My Old Kentucky Home by Emily Bingham

Picked by: 
Colleen

The long journey of an American song, passed down from generation to generation, bridging a nation's fraught disconnect between history and warped illusion, revealing the country's ever evolving self.

MY OLD KENTUCKY HOME, from its enormous success in the early 1850s, written by a white man, considered the father of American music, about a Black man being sold downriver, performed for decades by white men in blackface, and the song, an anthem of longing and pain, turned upside down and, over time, becoming a celebration of happy plantation life

Bingham explores the song's history and permutations from its decades of performances across the continent, entering into the bloodstream of American life, through its twenty-first-century reassessment. It is a song that has been repeated and taught for almost two hundred years, a resonant changing emblem of America's original sin whose blood-drenched shadow hovers and haunts us still.