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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,Phil d'Conch Lyr Add: We Are Americans Too (8) RE: Lyr Add: We Are Americans Too 07 Jul 21


Oddly enough, the following article came out just as I was looking into the Asch Recording Studios discography.

The 1941 Asch release (SC41) credits Andy Razaf w/Eubie Blake on piano. There's the odd chance it could be the more 'subversive' original. b/w Take it Easy (SC42.)

The urban legend tells of the release being 'banned' on the radio but I can't find much on that except the Blake-Cooke self-censorship mentioned below; and the much later Nat King Cole promo never getting a proper commercial release, also self-imposed.


“A special case is “We Are Americans Too,” the best known of more than a dozen patriotic songs Razaf wrote during World War II, and for which he received a commendation from the U.S. Treasury Department in October 1944. The lyrics resonate with John Louis Waller’s Spanish-American War patriotism and his reluctance to alienate useful White support. But that’s not how the lyrics were born.

Razaf wrote the original version of “We Are Americans Too” in 1940 for the Eubie Blake musical Tan Manhattan. But following in his grandfather’s left-footsteps, so to speak, Razaf wrote a protest song in which he mentioned the bigotry, even the lynchings, that African Americans had suffered. Blake was aghast when he saw the lyrics. He told Razaf that the show could not include a song that gave White people hell for treating African Americans so badly or else the show would never sell. They argued about it for some time, but in the end Blake and his associate Charles L. Cooke softened the lyrics anyway. The irony is that, after the war, “We Are Americans Too” came to be considered the anthem for African-American patriotism, and Razaf was lauded for it in its softened form. One can only imagine what John Louis Waller would have made of all that.”
[American Purpose – Fascinating Rhythm]


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