Stephen Collins Foster Biography - online book

A Biography Of America's Folk-Song Composer By Harold Vincent Milligan

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AMBITION
61
'Way down upon de Pedee ribber,
Far, far away, Dere's wha my heart is turning ebber,
Dere's wha my brudders play.
That he was in doubt as to the suitability of the word "Pedee" is indicated by the double line drawn under it. Immediately under this tentative first verse, on the same page, are the words exactly as published; with "Pedee" crossed out and "Swanee" written above it:
'Way down upon the Swanee Ribber,
Far, far away, Dere's wha my heart is turning ebber,
Dere's wha de old folks stay; All up and down de whole creation,
Sadly I roam, Still longing for de old plantation,
And for de old folks at home.
Morrison Foster tells how his brother came into his office on the banks of the Monongahela River one day and asked him to suggest the two-syllable name of a Southern river for use in a song. Morrison suggested "Yazoo," and when that was rejected, took down an atlas and turned to a map of the United States. A brief search located the name "Swanee," belonging to a little river in Florida emptying into the Gulf of Mexico.
"That's it, that's it exactly" exclaimed Stephen; and thus was immortalized an inconspicuous stream which Stephen Foster had never seen, nor even heard of, until after he had written the song which was destined to make its name a symbol of home-longing the world over.
One little hut among de bushes
One dat I love, Still sadly to my memory rushes,
No matter where I rove. When will I see de bees a-humming
All 'round de comb? When will I hear de banjo tumming
Down in my good old home?
The manuscript book referred to above is one of the most valuable of the memorabilia of Stephen Foster. Covering a period of ten years, he used it to preserve his ideas for songs and to work out these ideas into their







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