Carry Me Back to Old Virginny

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"Carry Me Back to Old Virginny"
Song
Writer James A. Bland

"Carry Me Back to Old Virginny" is a song which was written by James A. Bland (1854–1911), an African American minstrel who wrote over 700 songs. It is was an adaption by Bland of the traditional "Carry Me Back to Ole Virginny" popular since the 1840s and frequently sung by Confederate soldiers during the American Civil War. Bland's version, the best known, was adapted in 1878 when many of the newly freed slaves were struggling to find work. The song has become controversial in modern times.

A third reworded version was Virginia's state song from 1940 until 1997, using the word "Virginia" instead of "Virginny." In 1997, it was retired on the grounds that the lyrics were considered offensive to African Americans. On January 28, 1997, the Virginia Senate voted to designate "Carry Me Back to Old Virginia" as state song emeritus and a study committee initiated a contest for writing a new state song.

In January 2006, a state Senate panel voted to designate "Shenandoah" as the "interim official state song." On March 1, 2006, the House Rules Committee of the General Assembly voted down bill SB682, which would have made "Shenandoah" the official state song.

Covers[edit]

Lyrics (Bland's 1878 version)[edit]

Carry me back to old Virginny.
There's where the cotton and corn and taters grow.
There's where the birds warble sweet in the spring-time.
There's where this old darkey's heart am long'd to go.

There's where I labored so hard for old Massa,
Day after day in the field of yellow corn;
No place on earth do I love more sincerely
Than old Virginny, the state where I was born.

Carry me back to old Virginny.
There's where the cotton and the corn and taters grow;
There's where the birds warble sweet in the spring-time.
There's where this old darkey's heart am long'd to go.

Carry me back to old Virginny,
There let me live till I wither and decay.
Long by the old Dismal Swamp have I wandered,
There's where this old darkey's life will pass away.

Massa and Missis have long since gone before me,
Soon we will meet on that bright and golden shore.
There we'll be happy and free from all sorrow,
There's where we'll meet and we'll never part no more.

Carry me back to old Virginny.
There's where the cotton and the corn and taters grow;
There's where the birds warble sweet in the spring-time.
There's where this old darkey's heart am long'd to go.

This is an entirely different song from "Carry Me Back to Old Virginny", with a different melody and chord structure. This song may have suggested lyrics to Bland, but there is no proof of this.

Lyrics (version dating from the 1840s and commonly sung by Virginia Confederate soldiers)[edit]

On de floating scow ob ole Virginny,
I've worked from day to day,
Raking among de oyster beds,
To me it was but play;
But now I'm old and feeble,
An' my bones are getting sore,
Den carry me back to ole Virginny
To ole Virginny shore.

CHORUS: Den carry me back to ole Virginny
To ole Virginny shore,
Oh, carry me back to ole Virginny,
To ole Virginny shore.

Oh, I wish dat I was young again,
Den I'd lead a different life,
I'd save my money and buy a farm,
And take Dinah for my wife;
But now old age, he holds me tight,
And I cannot love any more,
Oh, carry me back to ole Virginny,
To ole Virginny shore.

When I am dead and gone to roost,
Lay de old tambo by my side,
Let de possum and coon to my funeral go,
For dey are my only pride;
Den in soft repose, I'll take my sleep,
An' I'll dream for ever more,
Dat you're carrying me back to ole Virginny,
To ole Virginny shore.

Old Crow Medicine Show: Carry Me Back (2012)[edit]

Americana string band Old Crow Medicine Show's 2012 album, Carry Me Back, derives its name from 'Carry Me Back to Old Virginny'. The song with "such a pleasurable melody and such discomfiting politics that it has fascinated bandleader Ketch Secor since he was a kid in Virginia" led him to write "Carry Me Back to Virginia," for the group's album.[5] As Secor reveals:

"That song came from a story I was told as a kid. The Confederates ran out of men, so they got 16-year-old boys from VMI, just kids, to march up to New Market, Virginia. I imagine their pride and valor as they marched up that hill and their shock as they heard the screams of the horses in the smoke. I wanted to surprise the listener the same way, so I started off by extolling the virtue of war, then drawing off all that glory till the truth was revealed."[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ray Charles, The Genius Hits the Road Retrieved April 13, 2012.
  2. ^ Frankie Laine, "Mule Train/Carry Me Back To Old Virginney" Retrieved April 13, 2012.
  3. ^ Jerry Lee Lewis, Up Through the Years, 1958-1963 Retrieved April 13, 2012.
  4. ^ "The Louis Armstrong Discography". Michaelminn.net. Retrieved 2013-11-21. 
  5. ^ a b "Troubling Traditions" by Geoffrey Himes; Issue 52 Paste Magazine 2012.

External links[edit]