the wonders of the American south. But it's always seemed to me that most of these songs really don't go far enough. The following song, on the other hand, goes too far. It's called I Wanna Go Back To Dixie."
The tune begans with a simple fanfare of the tune "Dixie" in piano octaves, which segues into a music hall cadence.
I wanna go back to Dixie, take me back to dear ol' Dixie!
That's the only li'l ol' place for li'l ol' me!
Old times they are not forgotten,
Whapping slaves and sellin' cotton,
And waiting for the Robert E. Lee (it was never there on time...)
I'll go back to the Swanee,
Where pellagra makes you scrawny,
And the honeysuckle clutters up the vine,
I really am a-fixin',
To go home and start a-mixin'
Down below that Mason-Dixon line!
The following verse is to the tune of "Mammy".
Oh, poll tax, how I love ya,
How I love ya, my dear ol' poll tax!
Oh wontcha come with me back to Alabammy
Back to the arms of my dear ol' mammy,
Her cookin's lousy and her hands are clammy,
But what the hell, it's home!
Yes, for paradise the South-land is my nominee...
Just give me a ham hock and a grit of hominy...
Oh, I wanna go back to Dixie, I wanna be a Dixie pixie,
And eat corn pone 'til it's comin' outta my ears,
I wanna talk with Southern gentlemen,
And put that white sheet on again,
I ain't seen one good lynchin' in years!
The land of the boll weevil,
Where the laws are medieval,
Is callin' me to come and never more roam,
I wanna go back to the South-land,
That "y'all" and "shut-ma-mouth"-land,
Be it ever so decadent,
There's no place like home!
© Tom Lehrer; Appears on Songs by Tom Lehrer (1953). CST Approved. Lyrics appear with his written permission. Many thanks to Chase for patiently pointing out some of my own prejudices in an earlier version of my commentary.