Oh! Susanna

(1847)

"Oh! Susanna," written in 1847 and published in 1848, made Stephen Foster an instant success as a composer and launched his musical career.

Inspired by blackface minstrel groups he encountered while working for his brother in Cincinnati, Foster wrote "Oh! Susanna" (originally titled "Susanna") in the minstrel tradition. "Susanna" was published by Peters & Field, a local music store, but a New York publisher pirated the song, publishing it under the name E. P. Christy. The song quickly gained popularity by means of Christy's minstrels in Manhattan as well as a new polka fad sweeping the United States. "Oh! Susanna" is considered the first minstrel song to enter the middle-class market.

--Christie Finn

Oh! Susanna

Oh! Susanna


(Modernized Text)


I come from Alabama with a banjo on my knee,
I'm going to Louisiana, my true love for to see
It rained all night the day I left, the weather it was dry
The sun so hot I froze to death; Susanna, don't you cry.
Oh, Susanna, don't you cry for me
cos' I come from Alabama
With my banjo on my knee.
had a dream the other night when everything was still,
I thought I saw Susanna coming up the hill,
A buck wheat cake was in her mouth, a tear was in her eye,
I said I'm coming from the south, Susanna don't you cry.
I soon will be in New Orleans and then I'll look around
And when I find my Susanna, I'll fall upon the ground
But if I do not find her, this man will surely die
And when I'm dead and buried, Susanna don't you cry.


(Original Text)


I came from Alabama, Wid a banjo on my knee,
I'm gwyne to Louisiana, My true love for to see.
It rain'd all night the day I left, The weather it was dry,
The sun so hot I froze to death; Susanna, don't you cry.
Chorus:
Oh! Susanna, Oh don't you cry for me,
cos' I've come from Alabama, Wid my banjo on my knee
I jumped aboard the telegraph, And trabbled down the riber,
De lectric fluid magnified, And killed five hundred nigger.
De bullgine bust, de horse run off, I really thought I'd die;
I shut my eyes to hold my breath, Susanna don't you cry.
CHO: Oh Susanna &c.
I had a dream the odder night, When ebery thing was still
I thought I saw Susanna A Coming down de hill;
The buck-wheat cake was in her mouth, The tear was in her eye;
Says I, "I'm coing from de south, Susanna, don't you cry."
CHO: Oh Susanna &c.
I soon will be in New Orleans, And den I'll look all round,
And When I find Susanna, I will fall upon de ground.
And If I do not find her, Dis Darkie'l surely die,
And when I'm dead and buried, Susanna, don't you cry.
CHO: Oh Susanna &c.


Audio PLaylist