Stephen Collins Foster Biography - online book

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

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94               STEPHEN COLLINS FOSTER
themes on his thumb-nail with a pencil (!); but many of his statements are quite plausible and are not con­tradicted by known facts, as are those of some of his con temporaries.
I have now come to a turn in the tide of poor Foster's life. I believe I have already stated that he wrote and composed most of his latest songs at my rooms, in Henry Street. One of these, and a most beautiful one, "Our Bright Summer Days Are Gone," he took to Pond, who refused it for some reason or other and it made him feel very despondent; for about this time Lee & Walker had ceased employing him in consequence of hard times. I was then "under the weather" myself, and I remember one evening when we were both pretty "hard up" indeed, neither of us had a cent, and I had a family besides, suddenly he sat down to the piano.
"John," he said, "I haven't time to write a new song, but I think I can write 'Our Bright Summer Days Are Gone' from memory."
"Take this round to Daly," he said, "and take what he will give you."
Mr. John J. Daly, now of 944 Eighth Avenue, was then my pub­lisher, and was at 419 Grand Street. I took the song to Mr. Daly. He was proud to get a song from Foster. He tried it over and it was really beautiful. He offered a sum, which, though not a tithe of what Foster got in his better days, was still considered very hand­some; and this "stone which the builders rejected" (Firth, Pond Co.) became very popular. His next was one of his finest, and was named "Our Willie Dear Is Dying"; next "Little Belle Blair"; and then followed "When the Bowl Goes Round," "A Thousand Miles from Home," and many others.
The song "Our Bright Summer Days Are Gone" was published by John J. Daly in 1861; so also was "Little Belle Blair." "Our Willie Dear" was published in the same year by Firth, Pond & Co., indicating that he had not broken entirely with his old publishers. But they no longer took his entire output, as they had done for the preceding nine years. The contract of December, 1854, in which Firth, Pond & Co. agreed to pay him 10% on all his future compositions, may have been fol­lowed by another in which they agreed to pay him a salary in return for twelve songs a year, as Mahon says. It had been ten years since he had written as many as twelve songs a year, but he might have agreed to do so, as it was easily within his power. The letters to Mor­rison written from Warren, Ohio, in 1860, quoted in the preceding chapter, make such a supposition plausible,







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