Oh Weep No More Today
for Merlene Davis
“The head must bow and the back will have to bend,
wherever the darky may go…”
-My Old Kentucky Home original lyrics
Seems like every parlor I visit has one of Foster’s “Plantation Melodies
as sung by Christy’s Minstrels” out on display. I’m afraid of what it is
refined white folks hear in the lyrics that gets them so full of tears
when they sing that song. They replaced all the parts
about Poor Uncle Tom with My Old Kentucky Home and changed
the title, but its still about a slave expressing sorrow for being sold
down the river. It’s still about a man, separated from his loved ones,
now toiling in sugar cane fields. I hope what the good in them hear
is a man, missing his family and his humble cabin, that they are not pining
for their comfortable days of life as southern royalty, of being waited on
hand and foot, of being so far up at the top, they couldn’t see
that it was poor colored folks in bondage that they were standing on.
If I’m wrong, and I pray that I’m not, then that white sheet music
is just a more sophisticated way of waving the Confederate flag.
Frank X Walker
“Oh Weep No More Today” is from I Dedicate This Ride: The Making of Isaac Murphy (Old Cove Press, 2010).