From Cherry Pie to Civil War: Warrant’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”

Sure, Warrant thought about baseball so they could “swing all night,” and they even stooped low enough to compare the female anatomy to a comforting dessert, but underneath these sex-crazed hard rockers lay a deep social conscience yearning to explode. Life can’t be all cherry pie, I guess. Sometimes you need to get real by yelling your rock words about “issues” and signalling to your audience that you don’t just contemplate sports to prolong your next marathon fuck sesh. That’s where “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” fits in.

While on the surface, Warrant’s magnum opus reads like the simple story of a double murder perpetrated by corrupt lawmen “Sheriff John Brady and Deputy Hedge,” the group’s decision to name their ripping banger after Harriet Beecher Stowe’s seminal anti-slavery novel is truly baffling, especially considering these idiots were drooling about “cherry pie” mere seconds ago. Perhaps Stowe’s landmark 1852 work, which helped fuel the abolitionist movement and ignite the American Civil War, left a deep impression on Warrant vocalist Jani Lane, the song’s composer. Of course, that’s assuming he could even read the damn thing. The fact that the video for “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” is set in Louisiana, one of the secessionist states that comprised the Confederacy, lends credence to the case that Warrant were putting the South’s demons to the purifying flame of rock music. Beyond this coincidence in title and setting, the song’s actual meaning is pretty nebulous. Is “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” an allegory for the murder of Civil Rights activists in the 1960s or the South’s reluctance to acknowledge the abomination of slavery and insistence in honouring the Confederate flag, a painful symbol of Black bondage? Does it even matter when a track burns this hard? The chorus, in which Lane howls, “I know a secret down in Uncle Tom’s cabin, I know a secret that I just can’t tell,” cleverly implies not only the protagonist’s knowledge of a hidden crime, but also the legacy of guilt still permeating the South. Although it doesn’t quite reinvent the wheel, man, does it ever slay.“Uncle Tom’s Cabin” is an exhilarating ride from start to finish, and one worthy of Stowe’s rich inheritance. There’s an apocryphal story that upon meeting Stowe in the early stages of the Civil War, President Lincoln greeted her by saying, “so this is the little lady who started this great war.” What would Honest Abe have said to Warrant if he’d ever enjoyed the distinct pleasure of meeting them? It’s certainly an intriguing question. Sadly, we’ll never know the answer. However, it’s safe to say that if “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” was around in the 1850s there wouldn’t have been any Civil War in the first place. Why fight when you can party with the boys from Warrant? Approximately a million dead? More like approximately a million faces rocked. Robert E. Lee and his ilk would’ve realized they were being a bunch of dicks and surrendered to the transformative power of this hard jam. If you don’t believe me, listen as “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” melts your apologist face off. There’s no secret here. The South won’t rise from this one.  

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