Oh! Susanna


I said the previous song was probably one of the most popular in the book, but I could also say it about this song. Although I am only familiar with three of the four verses in the original sheet music. I think you will be able to quickly tell which verse it is, and why modern singers have dropped it.

One of the things to notice, when trying to make sense out of the song (I know, make sense out of a nonsense song, right LOL), is that the South is not a direction, but a place. You notice he is coming from Alabama and going to Louisiana, but he is coming from the South. So he is heading south, which would be coming from the north. So south doesn’t mean direction, it means place. Alabama is the South — Louisiana is not. Louisiana is Cajun, is different. Just one of the many things about time and place it is so easy for us to lose.

And now, here it is:

I came from Alabama wid my banjo on my knee,

I’m g’wan to Lousiana My true love for to see,

It rain’d all night the day I left, The weather it was dry,

The sun so hot I frose to death’ Susanna, dont you cry.


Oh! Susanna, Oh’ dont you cry for me,

I’ve come from Alabama, wid my banjo on my knee.

I jumped aboard de telegraph, And trabbelled down de riber,

De Lectrie fluid magnified, And killed five hundred Nigger

De bullgine bust, de horse run off, I really thought I’d die;

I shut my eyes to hold my breath, Susanna, dont you cry.


I had a dream de odder night When ebery ting was still;

I thought I saw Susanna, A coming down de hill.

The buckwheat cake war in her mouth, The tear was in her eye,

Says ‘m coming from de South,Susanna, dont you cry.


I soon will be in New Orleans, And den I’ll look all round,

And when I find Susanna, I’ll fall upon the ground.

But if I do not find her, Dis darkie ‘I surely die,

And when I’m dead and buried, Susanna, dont you cry.



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