I Ain't Got Time to Tarry

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"I Ain't Got Time to Tarry", also known as "The Land of Freedom", is an American song written by blackface minstrel composer Dan Emmett. It premiered in a minstrel show performance by Bryant's Minstrels in late November 1858. The song was published in New York City in 1859.

The lyrics tell of a black man in the Northern United States who is homesick for the South. He decides to return to the South, as illustrated in the chorus:

For I'se gwine home to Dinah,
Yes, I am gwine home.
Den I ain't got time to tarry, I ain't got time to dwell,
I'm bound to de land of freedom, oh, niggars! fare you well.[1]

The pining ex-slave scenario was a common idiom of blackface minstrelsy during the 1850s. Emmett would repeat it in other songs, including "Johnny Roach" and "Dixie".[2]

Emmett's later "I'm Going Home to Dixie" reuses the tune to "I Ain't Got Time to Tarry".

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Bryant's Power of Music, New York, 1859. Quoted in Nathan 354.
  2. ^ Emmett's authorship of "Dixie" is contested; see "Dixie" (song).

References[edit]

  • Nathan, Hans (1962). Dan Emmett and the Rise of Early Negro Minstrelsy. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.