Stephen Foster (1826-1864) was America's first great songwriter and the first to earn his living solely through his music. He composed some 200 songs, including such classics as "Oh! Susanna," Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair," "Old Folks at Home (Way down upon the Swanee River)," and "Camptown Races (Doo-dah! Doo-dah!)." He virtually invented popular music as we recognize it to this day, yet he died at age thirty-seven, a forgotten and nearly penniless alcoholic on the Bowery. The author reveals Foster's contradictory life while disclosing how the dynamics of nineteenth-century industrialization, westward expansion, the Gold Rush, slavery, and the Civil War infused his music, and how that music influenced popular culture.
Ken Emerson, a former editor of The New York Times Magazine and New York Newsday, has written about popular music for thirty years. He lives in New Jersey.
* Introduction * American Eden * A Fathers Fall * Death And The Maiden * The Crying Game * Out Of The Mouths Of Babes * Jumping Jim Crow * I Prefer Not To * O Temperance, O Mores! * Genuine Negro Fun * Pigeon Wing And Moonbeams * Pittsburgh In Ruins * Hog Heaven * Ice Cream And The Annihilation of Time And Space * Whistled On The Wind * Jennie With The Light Brown Hair * Gwine To Write All Night * The Raven And The Nightengale * From Blacks To Folks * Possum Fat And Flowrets * A Shock Of Recognition * White Mens Music * Heard Anything From Stephen Lately? * Hard Times * Politics And Punkins * When The Muse Is Missing * Almost A Spiritual * All In The Family * Infernal Swish-Swish! * Rum And Religion * Last Pall * Afterword