Oh, Dem Golden Slippers

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"Oh, Dem Golden Slippers" is a minstrel song traditionally performed by blackface mummers in the United States. The song, penned by African-American James A. Bland in 1879, is particularly well known as a bluegrass instrumental standard.

Overview[edit]

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.[1] Today "Oh, Dem Golden Slippers" is often referred to simply as "Golden Slippers", further obscuring the original spiritual.[2]

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.[3]

Cultural references[edit]

  • The song is well-known today as the unofficial theme song of the Philadelphia Mummers Parade.[4]
  • 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".[5]
  • The Prince Myshkins, a folk duo, included a version of the song with new lyrics on their 2000 album "Shiny Round Object".[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "About this Collection - Music for the Nation: American Sheet Music, ca. 1870-1885". Library of Congress.
  2. ^ "MP3 recording of an instrumental performance of the song, introduced as "Golden Slippers"". arizona.edu. University of Arizona College of Fine Arts. Archived from the original on 2 July 2010. Retrieved 9 January 2008.
  3. ^ "Music for the Nation: American Sheet Music – Oh, dem golden slippers". Library of Congress (scans of sheet music). Retrieved 9 January 2008.
  4. ^ "History: The Mummers Parade". City of Philadelphia Recreation Department. Archived from the original on 11 February 2005. Retrieved 9 January 2008.
  5. ^ Timothy P. O'Neill, Creighton Law Review, April 2004. "Two Concepts of Liberty Valance: John Ford, Isaiah Berlin, and Tragic Choice on the Frontier" Archived 2006-09-02 at the Wayback Machine. Accessed 9 January 2008.
  6. ^ "Index". The Prince Myshkins. Retrieved 7 June 2009. "Lyrics" tab leads to "Songs from Shiny Round Object (2000)", then "Golden Slippers" link leads to revised lyrics.