Thursday, September 10, 2009

Abraham Lincoln and My Old Kentucky Home

Wow, it has been a while since I wrote anything, but here we go again.

Yes, it's another Abraham Lincoln topic, but it's another one that came to mind and I wanted to put it in writing. It's not serious scholarly history or anything of the sort, but something I find interesting and had not seen mentioned or described before. This is the kind of new perspective or thoughts that I hope the blogging world can create for me or help me find.

I'm a Kentucky native and have lived here my whole life. I also attended the University of Kentucky. "My Old Kentucky Home" is the state song and is especially symbolic at UK - or at least that is where I learned its words and to love the song as the band played it for every basketball and football game.

It really is not a happy, joyous song as you would expect a state song to be, but is rather sentimental and somewhat sad, describing the feelings of one who has parted from the beloved Commonwealth. I have not experienced those feelings, but the thought recently came to my that perhaps the words would have had a special meaning to President Lincoln, at least the first two stanzas that are the most played lines today (like our national anthem, this song has many verses, yet most are long forgotten.)

I especially think the second stanza is an especially powerful and emotional description and wonder what the President thought about these lines, if, in fact, he ever heard or read them. Combined with the famous meledy (the part where everybody at the Kentucky Derby seems to start singing each year), it strikes me as an apt description of what the native Kentuckian, turned Hoosier, turned Illinosian, turned President may have felt about at least some aspects of his boyhood days.

(I admit that in the second line, I did remove the word that originally was part of the song (darkies) and replaced it with a more modern word. Perhaps this is a sign of political correctness, but I do feel it is appropriate to make this change. Also, when I sing it, I use "my" Old Kentucky Home instead of "the" but I'll leave that be as originally written in the lines below)

The sun shines bright in the old Kentucky home,
'Tis summer, the people are gay;
The corn-top's ripe and the meadow's in the bloom,
While the birds make music all the day.

The young folks roll on the little cabin floor,
All merry, all happy and bright;
By 'n' by Hard Times comes a-knocking at the door,
Then my old Kentucky home, goodnight.

Weep no more my lady
Oh! weep no more today!
We will sing one song for the old Kentucky home,
For the Old Kentucky Home far away.

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