Oh, Dem Golden Slippers
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"Oh, Dem Golden Slippers" is a popular song commonly sung by blackface performers in the 19th century. The song, penned by African-American James A. Bland in 1879, is considered an American standard today. It is particularly well known as a bluegrass instrumental standard.
A minstrel show song set in the style of a spiritual, the song is apparently a parody of the spiritual "Golden Slippers", popularized after the American Civil War by the Fisk Jubilee Singers. Today "Oh, Dem Golden Slippers" is often referred to simply as "Golden Slippers", further obscuring the original spiritual.
The song's first stanza tells of the protagonist setting aside such fine clothes as golden slippers, a long-tailed coat and a white robe for a chariot ride in the morning (presumably to Heaven).
This leads to the refrain: Oh, dem golden slippers! / Oh, dem golden slippers! / Golden slippers I'm gwine to wear, because dey look so neat; / Oh, dem golden slippers! / Oh, dem golden slippers! / Golden slippers Ise gwine to wear, / To walk de golden street.
The second stanza describes the protagonist meeting up with other family members after his chariot ride. In the third, the protagonist tells children to prepare themselves for their own chariot ride.
- The song is well-known today as the unofficial theme song of the Philadelphia Mummers Parade.
- Also well-known nowadays in the brass band movement as the classic cornet solo "Golden Slippers". Composed by Salvationist Norman Bearcroft, this solo has been made famous by virtuoso Salvation Army cornetist David Daws.
- The song is used in a key scene in the 1948 John Ford film Fort Apache, in a dance at the fort shortly before the arrogant Colonel Thursday (Henry Fonda) leads his men into a senseless and tragic massacre. (Incidentally, the movie is probably set before the song was written.)
- "Oh, Dem Golden Slippers" is the opening song in the 20th Century Fox film Golden Girl (1951), a musical about the early life and career of 19th century stage star Lotta Crabtree. Lotta (Mitzi Gaynor) and her Pa (James Barton, a former Vaudeville song-and-dance man) sing and tap dance the song to banjo accompaniment until interrupted by an annoyed Mary Ann Crabtree (Una Merkel).
- The song, by then long in public domain, was used in early American television commercials for Golden Grahams cereal in the 1970s, with the refrain reworked in various ways around the phrase "Oh, those Golden Grahams".
- The song is used in the 1980s film version of "Little Lord Fauntleroy".
- In The Simpsons episode Deep Space Homer, during a dangerous reentry, Homer Simpson sings the reworked "Golden Grahams" theme to calm himself, while his fellow astronauts hum "The Battle Hymn of the Republic". (This is itself a reference to the movie version of Tom Wolfe's book The Right Stuff, and its John Glenn reentry sequence.)
- In an episode of Wings entitled, "Wingless: Part I", which originally aired on November 13, 1996, Brian Hackett (Steven Weber) covers his ears and sings the song as a means of denial as his brother Joe (Tim Daly) tells him that their airline, Sandpiper Air, is experiencing a financial crisis. Joe then joins in as Faye Cochran (Rebecca Schull) tells them that their airplane is being repossessed by the bank.
- In the Sports Night episode Intellecutal Property, Dan gets the network fined for singing the song Happy Birthday To You on a live television broadcast. In response, Dan vows to celebrate staff members' future birthdays on live broadcasts by only singing songs that are in the public domain. Throughout the rest of the episode, he asks his co-workers, individually, what song they would prefer he sings for them on their birthday. When Dan gets to Dana, he asks her, "I was wondering how you'd feel about 'Oh, Dem Golden Slippers?'
- The Prince Myshkins, a folk duo, included a version of the song with new lyrics on their 2000 album "Shiny Round Object".".
- Played briefly during the siege in "The Guns of Fort Petticoat".
- In Pokemon Red and Blue, an 8-bit version of this song plays when the player enters an underground tunnel.
- The Texas League AA baseball team from Beaumont TX was known as the Golden Gators. Their team song was a takeoff: "Oh those Golden Gators..."
- In a Dec. 8, 1969 episode of "Gunsmoke" titled "MacGraw", an ex-prisoner (actor J.D. Cannon as MacGraw) played "Oh, Dem Golden Slippers" when he auditioned for a job as a piano player in Miss Kitty Russell's (actress Amanda Blake) Longbranch Saloon in Dodge City.
It appears again in another Simpsons episode (season opener 2016) with Monty Burns performing at the Springfield Bowl.
- Library of Congress sheet-music page that includes background on this song and an audio sample. (Accessed 2008-01-09)
- University of Arizona MP3 recording of an instrumental performance of the song, introduced as "Golden Slippers". (Accessed 2008-01-09)
- Library of Congress scans of sheet music. (Accessed 2008-01-09)
- "Oh, Dem Golden Slippers" homepage at Philadelphia Civil government website. (Accessed 2008-01-09)
- Video of performance of Salvation Army Band "O Dem Golden Slippers" variation with David Daws cornet solo. (Accessed 2008-01-09)
- Discussion of dance scene in Fort Apache film featuring "Oh, Dem Golden Slippers". (Accessed 2008-01-09)
- Timothy P. O'Neill, Creighton Law Review, April 2004. "Two Concepts of Liberty Valance: John Ford, Isaiah Berlin, and Tragic Choice on the Frontier". Accessed 9 January 2008.
- David Mirkin, The Simpsons, 24 February 1994. "Deep Space Homer". Transcript available. Accessed 9 January 2008.
- James Kelly, Time, 3 October 1983. "From Hero To Candidate". Accessed 9 January 2008.
- The Prince Myshkins, "Shiny Round Object", "Golden Slippers" revised lyrics under "Lyrics" link. Accessed 7 June 2009.