Tune of the Day: My Old Kentucky Home
The first draft of “My Old Kentucky Home” appeared in Stephen Collins Foster's workbook under the title “Poor Uncle Tom, Good Night”. It was published in New York in 1853. According to folklore, Foster was inspired to write the song when, while traveling from his home in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to New Orleans, Louisiana, he stopped in Bardstown, Kentucky to visit his cousins, and saw their magnificent Federal Hill mansion. However, while Foster's trip to New Orleans is well-documented, his stop in Kentucky has not been conclusively substantiated. Also problematic is that the lyrics refer not to a mansion, but a “little cabin”. Also, Foster's trip took place in 1852, after the first draft of the song had already been written. Foster's only documented trip to Kentucky occurred in 1833 when his mother took him to visit relatives in Augusta and Louisville.
“My Old Kentucky Home” was adopted by the Kentucky General Assembly as the official state song in 1928. The song is sung annually at the Kentucky Derby with the accompaniment of the University of Louisville marching band. The tradition began sometime between 1921 and 1930, by which time it was established as the music played while the horses are led to the post parade. The University of Kentucky, in Lexington, also plays “My Old Kentucky Home” prior to each home football game and at the conclusion of its basketball games.