Morning Song – Brown Eyed Handsome Man
With “Brown Eyed Handsome Man” Chuck Berry did more in less time (2:19) to upend white supremacy than…well…than anybody else before or since has done in under three minutes.
Released in 1956, “Brown Eyed Handsome Man” predates (among others) “The Times They Are A-Changing” (1964), “Say It Loud – I’m Black & I’m Proud” (1968), “To Be Young, Gifted & Black” (1969), and none of them would be the same without it. In other words, earnest folkies, hard-living funkmasters, and avant-garde Black Arts songstresses all walked a path first paved by Chuck Berry.
“Brown Eyed Handsome Man” is epic in its ambitions—taking on the racist US criminal justice system, Eurocentrism in world history and art, and Major League Baseball (less than a decade after Jackie Robinson shattered the color barrier, and the year after Robinson’s Brooklyn Dodgers won their first and only World Series)—and irresistible in its composition. It’s witty, bold, mind-stretching, ear-catching, dance-making music of the highest order…and it was written by a brown-eyed handsome man.