My Old Kentucky Home
DESCRIPTION: "The sun shines bright on my old Kentucky home; 'Tis summer, the darkies are gay...." The song lists the troubles of the poor tired slave (soon to die? far from home?), "Weep no more, my lady... We will sing one song for the old Kentucky home far away..."
AUTHOR: Stephen C. Foster
EARLIEST DATE: 1853 (sheet music by Firth, Pond & Co.)
KEYWORDS: home slave exile age
FOUND IN: US(MW)
REFERENCES (11 citations):
Dean, p. 72, "My Old Kentucky Home" (1 text)
Cohen-AFS1, pp. 249-250, "My Old Kentucky Home, Good-Night!" (1 text plus a copy of the sheet music cover)
RJackson-19CPop, pp. 134-138, "My Old Kentucky Home, Good Night" (1 text, 1 tune)
Hill-CivWar, pp. 217-218, "My Old Kentucky Home, Good Night" (1 text)
Emerson, pp. 18-19, "My Old Kentucky Home, Good-Night" (1 text)
WolfAmericanSongSheets, #1527, p. 104, "My Old Kentucky Home, Good Night" (1 reference)
Silber-FSWB, p. 246, "My Old Kentucky Home" (1 text)
Messerli, pp. 83-85, "My Old Kentucky Home, Good Night" (1 text)
Fuld-WFM, pp. 384-385, "My Old Kentucky Home"
ADDITIONAL: William E. Studwell and Bruce R. Schueneman, _State Songs of the Unites States: An Annotated Anthology_, The Haworth Press, 1997, pp. 38-39, "(My Old Kentucky Home, Good Night!)" (1 text, the cleaned-up version used by the state of Kentucky; tune on pp. 117-119)
ST RJ19134 (Full)
George Alexander, "My Old Kentucky Home" (Oxford 3354, n.d.)
Bowman Sisters, "My Old Kentucky Home" (Columbia 15473-D, 1929; rec. 1928)
Climax Quartet, "My Old Kentucky Home" (Columbia 512, 1900)
Ford Hanford, "My Old Kentucky Home and Old Black Joe [medley] (Victor 18767, 1921)
Harry Macdonough, "My Old Kentucky Home" (Victor 636, 1900)
Standard Quartette, "My Old Kentucky Home" (CYL: Columbia 2248, rec. 1894)
We Will Sing One Song (by Joe Hill) (Gibbs M. Smith, _Joe Hill_, 1969 (I use the 1984 Peregrine Smith Books edition), pp. 250-251)
My Good Old Irish Home ("Och my heart still yearns for my good ould Irish Home" by John L. Zieber) (WolfAmericanSongSheets p. 103)
At the Old Farm Home ("The sun shines bright from a clear and cloudless sky") (by A. P. Knapp) (Albert P. Knapp, _Grange Songster_, 1915, pp. 19-20)
NOTES [208 words]: Spaeth (A History of Popular Music in America, p. 114) reports that the text of this song was derived from a poem called "Poor Uncle Tom, Good Night." It appears, based on John Tasker Howard, Stephen Foster, America's Troubadour, 1934 (I use the 1939 Tudor Publishing edition), p. 176, that this is the original text in Foster's notebook, but that it does not fit the later tune.
Ken Emerson, Doo-Dah! Stephen Foster and the Rise of American Popular Culture, Da Capo, 1997?, p. 29, notes that Stephen Foster's parents lost their home very early in Foster's life, and suggests that "Foster would compose so many songs about home in part because he seldom knew one for long."
Deems Taylor et al, A Treasury of Stephen Foster, Random House, 1946, p. 95, says that the Rowan family of Bardstown, Kentucky were cousins of Stephen Foster's family, and that there is a story that theirs is the Old Kentucky Home mentioned in the song -- but there is no record of Foster ever visiting there. Howard, pp. 169-175, discusses his trip to Kentucky; his conclusion in effect is that Foster could have visited the Rowan house, but we can't know if it's the house in the song.
This is now the state song of Kentucky, with the racist references reduced. - RBW
Last updated in version 4.3
Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography
The Ballad Index Copyright 2018 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.