Synopses & Reviews
Stephen Foster (1826-1864) is the trunk of the tree of American song. His blackface minstrel songs, including Oh Susanna, Old Folks at Home (Way down upon the Swanee River...), and My Old Kentucky Home, and his parlor ballads, such as Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair and Beautiful Dreamer, have inspired composers, songwriters, and performers from Charles Ives and George Gershwin to Ray Charles and James Taylor. Foster devoted as much care and craft to his lyrics as he did to his timeless melodies. In this comprehensive new selection, acclaimed music historian Ken Emerson introduces and annotates the lyrics to more than 30 of Foster's best and best-known songs. These masterpieces by America's first full-time professional songwriter have been so deeply absorbed into our culture that they are often assumed to be folk music. Alongside are 49 other 19th-century American popular songs that influenced Foster or that he in turn inspired, from Home Sweet Home in the 1820s to Western Home (the original Home on the Range) in the 1870s.
With his usual taste and insight, Ken Emerson has given us a much-needed collection of the lyrics of Stephen Foster and the other trailblazing talents who first defined American popular songwriting. -Elijah Wald, author of How the Beatles Destroyed Rock 'N' Roll
About the Author
is a MacMillan PEN shortlisted story writer and novelist, and the author of several books of nonfiction including Walking Ollie
and Fetching Dylan
, both of which appeared on the London Sunday Times
bestseller list. He lives in Norwich, England, with his partner and fellow writer Trezza Azzopardi, and their lurcher puppy Dylan.