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GOLDEN SLIPPERS. AKA - "O dem Golden Slippers." American; Reel, Two-Step, Polka, and Song Tune. USA, widely known, esp. in the northern tradition. D Major (Brody, Ford): C Major (Jarman): G Major (Bronner, Johnson, Phillips, Reiner, Shaw, Sweet). Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (Bronner): AAB (Phillips, Shaw): AABB (Jarman, Ford): AABB' (Brody, Johnson, Reiner, Sweet). Originally a song composed by prominent black minstrel songwriter and banjo player (with Haverly's Minstrels) James A. Bland in 1870 as "Oh! Dem Golden Slippers." The melody later passed from the minstrel stage into folk and fiddling tradition (Bland also wrote "Carry Me Back to Old Virginny" and "In the Evening by the Moonlight"). Bland was born in 1854 on Long Island, to a family of free blacks (his father was the first black patent examiner, in Washington, D.C.). He died in 1911, poor despite his hundreds of compositions (of which he copyrighted only 35). Due to this dissemination it appeared in song collections without credit to Bland, and was noted by several collectors in folk tradition in the early twentieth century (e.g. Frank C. Brown's Folk Songs from North Carolina). Played in the key of F Major by Arizona fiddler Kenner C. Kartchner, who played the tune in harmony with another fiddler for dances in the early 20th century (Shumway). In repertory of Buffalo Valley Pa. dance fiddler Ralph Sauers. This was one of the tunes described by the Clarke County Democrat (southwest Alabama) of May 9th, 1929, that "assuredly would be rendered in the most approved fashion" at a contest in Grove Hill, Alabama. One version of the lyrics goes:
Oh my golden slippers are laid away,
Cause I don"t expect to wear them til my wedding day,
And my long-tailed coat that I love so well,
I will wear up in the chariot in the morning
And the long white robe that I bought last June,
I'm goin to get it changed cause it fits too soon,
And the old grey horse that I used to ride,
I will hitch up to the chaiot in the morning
O dem golden slippers, O dem golden slippers
dem golden slippers I'm gwine to wear cause they look so neat;
O dem golden slippers, O dem golden slippers
dem golden slippers I'm gwine te wear to cross the golden street.
Oh, my old banjo hangs on the wall,
'Cause it ain't been tuned since way last fall,
But the old folks say we will have a good time,
When we ride up in the chariot in the morning,
There's old Brother Ben and Sister Luce,
They will telegraph the news to Uncle Bacco Juice
What a great camp meeting there will be that day,
When we ride up in the chariot in the morning
Source for notated version: Fennigs All Stars (N.Y.) [Brody]; Clyde McLean, 1976 (New York State) [Bronner].
Printed sources: Brody (Fiddler's Fakebook), 1983; p. 123. Bronner (Old Time Music Makers of New York State), 1987; No. 24, p. 105. Ford (Traditional Music of America), 1940; p. 113 (appears as "Dem Golden Slippers;" song lyrics on p. 410). Jarman (The Cornhuskers Book of Square Dance Tunes), 1944; p. 9. S. Johnson (Kitchen Musician No. 4: Fine Tunes), 1983 (revised 1991, 2001); p. 9. S. Johnson (Kitchen Musician No. 7: Michigan Tunes), 1986–87; p. 1. Kerr (Merry Melodies, vol. 1), p. 28. Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes, vol. 1), 1994; p. 99. Reiner (Anthology of Fiddle Styles), 1979; p. 77. Shaw (Cowboy Dances), 1943; p. 383. Spadaro (10 Cents a Dance), 1980; p. 19. Sweet (Fifer's Delight), 1964/1981; p. 6.
Biograph 6008, Delaware Water Gap – "Fox Hollow String Band Festival."
Brunswick 128 (78 RPM), Dykes Magic City Trio (1927).
Brunswick 313 (78 RPM), Lonnie Austin (1929).
County 705, Buddy Pendelton – "Virginia Breakdown."
Folkways FA 2337, Clark Kessinger – "Live at Union Grove."
Fretless Records 101, "The Campbell Family: Champion Fiddlers."
Front Hall 01, Fennigs All Stars – "The Hammered Dulcimer."
Front Hall 023, Michael, McCreesh & Campbell – "Host of the Air" (1980).
Gennet 14060 (78 RPM), The Tweedy Brothers (Wheeling, West Virginia brothers Harry and George on fiddles, Charles on piano), 1928, unissued.
Kicking Mule 204, John Burke – "The Old-Time Banjo in America."
Mag 3901, Sumner and McReynolds – "Old Friends."
Missouri State Old Time Fiddlers' Association, Vee Latty (1910-1956) – "Fever in the South."
Okehdokee Records, Deseret String Band – "The Land of Milk and Honey" (c. 1974).
Smithsonian Folkways SFW CD 40126, Lester Bradley & Friends – "Choose Your Partners!: Contra Dance & Square Dance Music of New Hampshire" (1999).
See also listing at:
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources