(Don’t) Sing Along With Susan Hathaway

Susan Hathaway may be silent when it comes to Raymond Agnor or Anonymous CSA, but she loves to sing … especially “Carry Me Back to Old Virginny.”

Here are the original 1878 lyrics to that song:

Carry me back to old Virginia (or Virginny),
There’s where the cotton and the corn and taters grow,
There’s where the birds warble sweet in the springtime,
There’s where this old darkey’s heart am long’d to go,
There’s where I labored so hard for old massa,
Day after day in the field of yellow corn,
No place on earth do I love more sincerely
Than old Virginia, the state where I was born.

CHORUS: Carry me back to old Virginia,
There’s where the cotton and the corn and taters grow,
There’s where the birds warble sweet in the springtime,
There’s where this old darkey’s heart am long’d to go.

Carry me back to old Virginia,
There let me live ’till I wither and decay,
Long by the old Dismal Swamp have I wandered,
There’s where this old darkey’s life will pass away.
Massa and missis have long gone before me,
Soon we will meet on that bright and golden shore,
There we’ll be happy and free from all sorrow,
There’s where we’ll meet and we’ll never part no more.

Note that this is a post-Civil War set of lyrics, so its usefulness to honor the service of Confederate soldiers is problematic.

Of course, modern eyes would see something else problematic about the song’s lyrics. In 1997 the commonwealth of Virginia responded to that criticism by adopting a new state song.

However, Susan Hathaway and the Virginia Flaggers remain fond of the song, and Susan likes to sing it. She did last month at a Flagger function covered by Richmond media. The reporter shared the lyrics (which Hathaway thoughtfully provided) to her readers. Blogger Al Mackey noted the media account, complete with film.

Here’s Susan’s offering her talents in 2014:

We appreciate that Susan likes to identify with “darkeys,” as people once called African Americans. We hope that she still identifies with African Americans as she addresses  Mr. Agnor’s restrictions barring black people from his land (although Connie Chastain seems just fine with such exclusions). After all, the Flaggers owe that respect to their colleague, Karen Cooper.

Karen told us that slavery’s a choice, Susan. So’s your silence. So’s your song and lyrics choice. We know people by the choices they make. Choose wisely.

20 thoughts on “(Don’t) Sing Along With Susan Hathaway

  1. Laqueesha July 28, 2015 / 12:00 pm

    Here’s another great C.S. song:

    “We’re a band of brothers, and native to the soil! Fighting for the (human) property we gained by (dis) honest toil! Hurrah! Hurrah! For Southern (slaveocrats) rights hurrah!”

  2. Bob Nelson July 28, 2015 / 12:53 pm

    I think with some training she might be a candidate for one of those TV talent shows. She did not go flat as most usually do, especially when singing a cappella in front of a very large crowd. In fact, she pushed it up half a step. Her tone was a bit nasal but her diction was good. I liked the way she emphasized the final consonant in words such as “corn,” “born” and “springtime.” I think you’re selling her short, Brooks. LOL

    • Brooks D. Simpson July 28, 2015 / 2:09 pm

      When it comes to Susan Hathaway singing as if she were a slave, I doubt there are any buyers.

      • John Foskett July 29, 2015 / 7:00 am

        You could probably have stopped at the word “singing”.

  3. bob carey July 28, 2015 / 2:49 pm

    I thought it was a re-run of the Gong Show, maybe Trippy could be the “Unknown Comic”. Oops that means he would have some talent at least.

  4. OhioGuy July 28, 2015 / 8:26 pm

    As a Yankee, there’s another song that uses the word “darkey” that I like much better. This song represents the true attitude of African Americans, just a little better, though it’s done with a touch of humor. I’ve read that this tune was actually popular with some USCT regiments during the war. It was written in 1862. Here’s a recording of it make in the 1920s:

    • OhioGuy July 28, 2015 / 8:27 pm

      The lyrics of Kingdom Comimg by Henry Clay Work:

      Say, darkies, hab you seen de massa, wid de muffstash on his face,
      Go long de road some time dis mornin’, like he gwine to leab de place?
      He seen a smoke way up de ribber, whar de Linkum gunboats lay;
      He took his hat, and lef’ berry sudden, and I spec’ he’s run away!

      De massa run, ha, ha! De darkey stay, ho, ho!
      It mus’ be now de kindom coming, an’ de year ob Jubilo!

      He six foot one way, two foot tudder, and he weigh tree hundred pound,
      His coat so big, he couldn’t pay the tailor, an’ it won’t go halfway round.
      He drill so much dey call him Cap’n, an’ he got so drefful tanned,
      I spec’ he try an’ fool dem Yankees for to tink he’s contraband.

      De darkeys feel so lonesome libbing in de loghouse on de lawn,
      Dey move dar tings into massa’s parlor for to keep it while he’s gone.
      Dar’s wine an’ cider in de kitchen, an’ de darkeys dey’ll have some;
      I s’pose dey’ll all be cornfiscated when de Linkum sojers come.

      De obserseer he make us trouble, an’ he dribe us round a spell;
      We lock him up in de smokehouse cellar, wid de key trown in de well.
      De whip is lost, de han’cuff broken, but de massa’ll hab his pay;
      He’s ole enough, big enough, ought to known better dan to went an’ run away.

      • OhioGuy July 28, 2015 / 8:29 pm

        I always thought an alternate name to this song should be The Runaway Master! 😉

      • SF Walker July 31, 2015 / 2:47 pm

        Henry Clay Work came up with a real gem here! This song is a parody of nearly every group involved in the War. The Day Ob Liberty’s Comin’ and Babylon is Fallen are also great songs from him.

    • Laqueesha July 28, 2015 / 9:53 pm

      Don’t forget “Marching Through Georgia”. I love that song.

      • John Foskett July 29, 2015 / 6:59 am

        “Hurrah hurrah We bring the Jubilee! Hurrah hurrah the flag that makes you free!”

        • Brooks D. Simpson July 29, 2015 / 7:41 am

          As opposed to the flag that keeps you enslaved … or the flag Karen Cooper can’t visit north of Lexington.

      • OhioGuy July 29, 2015 / 7:05 am

        Me, too. I’ve actually played it on my car sound system while driving the route of the 17th Corps on the March to the Sea. MTG was featured as a sing-a-long in some of the programs of the reunions of my ancestors’ regiment — the 78th Ohio.

      • Andy Hall July 29, 2015 / 9:29 am

        My sister, who was a teenager during the folk music revival many years ago, quickly discovered that the fastest way to irritate our grandmother, who’d grown up around actual Confederate veterans, was to go around humming “Marching Through Georgia.” Hilarious!

        • Laqueesha July 29, 2015 / 2:38 pm

          “Hurrah, hurrah! We bring the jubilee! Hurrah, hurrah! The flag that makes you free!”

    • Brooks D. Simpson July 29, 2015 / 8:59 am

      Seems Anonymous CSA struck out. If anything, he might have caused Danville to move in the other direction.

      They still have Raymond Agnor, even if he won’t have all of the Flaggers.

  5. OhioGuy July 29, 2015 / 4:08 pm

    A pre-Civil War song that also uses the word “darkey” is the Yellow Rose of Texas. This song also contains another period racial term. “Yellow” was a term used to refer to someone of mixed racial background — specifically a mulatto. According to some legends the original version of this song may have appealed to some USCT regiments. Here is it sung in one of the early versions by Tom Glazer:

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