Tune of the Day: Camptown Races
The original title of this song was actually “Gwine to Run All Night”. It was written in 1850 by Stephen Foster, known as the “father of American music”, who was the preeminent songwriter in the United States of the 19th century. The original title referenced the African-American stereotype dialect in which the song was written.
The Camptown of Foster's own experience was in Pennsylvania, which now hosts an annual 10K cross-country foot race called Camptown Races. The word “camptown”, however, also refers to the temporary accommodations transients would set up around train tracks to make it easier to hop trains to get from job to job.
The song has made countless appearances in popular media, most notably in Mel Brooks's 1974 film Blazing Saddles. The 1998 song “Doodah!” by the Danish band Cartoons, which was a Top 10 hit in the UK, is a cover of Foster's “Camptown Races”.