OH SUSANNAH

Posted on Posted in Breedloves's Folk Songs
OH SUSANNAH
“Oh! Susanna” is a song written by Stephen Foster. It was first published on February 25,
1848. Popularly associated with the California Gold Rush, the song is occasionally
(incorrectly) called “Banjo on My Knee”. In 1843, the year Dan Emmett established The
Virginia Minstrels as the first blackface troupe in New York, Foster, 16, was working as a
bookkeeper for his brother Morrison’s business in Pittsburgh. Morrison was a friend of
the early circus blackface clown, Dan Rice, and the young Stephen came under his
influence. Foster also became aware of the new fad of “Ethiopian” songs. He also met a
member of the minstrel troupe, The Sable Harmonists, who performed his first attempt,
“Old Uncle Ned.” A contest in 1847 given by The Eagle Saloon stimulated the song
called “Away Down Souf.” His next attempt was titled “Susanna” – advertised at “A
Grand Gala Concert” as “A new song, never before given to the public.”
Well I come from Alabama with my banjo on my knee
And I’m bound for Louisiana, my own true love for to see
It did rain all night the day I left
The weather was bone dry
The sun was so hot I froze myself
Susanne, don’t you go on and cry
I said, Oh, Susannah
Now, don’t you cry for me
As I come from Alabama with this banjo on my knee
Well I had myself a dream the other night
When everything was still
I dreamed that I saw my girl Susanne
She was coming around the hill
Now, the buckwheat cake was in her mouth
A tear was in her eye
I said, that I come from Dixie land
Susanne, don’t you break down and cry
I said, Oh, Susannah
Now, don’t you cry for me
‘Cause I come from Alabama with my banjo on my knee