Skip to content

“You’ve Got to be Carefully Taught”

13 June 2010

Most people think of musicals as frivolous extravagance, and Rodgers and Hammerstein as the pinnacle of this. I present a case against this with one of my favorite songs from “South Pacific”, the fourth musical the pair wrote together. The song is still scandalous today. This is a recording from the 2008 revival of the musical, with Matthew Morrison as Lt. Cable.

For those unfamiliar with the story, Lt. Cable has fallen in love with a Tonganese girl, but finds himself unable to marry her because of his deep-seated racism. Ensign Nelly Forbush has fallen in love with a French planter, who has half-Tonganese children from his marriage with his now-dead wife, and likewise find herself unable to marry him. He laments his situation to Lt. Cable, saying “I don’t believe it’s born in you.” Cable responds with this song:

You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear.
You’ve got to be taught from year to year.
It’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear:
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade:
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You’ve got to be carefully taught!

Advertisements
No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: