All White People Look Alike

by Brian Woodbury

/
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
02:20
9.
10.
00:38
11.
02:12

about

The title track is a 20-minute long musical manifesto on race, conformity and (pre-internet) mass culture. It opens cinematically in a cotton field and travels through a series of feels and styles (an African hoedown, an acapella choral tongue-twister, a Fred Frith-like metrical breakdown) each transforming seamlessly into the next. It culminates at a stand-up comedy club in a diatribe on “skin colored” Band-Aids, the origin of Valley Girls, the supposed twenty-seven Eskimo words for snow (“snow, snow, snow, snow”) and “why when you move and go to a new elementary school, all the kids look the same at first.” Along the way, Woodbury, backed up two female singers and a highly percussive score of drums, bass, guitars, keyboards, saxophones and violin, makes reference to Stevie Wonder, Gil Scott-Heron & Steve Reich’s “Come Out.”

The CD continues with songs that evolved from a theater piece, “Harangue.” The theme seems to be the inadequacy of economics as an explanation for human endeavor.

It features a fake opera recitative (“I can tell the time of day”); poly-metric rap (“I’m Just the Kind of Guy That I Like”); the haunting/ridiculous aria “The Birds Don’t Owe” (“The bell can’t owe its ding-dong”); Schumann-esque choral music (“Our Sin”); exquisite industrial noise (“The Work Ethic”) and show biz Gospel (“Who Says?”).

History of the LP: The title cut and “I’m Just the Kind of Guy” received extensive airplay on college stations in 1988-1990, making several best-of lists. Subsequently, the title cut “All White People Look Alike” curiously ended up as side 4 of a Jane’s Addiction bootleg double LP. Somehow the rumor arose that the song was what got Jane’s Addiction signed to Warner Brothers; and further, that the representatives who signed Jane's Addiction thought they were more like the band They Might Be Giants. With this release, we can at last set the record straight.

Note: The original “Harangue” side contained “My Favorite Things,” a mash-up duet of John Coltrane & Julie Andrews. The rights to the original recordings were unobtainable, so, alas, it is not included on here or on the CD.

credits

released November 1, 1987

all music and lyrics C 1987 Some Philharmonic Music, BMI
& P 2004 Some Phil Records

Cover painting by Barnaby Levy from original LP cover, hand-screened by Barnaby Levy & Linda Winters, with David Jurist. park photo by Elma Mayer, umbrella photo by John Grau. CD design Hedi El Kholti.

"All White People Look Alike" was originally performed in 1985 at Studio Eremos (Project Artaud), San Francisco. "Harangue" was first performed in 1986 at New Langston Arts, San Francisco

Many thanks to Doug Salot

tags

license

all rights reserved

about

Brian Woodbury Los Angeles, California

Brian Woodbury is a Los Angeles composer, lyricist and bandleader who writes musicals, post-modern jazz compositions, quirky pop, country songs and music for children's TV.

contact / help

Contact Brian Woodbury

Streaming and
Download help

Redeem code

Track Name: All White People Look Alike
(WHISTLE START)
ALL: All white people look alike.
BRIAN: All white people look alike.
That's everybody's fact.
No need to look the other way about it.
BGD: White people made a name for themself
ALL: way back when.

(WAY BACK WHEN)
Say it now when everybody's looking.
BRIAN: I can sing this song cause I lived to know it
(Do that little thing with the music now.)
It's a pretty nice color, but it's not exactly white
ALL: All white people look alike.
All white people look alike, etc.

BRIAN: They all look like that, even the bald ones.
They all wear white, even the bald ones.
Do that thing with the music.
Buppa duppa dum badum badum
buppa duppa dum badum badum

(LITTLE THING WITH THE MUSIC)
ALL: Say it loud!
They've got every kind:
rapists of them,
college students of them,
boys of them,
girls of them,
Grandpa is one.
All white people look alike.
All white people look alike, etc.
Do that little thing with the music now.

( S O M E A L I B I )
BRIAN: That was some alibi on the back of the bus
On the bus, heck, back of the bus.
I think the civil rights movement never got far enough
in this land, in this country.
What do you say, Elma?
ELMA: Never got far enough, never got far enough, etc.
BRIAN: What do you say, Lynn, let's hear it!
LYNN: Not far enough, not far enough, etc.
BRIAN: Do that little thing with the music, baby.

ALL: All white people look alike
It all got its start, way back when
Way back at the back of the bus
Way back at the back of the bus, etc.
All white people look alike, ding ding.

(PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES)
BRIAN: Who was the first president of the United States?
BGD: George Washington, a white man.
BRIAN: And who was the last president of the United States?
BGD: We don't know, a white man

BRIAN: White is the color of white paper
White is the color of stars
White people don't look like that
Not all white people look like they dressed
to have just come out of a candy store
Not all white people get depressed
Not all white people get depressed
Not all white people
ALL: But all white people look alike
All white people look alike.

(FADS)
They make fads
They make fads of fads
That's not a real fad, it's a fad of a fad

This song's about a lot of things
ELMA: Get into it, get into it, etc.

(ALL WHITE TONGUE TWISTER)
ALL: All people look like white people like people look like white
People look like white people. Look, white people look alike.
I like white people what look like white people like.
I like what white people look like. White people look like white light.
Alike people look white-like, like alike people like white light.
White like white light like alike people what like white.
People white people like alike white people all look like.
This is white like white people like white.
People might like white people what might like white.
My people look like white people. All people look alike.
(repeat)

BRIAN: They're not pink or peach or flesh color.
There's no word for what the color of white people is.
Did you know that Eskimos have twenty seven words for snow?
(Snow, snow, snow, snow, etc.)

Not all white people look like they just stepped off the front of a bus.
BGD: Not all white people are white like people not white.
BRIAN: You can sing this song when we're finished with it.
White people have a kabillion words for everybody else
but no dork for themself.
Let's say caucasian.
LYNN: Caucasian, caucasian, etc.

BRIAN: Do that thing with the music.
Do that little thing with the music now.
Do that little thing with the music, baby.
Do that little thing.

(HIGH LIFE)
White people made a name for themself but only one word for snow
This song's about a lot of things
All white people look alike.
All white people look alike.
ALL: All white people look alike, etc.

(BAND-AIDS)
BRIAN: White people have band-aids
Black people have band-aids
Don't put a black band-aid on a white person
Black ones don't match them
White ones don't match them
It's hard to find color-coordinated band-aids

If you're black and you're black and blue
Let the bruise blood show up, that'll do
If you're white and you're black and blue
Let the bruise blood flow from you

If you're white and you see red
The blood rush upside your head
If you're black and you see red
Eyesore for sore eyes instead

If you're black and bump your bum
Stick it out like a sore thumb
If you're white and you're all thumb
Mama told you not to go or come

These are not the definitive -- the classic -- racial distinctions.
I, for one, like watermelon as much as any black could.
Watermelon is good.
Watermelon is real good.
Watermelon is really good.

(MORPHING FEELS)

(BOUNCE)
LYNN: Ah__

(STAND UP AND BE COUNTED)
BRIAN: Hello, is this on? I have this theory. How many people here have ever met someone and thought, "Oh, I know that type." And you try to peg them, and you try to guess what kind of music they listen to, and what kind of beer they drink, and what kind of dog is their favorite. And it usually works. And it's infuriating and exhilarating at the same time.

Or some cliche, some expression people use, like -- oh, I'll take one from right now, but it may be old hat by the time you hear this -- everyone used to say, "Let's go hang around." And then they started to say, "Let's go hang out." Now, you ever hear people say, "Let's go hang"? Or like, you ever notice people make these funny S's when they talk about something technical: "isosceles triangle, megabytes"?
Where'd that come from? Did they all watch some TV show that I missed?

Or did you ever meet someone who reminded you uncannily of a friend? So much so that you acted real friendly to this person, because you kept thinking of 'em as old what's-his-name. And if THAT person ever meets someone who looks like YOU, they'll probably think, "Oh, there's that overly friendly type."

Or did you ever notice how you can say any two white people are brothers and, no matter how far-fetched, someone will say, "Oh, yeah, I can see the resemblance"?

Or have you ever heard a white person say that technically black are more similar looking than white people because they have less variety in their hair? Or how when you move and go to a new elementary school, all the kids look the same at first. Or how many white people have you met who've told you they have American Indian blood?

(IDENTICAL TWINS)
All over the country, in every city and in the rural areas, there's people from unrelated backgrounds popping up into identical twins; people whose sets of parents are no more similar than any average set of white parents. Maybe it's the gene pool, maybe it's the programs they watched on TV during the formative years.

Let's take valley girls. Remember that "Valley Girl" fad? Well, how many people remember valley girls from BEFORE the song came out? Oh, I'm sure you saw them, or were one. You see, they weren't started by Moon Zappa. She just picked up on 'em, you know, made a thing of 'em, like "yuppies." But they existed before the song. And not just in the San Fernando Valley but in places like Kansas.

It was an accent, an accid'm (blayda-blayda), an on-purpose. Springing to life from whatever their parents were or were not alike. Creating themselves from what it was before.

Now how many times have you thought of something and somebody did it on TV and you got mad because you had thought of it first? Or you got into African music and you said, "Hey, I better start an African music band because pretty soon everybody's going to be into African music, and I could lead the bandwagon." Or -- here's a personal example -- there's a line from this song that's just like a line from that movie, "True Stories" by David Byrne.

But that's just how it goes? It's not a conspiracy. We don't send out spies. We synthesize. Creating ourselves from what it was before. Maybe it's the times. Maybe it's the playing out of vast stochastic systems of cultural change.

There's probably another song that sounds just like this. We all look alike. Like yuppies, like valley girls, like the people who made up break dancing. Only now they're on TV; now they're stylized; now they're a formula, they're rock 'n' roll. Now you can cook them and eat them and save the leftovers for later. Now, they have been removed from flux.

Flux is back and forth. Flux isn't linear. Flux isn't static. Flux isn't advancing or getting better or gaining on the future. Flux isn't returning to old times. Flux is flux.

Oh, all white people look alike, get everybody's goat and let the real goat escape happy.

You see, you can't garner flux. When the communication gets in gear, it tries to put its finger on flux. It says, "We're starting from here and going to here." (Mama told you not to go or come.) But you can't hold flux.

(FOR EVERY OUNCE OF PROGRESS)
For every ounce of progress, there's a pound of nostalgia. It's the pounce of flux upon ya. That's why this song's about a lot of things. That's why we keep changing our minds. It's just a communication. That's why we all look alike. It's because we're all rugged individualists -- each of us, all of us. We've seen ourselves on TV before.

The communication is trying to put its fingers on everybody's flux. And the flux will not respond. Flux is the color of my true love's hair. Not al white people look like they got caught in a traffic jam. Not all white people look like they LIKE to look alike.

The communication -- of which this is a communique, a member, a circuit, a digit -- persists its fingers in everybody's flux. Its fingers all thumbs on the pulse of the American people, the white people of the West, the dominant culture of the world. The communication, with its ever more sensitive fingers, all looking out, and looking in, and looking alike; railroading its sensitivity against everybody's flux; freezing and stultifying flux; trying to fix flux.

But the flux fights back. The flux says, "Fuck off," with infinite variety, flirting with the random. Brings home the flux. Brings down the house when it takes the floor. (Mama told you not to go or come. Come on. Go on. Come off it. Off ya go.)

Uh, how many people here have used the expression, "Go for it!"? Come on. "Go for it!"

The people say, "Come on." The fingers say, "This is this." The fingers specify, they point to where everything is. Like the hands of a clock when you blink. "You know," they say, "you know what everything is."

The flux flips 'em off. Flips 'em out. Flips 'em off the place where those who need to land where everybody looks alike alight. Scrambles 'em up like, "Open the doors, see all the people." Like your toes and their sympathetic fingers. And it's all thumbs again, stickin' out like sore thumbs and eyesores for sore eyes. Shufflin' their fingers so they start pointin' again. (This song IS about a lot of things. The hell, you say. Go figure.)

And everybody ends up on TV. Either watching it or being watched by it. Or seeing everything they believe. Or saying, "They should put THIS on TV." And then THEY end up on TV. There's fingers pointing every-which-way.

(SOME GUY)
And if some guy comes along and says, "White people all look alike," what are you going to say? "The revolution will not be televised"? Well, will it be on a record? Does that square with you? Or anybody?

And what's an artist supposed to do? Act frustrated, or cynical, or sarcastic? Very modern, very old-hat. The communication never got far enough in the land of this country. What do you say, audience? It's pointing at you! It's fingering you! It's giving the finger to you!

Here's what we say. We say, "What's so different about white people? They all look the same. They're all completely different. And the communication doesn't get far enough, stirs all our examples into vanilla soup with thirty one identical flavors.

So, what do we say then?
How do you stretch those fingers,
release that grasping clutch?
Tie 'em up in a circle.
Time to flex your flux.
Tie 'em up in a circle.

All white people look alike.
All white people shave alike.
All white people behave alike.
All black people look white.
White and black people look alike.
All those other people look alike.
Look at, I can't tell if I'm white.
Look ma, no hands.
Mama told you not to come with no hands.

( A L L W H I T E P E O P L E S I N G A L I K E )
ALL: All white people sing alike
You can tell 'em on the phone and in the night.
You can see 'em in the day because of all the light.
You can see 'em throughout time, because the time is always ripe.
You can live with them and sing with them if you like.

Everybody loves Saturday night.
People from other countries look alike.
People of similar ethnic backgrounds look alike.
People of the same sex look alike. (I've seen 'em!)
People look at the stars and think at night.
People look the same as people of the same type.
All white people look alike.

Nobody needs to know what anybody else looks like.
People look white or whatever they look like.
People look alike and that's all right.
People look all right, and all is right.
Goodnight.
Track Name: I Answered Them
They asked me
Was there any truth to the rumor?
What words could control the consumer?
Still doubt in his head?

They asked me
What undisclosed forces controlled them
They asked me,
Of course then I told them.
This is what I said__
Track Name: Recitative ("I can tell the time of day")
I can tell the time of day without a watch.
I can tell how old a kid is just by looking.
I can make a pot of oatmeal without measuring the cups.
I've got my ear to the ground: I can tell when the horses are coming.

"I'm an intellectual" doesn't mean I'm not smart.
"I'm an artist" doesn't mean I'm not creative.
I may be a wiseguy, that doesn't mean I'm not a wise guy.
I've got my ear to the ground: I can tell when the horses are coming.
When the horses are coming.
Track Name: I'm Just the Kind of Guy That I Like
Now, I'm not saying that I'm the best
Or that I'm better than anybody else
'cause there's all kinds of people in this world
and some of them are not very good
and some of them are very good
and I'm just the kind of guy that I like.
I'm just the kind of guy that I like.

Well, I wanted to do a very simple song
but it turned out more complicated
than I thought it would be.
Well, it seems with the way things are right now,
it couldn't be anything different.
Well, it seems with the way things are right now,
it couldn't be anything different.

Now, I like to listen to the radio as much as anybody else, I suppose
but I can't keep the same station on all day long.
I like to skip around, have a little variety.
That's just the kind of songs that I like.
Boom chick boom chick boom boom chick boom boom chick.

What I think is really funny is the fact that
someday I might be somebody's grandfather.
And it's kind of funny to think about somebody's grandpa
doing a song that goes like this.
I don't know why that seems so funny to me right now.
It probably wouldn't be very funny if you were my grandchild.
That's just my sense of humor.

Well, I may not be your ideal
or the person that you want me to be
or maybe I'm the kind of person you can't stand
But all in all, I don't have to answer to any of that.
'cause I know my own taste
And I'm just the kind of guy that I like.

I'm me and you're you
I'm me and you're you
I'm me and you're you
I'm just the kind of guy that I like.

I'm me and you're you
I'm me and you're you
I'm me and you're you
I'm just the kind of guy that I like.
Track Name: Aria ("The birds don't owe")
The birds don't owe their tweets to the trees.
The birds don't owe, the birds don't owe.
And the trees don't owe their leaves to the breeze.
Trees don't owe their leaves, the trees don't owe their leaves
to the breeze.
The wind can't blow out the carillon's song.
The bell can't owe its ding dong,
its ding dong, its ding dong, its ding dong.
Track Name: I've Got a Right to Sing the Colorful Music
You don't owe me anything.
And I can't pay you anything.
But I've got a right to sing the colorful music.

You can listen all day long.
You can even sing the same song.
'Cause I've got a right to sing the colorful music.

Now there's people from all walks of life.
There's music that walks on the ground.
There's music that takes to the sky and the stars.
There's colorful people the world around.

I'm showin' you my true colors now
I've got a right
to take a jab
to make a hook
or what is left.

I'll show you where my heart lies.
I'll let my true colors out.
I don't owe you anything.
I've got a right to sing the colorful music.

You don't owe me anything.
I've got a right to sing the colorful music.

Some people sing right off the top of their head.
I've got to work it out before it can be said.
I've got to write, and I don't owe you anything
to sing the colorful music.

It's what I yearn for...
Track Name: Yearning
Everyone is born with a yearning.
Everybody strives.
All of us have our imaginations
from the moment of our lives.

But there are many, many people whom it contents
to funnel their thoughts in economic bents,
To negotiate their imaginations
to make dollars make sense,
And belittle the enormity of the waste
the suppression of their dreaming vents.
Track Name: Our Sin
Our sin
spilling out the ugly gutters
Not only vented anger
Aerated beauty

And our sin
and each pronouncement of
its desire utters
an indictment of its languor
which masquerades as duty

Our sin is
spilling out the ugly gutters
spilling out the ugly gutters
spilling out
Track Name: Who Says?
Who is saved?
And who is wasted?
In the future we will all be paid attention.
Have it Yahweh.
Have it both ways.
I've got to be me.
Everybody's got to be them.
I say we can have it all.

C H O R U S
Where but did you go, did you go, did you get?
But to you get ta? Nah-ah-ah.

(Who says you can't have it all?
Who says you can't have it all? etc.)
Everybody's got a famous thing.
Everybody's got a song to sing.
We can all spare fifteen minutes.
We can all be spared fifteen minutes.

CHORUS

We can read Mann, we can read Joyce. etc.
(Reed man, rejoyce! etc.)

CHORUS