My Old Kentucky Home : The Astonishing Life and Reckoning of an Iconic American Song

My Old Kentucky Home : The Astonishing Life and Reckoning of an Iconic American Song

Description

The long journey of an American song, passed down from generation to generation, bridging a nation's fraught disconnect between history and warped illusion, revealing the country's ever evolving self.

MY OLD KENTUCKY HOME, from its enormous success in the early 1850s, written by a white man, considered the father of American music, about a Black man being sold downriver, performed for decades by white men in blackface, and the song, an anthem of longing and pain, turned upside down and, over time, becoming a celebration of happy plantation life.

It is the state song of Kentucky, a song that has inhabited hearts and memories, and in perpetual reprise, stands outside time; sung each May, before every Kentucky Derby, since 1930.

Written by Stephen Foster nine years before the Civil War, "My Old Kentucky Home" made its way through the wartime years to its decades-long run as a national minstrel sensation for which it was written; from its reference in the pages of Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind to being sung on The Simpsons and Mad Men.

Originally called "Poor Uncle Tom, Good-Night!" and inspired by America's most famous abolitionist novel, it was a lament by an enslaved man, sold by his master, who must say goodbye to his beloved family and birthplace, with hints of the brutality to come: "The head must bow and the back will have to bend / Wherever the darky may go / A few more days, and the trouble all will end / In the field where the sugar-canes grow . . ."

In My Old Kentucky Home, Emily Bingham explores the long, strange journey of what has come to be seen by some as an American anthem, an integral part of our folklore, culture, customs, foundation, a living symbol of a "happy past." But "My Old Kentucky Home" was never just a song. It was always a song about slavery with the real Kentucky home inhabited by the enslaved and shot through with violence, despair, and degradation.

Bingham explores the song's history and permutations from its decades of performances across the continent, entering into the bloodstream of American life, through its twenty-first-century reassessment. It is a song that has been repeated and taught for almost two hundred years, a resonant changing emblem of America's original sin whose blood-drenched shadow hovers and haunts us still.

Similar Books

ISBN 10: 0525511199
ISBN 13: 9780525511199

15 Mar 2022
Deborah Cohen

ISBN 10: 1468314505
ISBN 13: 9781468314502

31 Mar 2022
Betsy Prioleau

ISBN 10: 0385543107
ISBN 13: 9780385543101

17 May 2022
Candice Millard

ISBN 10: 1501102893
ISBN 13: 9781501102899

14 Apr 2022
Jeffrey Frank

ISBN 10: 0593329236
ISBN 13: 9780593329238

03 May 2022
Matthew Campbell

ISBN 10: 1635576598
ISBN 13: 9781635576597

07 Sep 2021
Winfred Rembert

ISBN 10: 1541600509
ISBN 13: 9781541600508

28 Apr 2022
Matthew Continetti

ISBN 10: 0593230671
ISBN 13: 9780593230671

22 Mar 2022
Thomas Fisher

ISBN 10: 0062977407
ISBN 13: 9780062977403

25 Jan 2022
Imani Perry

ISBN 10: 1984855018
ISBN 13: 9781984855015

01 Feb 2022
Tiya Miles

ISBN 10: 0593297067
ISBN 13: 9780593297063

10 May 2022
Vaclav Smil

ISBN 10: 1501163744
ISBN 13: 9781501163746

08 Mar 2022
Ira M Rutkow