chapter  5
24 Pages

‘Brother Louie’ and the Representation of Interracial Relationships in the United Kingdom and the United States of America

Of all the popular songs since the Second World War that focus on love and its manifold foibles, very few have addressed issues connected with interracial dating. In this chapter, I am concerned with the most popular of those songs. ‘Brother Louie’ was a hit in the United Kingdom in 1973, reaching number seven on the chart in August. In the United States, a version by Stories got to number one on the pop chart and twenty-two on the rhythm and blues chart – indicating strong African-American support for the single. The situation in the United Kingdom regarding interracial dating and marriage was quite different from that in the United States. We shall see that America’s long history of segregation had a profound effect on the acceptability of interracial dating as well as on song lyrics about this. The white American group Stories’ version was much toned down in comparison to Hot Chocolate’s original, and a more recent, rap-based version by Code Red was even more confrontational, signalling the ongoing prejudice against interracial relationships in the United States.