Stephen Collins Foster Biography - online book

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

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DRIFTING                                87
There are no records of the sales of any of these songs, but their vogue was never great enough to have meant a very large income for their composer.
The three negro songs of 1860 are the last of this type that Foster wrote. "Glendy Burke" and "Don't Bet Your Money on the Shanghai" return to the original type of minstrel jingle. They are neither better nor worse than "Brudder Gum," "O Susanna," and the other products of his youth. The intervening years have not taken away his ability to produce nonsensical jingles and catchy rhythms, nor have they added to his power. "Old Black Joe" is one of the best of the Ethiopian songs, and has taken its place with "My Old Kentucky Home" and "The Old Folks at Home" among the songs of the people. Like them, its mood is one of gentle melancholy, of sorrow without bitterness. There is a wistful tender­ness in the music.
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."
I'm coming, I'm coming, for my head is bending low, I hear their gentle voices calling, "Old Black Joe."
The following letters, all written to his brother Mor­rison, are the last of Stephen's letters in the family col­lection.
Pittsburgh, Nov. 11, 1858. Dear Mit:
Mary Wick, Jane, Marian and I start to-morrow for Cincinnati, on Billy Hamilton's boat, the "Ida May." We all went to see Miss Davenport last night at the "old" theatre. We will stir old John McClelland up in Cincinnati, make the children sing and bring in Billy's bass voice. The trip will be recreation and variety for me. We had a nice duck supper with her the other evening. (Siss gets along very well since her mother's death.) She had plenty of jokes about Andy as usual.
Our old friend Bill Blakely died this morning. There is a very favorable notice of him in this evening's "Chronicle." I posted O'Neill on the matter. When I saw him last he (Blakely) said he wondered if he would ever see you again.
Your affectionate brother,
Stephen C. Foster.







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