The Music of Stephen Foster

by Nathan Edwards

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    On the release date, receive both "The Music of Stephen Foster" and my debut album, "New Season", a full-length album featuring all original music. (click on the album to the right to sample the music!)

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about

Stephen Foster has earned his reputation as the "Father of American Music" by writing and composing songs that have endured for over 150 years. Although many of his songs are still widely recognized today, Foster has a deep catalog of work that reveals his longing and sorrow, yet also a sense of hopefulness.

Having known the song "Hard Times Come Again No More" for many years, I began commonly playing it as a closer to my acoustic sets. My fondness for this song inspired me to research further into both Foster's catalog, and the man behind the music.

What I discovered was a deep catalog of work that revealed some notable cultural differences between then and now. Even so, it is remarkable how seamlessly many of his songs were able to translate into a modern folk setting.

Through careful selection, I decided on eight of Foster's songs that I reinterpreted and recorded for a modern audience. My hope is that listeners of this album will discover a newfound appreciation for Foster's music, and that his timeless songwriting will continue to endure.

credits

released 16 July 2013

All songs by Stephen Collins Foster

Performed and Mixed by Nathan Edwards

Engineered by Nathan Fields and Tyler Steele
Additional engineering by Dietrich Gosser and Paul Otteson

This album would not have been possible without the help of some amazingly talented musicians and recording engineers. Thanks to my wife, Cassie, for her beautiful vocal contributions to the album, creative advice, and for putting up with countless hours of mixing and recording.

Thank you also to Nathan Fields, Tyler Steele, Chris Champion, Paul Otteson, Amanda Rigell, Shawn Drake, and Tessa Stultz for their musical contributions to the album. Thanks also to John Statz and Paul Schipper for their creative input. Performers are credited individually on each track.

This project was supported by a Faculty Research Grant from Dakota State University.

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Track Name: I Would Not Die in Springtime
I would not die in springtime
when all is bright around
and fair young flowers are peeping
from out the silent ground
when life is on the water
and joy upon the shore
for winter, gloomy winter
then reigns over us no more

I would not die in summer
when music's on the breeze
and soft, delicious murmurs
float ever through the trees
and fairy birds are singing
from morn til close of day
no, with its transient glories
I would not pass a way

When breezes leave the mountain
it's balmy sweet all o'er
to breath around the fountain
and fan our bowers no more
when summer flowers are dying
within the lonely glen
and autumn winds are sighing
I would not perish then

But let me die in winter
when night hangs dark above
and cold the snow is lying
on bosoms that we love
and may the wind at midnight
that blows in from the sea
chant mildly, softly sweetly
a requiem for me
Track Name: Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair
I dream of Jeanie with the light brown hair
borne, like a vapor, on the summer air
I see her tripping where the bright streams play
happy as the daisies that dance on her way

Many were the wild notes her merry voice would pour
many were the blithe birds that warbled them o'er
oh, I dream of Jeanie with the light brown hair
floating, like a vapor, on the soft summer air

I long for Jeanie with the day dawn smile
radiant in gladness, warm with winning guile
I hear her melodies, like joys gone by
sighing round my heart o'er the fond hopes that die

Sighing like the night wind and sobbing like the rain
wailing for the lost one that comes not again
I long for Jeanie, and my heart bows low
never more to find her where the bright waters flow

I sigh for Jeanie, but her light form strayed
far from the fond hearts round her native glade
her smiles have vanished and her sweet songs flown
flitting like the dreams that have cheered us and gone

Now the nodding wild flowers may wither on the shore
while her gentle fingers will cull them not more
oh, I sigh for Jeanie with the light brown hair
floating like a vapor, on the soft summer air
Track Name: Old Folks at Home
Way down upon the Swanee River
far, far away
that's where my heart is turning ever
that's where the old folks stay

All up and down the whole creation
sadly, I roam
still longing for the old plantation
and for the old folks at home

All the world is sad and dreary
everywhere I roam
oh, darling how my heart grows weary
far from the old folks at home

Down on the littler farm I wandered
when I was young
then many happy days I squandered
many the songs I sung

When I was playing with my brother
happy was I
oh, take me to my kind old mother
there let me live and die
Track Name: Nelly was a Lady
Down on the Mississippi floating
long time I travel on the way
all night the cottonwood a toting
sing for my true love all the day.

Now I'm unhappy and I'm weeping
can't tote the cottonwood no more
last night while Nelly was a sleeping,
death came a knocking at the door.

Nelly was a lady
last night she died
toll the bell for lovely Nell
my dear virginny bride.

When I saw my Nelly in the morning
smile til she opened up her eyes
seemed like the light of day a dawning
just before the sun began to rise.

Down in the meadow among the clover
walk with my Nelly by my side
now all them happy days are over
farewell my dear virginny bride.
Track Name: Gentle Annie
You'll come around no more, gentle Annie
like a flower, your spirit did depart
you are gone, alas, like the many
that have bloomed in the summer of my heart.

Shall we nevermore behold thee
never hear they winning voice again
when the springtime comes, Gentle Annie
when the wildflowers are scattered o'er the plain.

We have roamed and loved mid the bowers
when they downy cheeks were in their bloom
now I stand alone amid the flowers
while they mingle their perfumes o'er they tomb.

Oh, the hours grow sad while I ponder
near the silent spot where you are laid
and my heart bows down where I wander
by the streams and the meadows where we strayed.
Track Name: Oh Susanna
I come from Alabama with my banjo on my knee
I'm going to Louisiana
my true love for to see
It rained all night the day I left
the weather it was dry
the sun so hot I froze to death
Susanna, don't you cry.

Oh, Susanna, don't you cry for me
I come from Alabama with my banjo on my knee

I had a dream the other night
when everything was still
I thought I saw Susanna dear
a comin' down the hill
a buckwheat cake was in her mouth
a tear was in her eye
Says I, I'm coming from the south
Susanna, don't you cry...
Track Name: Beautiful Dreamer
Beautiful dreamer, wake unto me
starlight and dew drops are waiting for thee
sounds of the rude world heard in the day
lulled by the moonlight have all passed away.

Beautiful dreamer, queen of my song
listen while I woo thee with soft melody
gone are the cares of life's busy throng
beautiful dreamer, awake unto me.

Beautiful dreamer, out on the sea
mermaids are chanting the wild lorelie
over the streamlet vapors are born
waiting to fade at the bright coming morn.

Beautiful dreamer, beam on my heart
just like the moon on the streamlet and sea
then will all clouds of sorrow depart
beautiful dreamer, awake unto me.
Track Name: Hard Times Come Again No More
Let us pause in life's pleasures
and count its many tears
while we all sup sorrow with the poor
there's a song that will linger
forever in our ears
oh, hard times come again no more