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Masterpiece: Oh! Susanna

The first idea for this post was to cover a genre that had yet to be posted at the site. One of those is the barbershop quartet, and I found a version of “Oh Susanna” by the group Masterpiece. These guys are great.

My attention than turned to the song itself, which is described as a minstrel song that actually was entitled “Oh! Susanna” by Stephen Foster. Like many famous songs, it has little known versus. And, like some, there is a reason the verses have been buried. Check out the second and fourth verse. Those verses obviously make this a song that perhaps should be retired over time. This is how it goes:

I come from Alabama with my Banjo on my knee—
I’m goin’ 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, do not cry for me;
I come from Alabama, with my Banjo on my knee.

2. (This verse is rarely sung today.)
I jumped aboard the telegraph and traveled down the river,
Electric fluid magnified, and killed five hundred Nigger.
The bullgine bust, the horse ran off, I really thought I’d die;
I shut my eyes to hold my breath—Susanna, don’t you cry.

I had a dream the other night, when everything was still;
I thought I saw Susanna dear, a comin’ down the hill.
The buckwheat cake was in her mouth, a tear was in her eye,
I says, “I’ve coming from the South”-Susanna, don’t you cry.

An unauthorized fourth verse was added:[citation needed][19]

I soon will be in New Orleans, and then I’ll look all around,
And when I find Susanna, I’ll fall upon the ground.
But if I do not find her, this darkie’ll surely die,
And when I’m dead and buried—Susanna, don’t you cry.

Neil Young & Crazy Horse recorded the song three years ago and included it on the album “Americana.”

(Homepage photo: Shawn York)