Camptown Races

DESCRIPTION: "De Camptown ladies sing dis song, Doo-da! Doo-da! De Camptown racetrack five miles long... Gwine to run all night! Gwine to run all day I'll bet my money on the bob-tail nag...." The singer describes the races and how he won a "pocket full of tin"
AUTHOR: Stephen C. Foster
EARLIEST DATE: 1849
KEYWORDS: racing money nonballad horse
FOUND IN: US(SE)
REFERENCES (14 citations):
RJackson-19CPop, pp. 39-42, "Gwine to Run All Night or De Camptown Races" (1 text, 1 tune)
BrownIII 419, "Camptown Races" (1 fragment)
Spaeth-ReadWeep, pp. 41-42, "Camptown Races" (1 text, 1 tune, plus the parody "'Lincoln Hoss' and Stephen A.")
Wolf-AmericanSongSheets, #239, p. 17, "The Camptown Raxer, or, Gwine to Run All Night" (2 references)
PSeeger-AFB, p. 40, "The Camptown Races" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber-FSWB, p. 34, "Camptown Races" (1 text)
Saunders/Root-Foster 2, pp. 477-478+496, "Camptown Races Arranged for the Guitar" (1 text, 1 tune, probably not arranged by Foster)
Pankake-PHCFSB, p. 270, "Camptown Races" (1 text)
Emerson, pp. 10-11, "'Gwine To Run All Night,' or De Campton Races" (1 text)
Fireside, p. 64, "De Camptown Races" (1 text, 1 tune)
Messerli, pp. 76-78, "De Camptown Races" (1 text)
Fuld-WFM, pp. 158-159, "(De) Camptown Races--(Sacramento)"
DT, CAMPTWN*
ADDITIONAL: Henry Randall Waite, _Carmina Collegensia: A Complete Collection of the Songs of the American Colleges_ first edition 1868, expanded edition, Oliver Ditson, 1876, part III, p. 44, "Camptown Races" (1 text, 1 tune)

ST RJ19039 (Full)
Roud #11768
RECORDINGS:
Kanawha Singers, "De Camptown Races" (Brunswick 337, 1929)
Pete Seeger, "Camptown Races" (on PeteSeeger24)

CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "Lincoln Hoss and Stephen A." (tune)
cf. "De Six-Bit Express" (tune)
cf. "Ho for California (Banks of Sacramento)" (tune)
cf. "The Du Dah Mormon Song" (tune)
cf. "Du Dah Day" (tune)
SAME TUNE:
Lincoln Hoss and Stephen A. (File: SRW042)
De Six-Bit Express (File: NiMo212)
Ho for California (Banks of Sacramento) (File: E125)
The Du Dah Mormon Song (File: Hubb236)
Du Dah Day (File: Hubb237)
Hurrah for the Bigler Boys (1851 gubernatorial campaign song written by Stephen Foster himself) (Evelyn Foster Morneweck (Stephen Foster's niece), _Chronicles of Stephen Foster's Family_, University of Pittsburgh Press, 1944, p. 390)
We'll Beat 'Em ("The Garfield boys they sing this song, We'll beat 'em, beat 'em") (Garfield and Arthur Campaign Song Book 1880, p.19)
NOTES [209 words]: Spaeth, p. 107, notes that a "folk-song" called "Hoodah Day" is very similar to this song, and speculates that it or "Sacramento" could have been the original of the Foster song. Fuld, however, notes that no verifiable printing of either piece predates the Foster song.
Emerson reports an interesting bit of folk processing applied to this song in the late twentieth century: He came across a man who was singing the chorus, "Gwine to WORK all night, Gwine to WORK all day," which Emerson says suggests the laborer saw himself in the role of the (work)horse.
TaylorEtAl, p. 63, "Within a few years [of the publication of the song] the town of Camptown, New Jersey changed its name to Irvington. A newspaper writer suggested that Foster's race-track song had brought the New Jersey town so much notoriety that its citizens changed the name of their town in self-defense." This appears not to be the reason for the change, but it makes good folklore.
It appears that most of us now sing this song in a way Stephen Foster did not intend. Morneweck, p. 377, reports, "The second syllable of the little refrain, 'Doo-dah!' is pronounced dah as in dandy, not daw as in dark. At least that is the way Morrison [Foster, Stephen's brother] sang it." - RBW
BibliographyLast updated in version 5.2
File: RJ19039

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