What songs relate to Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird?

Expert Answers
Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Since a dominant theme in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird concerns racism, any song with a racist theme will also relate to the novel. Many songs have been written throughout the decades about racism.

One such example of a song is titled "Ebony and Ivory," written by Paul McCartney and performed with Stevie Wonder in 1982. In the song, McCartney uses a metaphor of the black and white keys on a piano, or the "ebony and ivory" keys, to question racist beliefs and behaviors. In the metaphor, McCartney points out that the black and white keys on a piano live "side by side" on a piano keyboard and questions why black and white people also can't live together side by side.

In addition to living "side by side," the black and white keys of a piano create perfect harmony, which, in terms of music, means that the tones of the keys blend together to create chords that sound pleasing as opposed to sounding displeasing, or discordant. To live in harmony also means to consistently live in agreement with each other. McCarthy uses the metaphor to question why black and white people cannot live together in harmony when black and white piano keys certainly can. We see McCartney create the piano key metaphor in the very opening lines, which are also frequently repeated in the refrain:

Ebony and ivory live together in perfect harmony
Side by side on my piano keyboard, oh Lord, why don't we?

McCartney further uses the song to question racist beliefs by pointing out that all people are the exact same--all have their good traits; all have their bad; therefore, none should be judged prejudicedly.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question