The words might sound all sentimental and folksy, but the context was way scary.
This was a time when it was a big deal for black and white folk to ride a goddamn bus through the South together. Pud says, “Black or white, there ain’t no pride when you’re riding the dog.”
Let’s just say the Freedom Riders met with some opposition. (Story here.)
These nice looking men were arrested for trying to purchase a bite to eat along the way. They look like the kind of folks who would make great neighbors.
Not just arrested, they and their black and white colleagues got their asses seriously kicked in more than one town.
The lyrics “dirty words and muddy cells,” weren’t metaphors. They were, if anything, an understatement.
These kids got murdered for helping black people register to vote. (Story here.)
It was really bad.
But the song, seemingly starry-eyed and idealistic, was correct, the dirty words and muddy cells HAVE been judged insane.
At least those dirty words, and those muddy cells.