Carry Me Back to Old Virginia

Title: 
Carry Me Back to Old Virginia
Type: 
Song
Description: 

[Alternately: “The Floating Scow, or Carry Me Back To Ole Virginny”]



To listen to this song (and others) on the Artists Respond to Juba Site, Click Here.



In the liner notes for his 2003 recording I Come From Old Virginny! Early Virginia Banjo Music 1790-1860, Carson Hudson Jr. claims the song was written by Charles T. White (dates unknown) and first published in 1847, but this claim cannot be verified.



It seems that the song entered the repertoire of Edwin Pearce Christy (1815-1862) and his minstrel troupe in either 1847 or the early months of 1848 and his arrangement is more generally credited as having introduced the song into the canon. The song appears to have been moderately popular during the given period but its popularity was fully eclipsed by the African-American minstrel James A. Bland’s (1854-1911) song “Carry Me Back to Old Virginny” published in 1878. Adding to the confusion, Bland’s song was renamed “Carry Me Back to Old Virginia” in 1940 by the state of Virginia when it took it as its state song. Since 1997, Bland’s song has been deemed state song emeritus owing to the offensive nature of some of his lyrics.


It is difficult to ascertain how much, if at all, Bland’s version was consciously patterned after the previous version. Both articulate the desires of a character who appears to be an aging slave, but the setting of the lyrics and the material of the chorus differ markedly. Note that most versions of the song referred to after 1878 refer to Bland’s version of the song. Likewise, most recorded versions, with the exceptions of those provided below, are also of Bland’s version.



Select Recording History:

  • “The Floating Scow, or Carry Me Back To Ole Virginny.” Carson Hudson Jr. I Come From Old Virginny! Early Virginia Banjo Music 1790-1860. Carson Hudson Jr., 2003.


  • “De Floating Scow Quickstep (or Carry Me Back to Old Virginny).” The Canebrake Minstrels. Finer Than Frog Hair. The Canebrake Minstrels, 2003.



    Works Cited:
  • Hudson Jr., Carson. Liner Notes. I Come From Old Virginny! Early Virginia Banjo Music 1790-1860. Carson Hudson Jr., 2003.


    Mark Turner


  • Media: 
    Sheet Music Cover
    Lyrics
    Audio File - Minstrels in the Parlour

    Performance(s) listed of this act

    Performer(s) Troupe Event and Venue

    Ludlow, M.C.
    Ethiopian Serenaders (1848-49) Variety, 26 Jun. 1848 - 01 Jul. 1848
    Vauxhall Gardens, London (city-county)

    Ludlow, M.C.
    Ethiopian Serenaders (1848-49) Variety, 03 Jul. 1848 - 08 Jul. 1848
    Vauxhall Gardens, London (city-county)

    Ludlow, M.C.
    Ethiopian Serenaders (1848-49) Variety, 10 Jul. 1848 - 15 Jul. 1848
    Vauxhall Gardens, London (city-county)

    Ludlow, M.C.
    Ethiopian Serenaders (1848-49) Variety, 17 Jul. 1848 - 21 Jul. 1848
    Vauxhall Gardens, London (city-county)

    Ludlow, M.C.
    Ethiopian Serenaders (1848-49) Minstrel Show, 22 Jul. 1848 - 22 Jul. 1848
    Newburgh Rooms, Cannon Place, Sussex
    Dumbolton's Serenaders (1848-49) Minstrel Show, 06 Dec. 1848 - 09 Dec. 1848
    St. James Theatre, London (city-county)

    Ludlow, M.C.
    Ethiopian Serenaders (1848-49) Minstrel Show, 18 Dec. 1848 - 20 Dec. 1848
    Theatre Royal, Birmingham, Warwickshire

    Ludlow, M.C.
    Ethiopian Serenaders (1848-49) Minstrel Show, 23 Dec. 1848 - 23 Dec. 1848
    Theatre Royal, Wolverhampton, Staffordshire

    Ludlow, M.C.
    Ethiopian Serenaders (1848-49) Minstrel Show, 19 Mar. 1849 - 24 Mar. 1849
    Theatre Royal, Birmingham, Warwickshire

    Ludlow, M.C.
    Ethiopian Serenaders (1848-49) Minstrel Show, 05 Jun. 1849 - 09 Jun. 1849
    Sadler's Wells, London (city-county)

    Juba
    Ethiopian Serenaders (1849-50) Dramatic, 28 Aug. 1849 - 28 Aug. 1849
    Edinburgh Adelphi Theatre, Edinburgh