We Don't Need No Colour Code

[Image: 'Meltdown' Front Cover]



Down Carolina way
Lived a man name o' Big B.J.
B.J. went and got a school
Founded on caucasian rule
Bumper sticker on his Ford
Says "Honkies If You Love The Lord"

We don't need no colour code
Take your rules and hit the road
Judgment Day is goin' down
Better burn your cap and gown

White man speak with forked tongue
White supremists eat their young
Bigotry is on the loose
Ignorance is no excuse
I know Jesus loves that man
Even with a Greenville tan

We don't need no colour code
Take your rules and hit the road
Judgment Day is goin' down
Better burn your cap and gown

Marching to Pretoria
Colour codes in churches, huh?
Following a fascist creed
Whose translation do you read?
True believers won't be snowed
We don't need no colour code

We don't need no colour code
Take your rules and hit the road
Judgment Day is goin' down

We don't need no colour code
We don't need no colour code
Take your rules and hit the road

We don't need no colour code
We ain't playing dead this time
This is where we draw the line

Recorded Appearances




About The Song

From Clone Club News Flash Spring/Summer 1984, Spring/Summer 1984:

There is a college in our country with a history of racism that continues through to the present day. The urgency behind "We Don't Need No Colour Code" comes from the fact that this school claims to be a Christian college. Racism in Christianity isn't new. In Galatians 2, Peter had come to Antioch and fellowshipped with the Gentiles. Then his Jewish friends arrived, and he suddenly acted as if he had no association with the Gentile believers. Paul writes of Peter, "I opposed him to this face, because he was in the wrong." The situation was the same--racism in the Body of Christ. To love the Church is to want to see it conformed to the image of Christ, but that can never happen when racism is in our midst, violation the Biblical principles upon which the early Church was founded. This song was written as a broad satire to make the point that regardless of whether it's a Christian college in the South or a segregated church in South Africa, racism in the name of Chrisitanity can never be tolerated.

From Cornerstone 1985, July 1985:

This is about a certain college in Carolina that's come under a lot of criticism concerning their racist policies. For some reason the black people and white people aren't supposed to mix together in certain social things. Yet this college claims to be a Christian college. Now this is not a song against the students that go to school, it's not a song against the president of the school, it's just that racism in the name of Christianity can never be tolerated. This is called "We Don't Need No Colour Code."

From Who Does Not Want To Be a Clone?, Campus Life, January 1987:

I don't get my jollies off of being controversial. I researched this song. I read articles both for and against Bob Jones University. But when Time magazine reported on the controversy revolving around their non-profit status and policies of racial discrimination, it bothered me. The secular press should not have to tell us that racism is wrong. That's a message we need to say: Racism in the name of Christianity cannot be tolerated. It's presumptuous of me to think that writing a song like "Colour Code" would make a big difference. But who knows who is going to listen to it? Maybe one song can be a catalyst.

"Colour Code" is not brilliant music or anything like that, we just stuck in a "Bo Diddly" thing.

From Cornerstone 1987, July 1987:

A little while ago I got a letter from a gentleman, and I'm going to read that to you. It says, "Dear Steve Taylor, [tape cut] Have you ever visited BJU? Maybe you should take a trip there. If you did visit the university, where your eyes open? Are you saved?"

About this time I was starting to take it kind of personally.

"Before you try and shove a bunch of crap rumors you heard about my college down an uninformed crowd's mouth, why don't you get the facts straight? Go visit BJU. Talk with to Doctor Bob and the students. No one is forced to go there that doesn't want to. We do have blacks at my school. The university loves the blacks as much as they do the whites. So does God. I'll be writing the university about your trashy song. Ashamed of such trash, Robert--" well, I can't say his name.

Now, what I want to say is, part of what this guy says is true. Bob Jones University does allow black people into their college. They didn't start off letting black people into their college, but the government put the pressure on them, I guess they threatened to withdraw funds or something like that, so they said, "Okay, okay, we'll let them in."

Even then, for some reason Bob Jones University has this policy against interracial dating and marriage. They don't allow it. It's true. I don't know where they get this, I mean, obviously it's not from the Bible, so my question to Doctor Bob is, where do you come up with a policy like this?

And what does this policy mean? For example, if you get a student from Mexico who wants to date a student from Japan, they can't date, because it's against the rule. Or suppose you have a guy who's all anglo-saxon protestant, and he wants to take out a girl that's half English and half Korean, does that mean they can only go out for like half an hour maybe? I am half English and half German, if I went to Bob Jones University, I guess that means I couldn't take myself out to dinner. Is that what that means? I don't know.

My question to Doctor Bob is, where do you get this policy? Who are we supposed to listen to? Are supposed to listen to you, or are we supposed to listen to Jesus? Because if we believe in Jesus, if we believe in the Bible, then "We Don't Need No Colour Code," right?

From Steve Taylor - A Press Conference, an Autograph Signing, an Interview, Peter T. Chattaway, July 21st, 1994:

PTC: ... now that South Africa is not quite that way any more, how long will you keep singing it ["Color Code"]?

ST: It's a weird thing. I suppose until Bob Jones changes their policies, it may be a long time. But yeah, it's nice that half of the song isn't applicable any more.

From Now The Truth Can Be Told Liner Notes & Song-By-Song Essays, Now The Truth Can Be Told Insert Booklet, August 23rd, 1994:

I did make a few people mad with this one, including one Bob Jones III, who graciously informed me in a letter that at the time of the song's release, the matter was discussed with the school's attorney and legal recourse was seriously considered. Hmmm, I wonder why they didn't sue?

From Steve Taylor: No More Clowning Around. Sort Of, Syndicate Magazine, October 1994:

The [Now The Truth Can Be Told] box also includes the live version of "We Don't Need No Colour Code," the call-and-response song that makes a great barometer for which crowds are longtime Steve Taylor fans and which crowds just heard of him on the drive over. After all, those who know the original song know the crowd shouldn't always answer Taylor verbatim. "Yeah, you can pretty much tell the crowd by how they respond to that song--and if they don't respond at all, you know it's not one of your better nights."

From Cornerstone 2003, July 4th, 2003:

This is actually a song about Africa. I know sometimes when we hear about Africa, someone thinks, "oh great, it's going to be another depressing song," and in a lot of cases, you would be right. Coming from Africa, the news has not been so good lately, as you know. The plight of AIDS has ravaged the countryside. By 2010, if we don't act, there could be 25 million AIDS orphans, and things are very grim.

A couple of years ago, I went with Compassion--my wife and I went to Africa, and we saw a lot of things there first-hand. In the midst of the joys of meeting our sponsored child, and going on and sponsoring four more after that trip--which I'd highly recommend all of you doing, if you get a chance to go see Compassion--we were able to make a difference in the lives of some children, but, at the same time, the plight there is just overwhelming.

When I wrote this next song 20 years ago, there was a lot to be discouraged about. Apartheid was the rule of the law in South Africa, and it was unfortunately supported by a majority of white Christian churches. And over in our country, a Christian college called Bob Jones University actually had a policy in their student manual prohibiting interracial dating among students.

I gotta admit, I wrote this song because at the time I was thinking, "You know, I don't know if things are ever going to get any better. I mean, we hope and we write songs and all this stuff, but who knows?" I think sometimes we forget that when we follow Jesus' commands and do what He tells us to do, things can actually get better in this world.

In the last year, a lot of you have been calling your senators and your congressmen on behalf of AIDS in Africa, and I believe that with the help of a lot of you, President Bush has, in his State of the Union address, announced a $15 billion AIDS package for Africa. Bono and a lot of people up in Washington, DC, have gone on record as crediting a lot of the Christian community for making that happen--for calling people and pushing that forward. So I want to thank all of you for that.

I want to ask you for one more thing. Tonight, afterwards, I'm going to hang out of there and be happy to meet all of you. I'm going to ask you to sign a letter, a pledge, that says now that President Bush has pledged $15 billion and that congress has approved it, now it's got to go through some sort of appropriations committee, and it's being stuck up there. So we need you to make one more round of calls to your senators and congressmen, tell them we support the president's package, and that we want so see AIDS in Africa ended in our lifetime. So I'm going to ask you to sign up over there, if you would, after the concert, alright?

Because I believe that we can see, in our lifetime, things happen and things actually get better. The proof of it is in this next song, because now, 20 years later, there is no apartheid in South Africa, and, believe it or not, there is no policy against interracial dating anymore at Bob Jones. They knocked it off a few years ago. So this is a celebration song, a celebration of irrelevance in songwriting.