Charles Mingus

A Homage to Charles Mingus’ “Fables of Faubus”

Text by Bruce Gallanter (Downtown Music Gallery, July 15th, 2022)

“Fables of Faubus” by Charles Mingus. From Mingus Ah Um (1959) and Presents Charles Mingus (1961)

Oh, Lord, don’t let ’em shoot us!
Oh, Lord, don’t let ’em stab us!
Oh, Lord, no more swastikas!
Oh, Lord, no more Ku Klux Klan!
Name me someone who’s ridiculous, Dannie.
Governor Faubus!
Why is he so sick and ridiculous?
He won’t permit integrated schools.
Then he’s a fool! Boo! Nazi Fascist supremists!
Boo! Ku Klux Klan (with your Jim Crow plan)
Name me a handful that’s ridiculous, Dannie Richmond.
Faubus, Rockefeller, Eisenhower
Why are they so sick and ridiculous?
Two, four, six, eight:
They brainwash and teach you hate.
H-E-L-L-O, Hello.

The first time I heard any singing on a Charles Mingus record, it was on a song called “Eat That Chicken”, from a Mingus best of double LP on Atlantic that I purchased around 1973. The song was pretty funny, poking fun at those who like to eat chicken pie.

Around the same time (1973), I bought another Charles Mingus (Quartet) record called Charles Mingus Presents (1961) on Candid. There was a song on that record called “Fables of Faubus”, which was first released on Mingus Ah Um (1959). The second version had vocals by Mr. Mingus himself with a bit of background vocals by drummer Dannie Richmond. Every time I listen to the second version, I break out in laughter. Here was Mr. Mingus poking fun at Nazi’s, white supremacists, politicians and the rich folks, all of whom try to divide us by pointing to one group of folks and calling them our enemies. They are obviously (to me) not our enemies, the fascists and greedy folks worldwide are the real enemies of true democracy and freedom of expression.

We obviously live in troublesome times yet in some ways, things haven’t changed enough for the better in many years. I find it sad and disturbing that the racist BS which erupted in the 1960’s (and way before that no doubt) is still with us today and still dividing those who believe the Fake News propaganda which is often overwhelming. More than a half century later, we are still trying to be free of the chains (invisible or not) that are holding us down.

I am still searching for hope and inspiration every day.