"Way Down Upon the Swanee River"

The common name of another happy Steven Foster tune, whose proper 1851 title was “Old Folks at Home.” Although it was probably chosen merely as a common, upbeat tune that a Midwestern kid would know, the plot in the song is about being far from one’s safe and beloved home. As the chorus states: “All de world am sad and dreary/Ebry where I roam … Far from de old folks at home.”

Nevertheless, the song will return at the climax of the novel, in chapter 54, as one of the weapons that Mr. Halloway and Will use to save and revive Jim.

Listen to a recording by Foster Barnes at the 1955 Florida Folk Festival:


Listen to another version by The 97th Regimental String Band: