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Song of the South : Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah

by Nicholas Sammond

This scene shows James Baskett as Uncle Remus performing "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" in an animated setting of green fields and animals. The scene ends with Uncle Remus encountering Bre'er Rabbit, leaving the Briar Patch because it has brought him nothing but trouble.Yet Uncle Remus warns that you can never run away from trouble.

The song is part of the film's retelling of Joel Chandler Harris's "Uncle Remus" (1881) tales. These popular stories told African American folktales through the character of Uncle Remus, a kindly old former slave. "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" is also based off a chorus from the pre-Civil War folk song "Zip Coon," which was popularized by George Dixon in 1834 in an act mocking free blacks.

The song juxtaposes several concepts through its revival of blackface folk songs and tales, and animated content. The lyrics state that everything is true, "actual" and "satisfactual", all the while being an animated illusion. This is further underscored by Uncle Remus's warning that trouble is inescapable, recalling both the countless disappointments encountered by blacks during the post-Reconstruction and Great Migration (and still, as racist folk songs are continually brought back in new forms).

Song of the South (1946) : Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah

In this clip from Disney's Song of the South (1946), James Baskett sings "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" in an animated scenario meant to set the stage for the Br'er Rabbit stories. The song is influenced by the pre-Civil War blackface song "Zip Coon."

from Song of the South (1946)
Creator: Walt Disney
Posted by Nicholas Sammond
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