Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair
|"Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair"|
Original sheet music cover
|Music by||Stephen Foster|
|Lyrics by||Stephen Foster|
|Published||New York: Firth, Pond & Co. (1854)|
"Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair" is a parlor song by Stephen Foster (1826-1864). It was published by Firth, Pond & Co. of New York in 1854. Foster wrote the song with his wife Jane McDowell in mind.
"Jeanie" was a notorious beneficiary of the ASCAP boycott of 1941. During this period, most modern music could not be played by the major radio broadcasters due to a dispute over licensing fees. The broadcasters used public-domain songs during this period, and according to a 1941 article in Time magazine, "So often had BMI's Jeannie [sic] With the Light Brown Hair been played that she was widely reported to have turned grey."
Violinist Jascha Heifetz transcribed the song for the violin and it became a signature piece for him for years. The transcription has been performed by many subsequent violinists.
The song's ubiquitous airplay in the 1940s led Spike Jones to create a parody, called "I Dream of Brownie with the Light Blue Jeans." In the song, it turns out that "Brownie" is a wire-haired terrier. The instrumental interlude contains a number of references to other Stephen Foster songs.
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The 1960 Bugs Bunny short From Hare To Heir, in which Bugs Bunny continually tries to provoke Yosemite Sam into losing his temper, features Bugs' version "I dream of Jeanie, she's a light brown hare..." His version also appears in the cartoon Apes of Wrath.
Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble sang a version of the song in an episode of The Flintstones titled, "The House Guests", which originally aired on December 22, 1961. The lyrics they used were, "My bosom buddy and my lifelong pal.....lah dee dee dah.....". They were trying to prove to Wilma and Betty that they could get along together without fighting while the Rubbles were forced to live with the Flintstones for a week due a water main break in the Rubbles' house.
The character of Laura Petrie, while under the influence of prescription tranquilizers and wine, sings a version of the song in the Season 4 episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show entitled "Pink Pills and Purple Parents" (1964). The character, played by Mary Tyler Moore, sings the tune with the lyrics "I dream of Laura with the light brown hair, floating like a zeppelin on the summer air."
On Alvin and the Chipmunks, David Seville, while courting a young woman, sang the song to her in a boat, much to the annoyance of the Chipmunks, who retaliated with a silly and disrespectful spoof; "We dream of Jeanie with the green-purple hair/She looks so funny, people stop and stare..." which insults Dave's girlfriend and irritates Dave himself.
The opening line notably got used as the basis for the title of the TV series I Dream of Jeannie.
- "No Letup". Time Magazine. January 27, 1941.