When I was married to wife #1 she took me to Bardstown and My Old Kentucky Home.
Did I do the tour of the house? I have a faint memory of stripey wallpaper and a guide in a crinoline, but that might have been someplace else.
Bardstown also has a brewery and a shop selling toy soldiers. At least it did back in the 70s. Shortly before our visit to the toy soldier shop a sales assistant had been murdered on the premises.
By a discarded lesbian lover. With a sword.
I bought a little chap in a tricorne hat and a green jacket. I always had a slightly creepy feeling about him.
Anyway, having done the Bardstown tour, I have a proprietorial feeling about Stephen Foster.
I think of him as a cross between Edgar Allan Poe and Paul McCartney. Beautiful dead women and beautiful deathless melodies.
He was a Northerner, of course. He only ever visited the South on holiday. For all his romantic feelings about Dixie, he was an abolitionist and a passionate admirer of Lincoln. His recruiting songs are as toe-tappingly compulsive as anything by George M Cohan.
That's what's the matter
The rebels have to scatter.
We'll make them flee by land and sea
And that's what's the matter!
His work is surprising hard to get hold of on CD. You guys take him far too much for granted.
There's a relatively unknown song called "Ah, Let The Red Rose Bloom Alway" which is just about the loveliest thing ever.
And for some reason "Oh Susanna" always brings a lump to my throat. It's like "I am the Walrus"- a trifling piece of nonsense with a great black emptiness behind it.
I had a dream the other night
When every thing was still,
I thought I saw Susanna
A comin down the hill;
The buck-wheat cake was in her mouth,
The tear was in her eye;
Says I, "I'm coming from the South
Susanna don't you cry."