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Old Black Joe

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Old Black Joe

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Old Black Joe
(S.C. Foster, 1860)

Gone are the days when my heart was young and gay,
Gone are my friends from the cotton fields away,
Gone from the earth to a better land I know,
I hear their gentle voices calling "Old Black Joe".

cho: I'm coming, I'm coming, for my head is bending low,
     I hear their gentle voices calling "Old Black Joe".

Why do I weep, when my heart should feel no pain,
Why do I sigh that my friends come not again.
Grieving for forms now departed long ago.
I hear their gentle voices calling "Old Black Joe"

Where are the hearts once so happy and so free?
The children so dear that I held upon my knee
Gone to the shore where my soul has longed to go,
I hear their gentle voices calling "Old Black Joe"
I suppose songs like this make people very nervous about being politically
incorrect, but I think it's a shame that most of the songs Stephen Foster
wrote have been edited out of our history. Certainly, the songs reflect
attitudes that are no longer acceptable; but I don't think that it's
acceptable to whitewash away part of out history.
On the other hand, I think it's probably good that songs like this are no
longer in grammar school songbooks. I learned this song by heart when I
was in grade school. Maybe it's just as well my kids didn't. Nonetheless,
I think the song should be included in the database. It's part of our
history. JO

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E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III