Tune of the Day: Oh! Susanna
Written by Stephen Foster, this famous song was first published in 1848. Popularly associated with the California Gold Rush, it is also occasionally called “Banjo on My Knee”, which by the way is the title of a 1936 film.
Probably by fortuitous coincidence rather than design, the song appeared in the public eye at the same time as the new polka fad was arriving from Europe. While minstrel songs prior to this time were considered uncouth, “Oh! Susanna!” thus provided an entry to the middle-class market.