Pop Culture Essay
Neil Young has made a career out of writing intelligent, poetic music that has
related to a wide range of people for 40 years. His songs consist of insightful storytelling
and music that conveys the intended emotions of that song, appealing to the variety of
human emotion, thus making his music accessible to so many people. One of his
favorite themes is exposing social inequalities and injustice. In a song he released in
1970 titled "Southern Man", he sings of racial prejudice in the southern states of the
United States. More specifically he refers to the era of black slavery and the hypocrisy of
these slave traders, owners and their entire society that either supported these atrocious
practices, or merely turned a blind eye to the truth of the situation.
In the first verse of Southern Man, Neil sings "Southern Man, better keep your
head. Don't forget what your good book said.
Southern change, gonna come at last. Now
your crosses are burning fast." The vast majority of southerners during the slavery
period, and even now, are devout Christians. With this verse, the contradictions of action
versus faith are exposed, providing a basis for his argument against southern racism, and
suggesting damnation as punishment for their actions. Hypocrisy within religion has
always been a main theme surrounding social issues, as countless atrocities have been
committed on the supposed basis of religion, or despite contradiction of ones own
religion. Despite preaching higher moral values, and civilized society, these do not align
with the actions of those responsible.
The second verse provides rich, but simple imagery for the listener, enabling a
clearer presentation of the quality of life for both sides of the slave industry. "I saw
cotton and I saw black. Tall white mansions and little shacks. Southern...