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USA (national)

Florida State Song

music animation - click to see all state songs

"The Swanee River" (Old Folks at Home)

by Stephen C. Foster

Click to hear MP3 clips of Florida's state song
See All State Songs - National Anthem.

Until 2007, it was tradition to perform the official state song The Swanee River (Old Folks at Home, adopted in 1935) as part of the inauguration ceremony for incoming Florida governors. The song was not included in the 2007 inauguration ceremony because it is seen by some as showing racism toward black Americans. The original lyrics refer to "darkies" and "a-longin' for the old plantation" (the song is sung from a black man's perspective). The composer, Stephen Foster, supported the North in the American Civil War and sympathized with black Americans.

In 2007 the Florida Music Educators Association worked in partnership with Senator Tony Hill and Representative Ed Homan to invite Florida's citizens to submit their entries for a new state song. In January, 2008, the song Florida (Where the Sawgrass Meets the Sky) was selected as the winner and will be presented to the state legislature as a possible replacement for "Old Folks at Home."

We hope "Old Folks at Home" is not abandoned, but instead designated as a state historic song - it's a song most Americans learn as children and is a bright, well-loved melody. Following are the original lyrics and then a modern version that some see as more racially sensitive.

ORIGINAL LYRICS:

Verse 1:

Way down upon de Swanee ribber,
Far, far away,
Dere's wha my heart is turning ebber,
Dere's wha de old folks stay.

All up and down de whole creation
Sadly I roam,
Still longing for de old plantation
And for de old folks at home.

Chorus:

All de world am sad and dreary,
Ebry where I roam,
Oh! darkies how my heart grows weary,
Far from de old folks at home.

Verse 2:

All round de little farm I wandered
When I was young,
Den many happy days I squandered,
Many de songs I sung.

When I was playing wid my brudder
Happy was I
Oh! take me to my kind old mudder,
Dere let me live and die.

Chorus

Verse 3:
One little hut amond de bushes,
One dat I love,
Still sadly to my mem'ry rushes,
No matter where I rove

When will I see de bees a humming
All round de comb?
When will I hear de banjo tumming
Down in my good old home?

Chorus

________________________________

"MODERN" LYRICS:

Verse 1:

Way down upon the Swanee River,
Far, far away,
There's where my heart is turning ever,
There's where the old folks stay.
All up and down the whole creation,
Sadly I roam,
Still longing for the old plantation,
And for the old folks at home.

Chorus:

All the world is sad and dreary
Everywhere I roam.
O brothers, how my heart grows weary,
Far from the old folks at home.

Verse 2:

All 'round the little farm I wander'd,
When I was young;
Then many happy days I squander'd,
Many the songs I sung.
When I was playing with my brother,
Happy was I.
Oh, take me to my kind old mother,
There let me live and die.

Verse 3:

One little hut among the bushes,
One that I love.
Still sadly to my memory rushes,
No matter where I rove.
When will I see the bees a humming,
All 'round the comb?
When shall I hear the banjo strumming,
Down in my good old home.

1904 postcard - "Suwanee River" (click to see all state songs)
1904 Postcard - "Suwanne River" - image from Wikipedia.org
Source:
Florida State Symbols: Florida cultural & historical programs
Old Folks at Home: Wikipedia.org
Links:
All State Songs - National Anthem

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