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"'Carry Me Back to Old Virginny'" is a song written circa 1878 by James A. Bland (1854–1911), an African-American composer and minstrel performer. It was Virginia's state song from 1940 until 1997.
There is some evidence suggesting that it is an adaptation of "Carry Me Back to Ole Virginny" which had been popular since the 1840s and was sung by Confederate soldiers during the American Civil War.
As Virginia's state song
A third reworded version was Virginia's state song from 1940 until 1997, using the word "Virginia" instead of "Virginny." In 1997, it was retired as the state song, largely due to controversy over the lyrics' racial content (such as the narrator being a slave, and referring to himself as a "darkey"). On January 28, 1997, the Virginia Senate voted to designate "Carry Me Back to Old Virginia" as state song emeritus and a study committee initiated a contest for writing a new state song.
The song was representative of the commonwealth in many ways. "When Clifton A. Woodrum was in Congress, the House of Representatives couldn't adjourn until the honorable Democrat from Roanoke, Virginia with a rich and varied baritone voice led the body in a rendition of "Carry Me Back to Old Virginny".Chittum, Matt. 2018. "Career in the Key of Roanoke". Roanoke Times. [http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/930723037 Discover History & Heritage]. February 2018. Page 100.
In January 2006, a state Senate panel voted to designate "Shenandoah" as the "interim official state song." On March 1, 2006, the House Rules Committee of the General Assembly voted down bill SB682, which would have made "Shenandoah" the official state song.
* Alma Gluck, whose 1916 version often is cited, without confirmation, as the first celebrity recording by a classical musician to sell one million copies.
* Rosa Ponselle recorded a version commercially on June 2, 1925. Broadcast recordings exist of her singing it in a General Motors Hour program of May 24, 1936 (Erno Rapee conducting) and an RCA Magic Key program of May 2, 1937 (Frank Black conducting).
* Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald in Robert Z. Leonard's 1937 film 'Maytime'.
* Louis Armstrong and The Mills Brothers, recorded the song together in 1937.
* Frankie Laine released a version of the song as the other side of the "Mule Train" single.[http://www.discogs.com/Frankie-Laine-Mule-Train-Carry-Me-Back-To-Old-Virginney/release/2962044 Frankie Laine, "Mule Train/Carry Me Back To Old Virginney"] Retrieved April 13, 2012.
* Virginia O'Brien recorded this song in her trademark deadpan style in a dream sequence for Martin Block's 'Musical Merry-Go-Round'.
* Bing Crosby included the song in a medley on his album '101 Gang Songs' (1961).
* Jerry Lee Lewis also recorded this song in 1963 for Sun Records.[http://www.allmusic.com/album/up-through-the-years-1958-1963-r78331 Jerry Lee Lewis, 'Up Through the Years, 1958-1963'] Retrieved April 13, 2012.
* Ray Charles released a version of the song on his album 'The Genius Hits the Road';[http://www.allmusic.com/album/the-genius-hits-the-road-r3664 Ray Charles, 'The Genius Hits the Road'] Retrieved April 13, 2012. it also served as the B-side of his famed 1960 recording of "Georgia on My Mind."
* The Marching Virginians, Virginia Tech's marching band, regularly plays an instrumental rendition of the song, during its field shows and concerts.
* The melody is a popular tune in Iceland, the lyrics by Pll lafsson are an ode to the plover as a sign of the arrival of spring.
* In Sweden, the melody is set to Christian lyrics with the title "Striden p jorden evig ej skall vara". Bo Andersson and Per-Gran Ekeroos, duet, with ensemble recorded it on 1966.
Lyrics (Bland's 1878 version)
Lyrics (Edward Christy's original)
Old Crow Medicine Show: 'Carry Me Back' (2012)
Americana string band Old Crow Medicine Show's 2012 album, 'Carry Me Back', derives its name from 'Carry Me Back to Old Virginny'. The song with "such a pleasurable melody and such discomfiting politics that it has fascinated bandleader Ketch Secor since he was a kid in Virginia" led him to write "Carry Me Back to Virginia," for the group's album."[http://mplayer.pastemagazine.com/issues/week-52/articles Troubling Traditions] " by Geoffrey Himes; Issue 52 Paste Magazine 2012. As Secor reveals:
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