“You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught”

One of my favorite musicals is Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “South Pacific”. One of its main central themes is Racism- I actually think that theme might be the antagonist of the musical. There is an incredible song in there called “You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught”.

Do you know what makes that particular song incredible. Well, it does show that no one was born racist, but was taught it.

You’ve got to be Taught

Before its 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

You’ve got to be Carefully Taught- South Pacific

This is a great example of where racism comes from. No one was born that way. You are taught about it. South Pacific is a love story between Emelie and Nellie. There is another romance, which is a subplot, that is between Joe Cable and Liat. After finding out about Emelie’s biracial children, Nellie wants to break up with them- due to the race of his children. That does lead to Emelie’s heartbreaking, “This Nearly was Mine”. Quickly, Nellie realizes her mistake- but doesn’t know if Emelie will survive after he agrees with Joe Cable to go on a risky mission. That mission gets Joe Cable killed, but Emelie actually lives.

Joe Cable is kinda of like Nellie in a way. He did not want to have biracial children with Liat. It is not like Nellie’s case where she realizes the mistake she made. That all came as a result of her not wanting Emelie’s children to end up being parentless, and discovering that she still wants to be with him.

It is crazy in a way to think about South Pacific could easily have been a tragic love story. That would have been the case if the two romances were switched- as in Joe and Liat being the main couple with Emelie and Nellie being only a subplot. But due to South Pacific being about Emelie and Nellie, South Pacific remains a happy love story.

It actually is Joe Cable that teaches Emelie about this message. Emelie obviously wasn’t taught racism. Joe Cable and Nellie were, which leads to tragic consequences for almost both of them. Emelie almost didn’t survive, but good thing he did. I actually think “Some Enchanted Evening” is one of the most romantic love stories in musical theatre.

Top South Pacific Songs

The next show in this series, I will be exploring my top songs found in South Pacific, the 2nd best Rodgers and Hammerstein musical

Possible Spoilers:

1. Some Enchanted Evening- this to me is the title song of the musical. It is a beautiful song sung by Emelie to Nellie towards the beginning of the musical. It is one of the initial songs exploring the love the two have for one another

2. There is Nothing Like a Dame- I just love the overall fun nature of this song. Whenever I think of showtunes, I think of melodies similar to this song.

3. Younger Than Springtime- Like any Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, there are two romances. The main storyline focuses on Nellie and Emelie. Younger than Springtime focuses on Liat and Joe Cable, which is a beautiful song, but does turn out to be tragic in the end

4. You’ve Got to Carefully Taught- the thing I really love about this song is that it shows that racism is something that we learn; not the fact that we are born racist. Racism is one of the serious factors that is part of South Pacific

5. I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair- Another fun sounding song. Well Nellie just found that Emelie’s children are of a certain race, and she is basically thinking of leaving them. That is basically what this song is about.

6. This Nearly Was Mine- This is a heartbreaking song. This is actually a breakup song. Nellie actually just broke up with Emelie. Actually I think breakup songs line up with the same emotions unrequited love songs deal with. So the two situations I believe are very similar. Due to this heartbreaking song being in South Pacific, it makes South Pacific both complex and realistic.

7. Honey Bun- oh my gosh, this song is hilarious watching and has a very fun melody

8. A Wonderful Guy- there is a bit of irony in this. Nellie actually sings this right after “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair”. So why would Nellie sing how much she loves Emelie right after thinking about leaving him? So see the irony behind that.

Just for now