Dere's an ol' man called de Mississippi Dat's de ol' man dat I'd like ta be! What does he care if de world's got troubles? What does he care if de land ain't free? Don't look up An' don't look down, You don' dast make De white boss frown. Bend your knees An' bow your head, An' pull dat rope Until you' dead. Let me go 'way from the Mississippi, Let me go 'way from de rich man boss; Show me dat stream called de river Jordan, Dat's de ol' stream dat I longs ta cross.> Ol' man river, Dat ol' man river He mus' know sumpin' But don't say nuthin', He jes' keeps rollin'
------Rest of Lyrics------
Colored folks work on de Mississippi, Colored folks work while de white folks play, Pullin' dose boats from de dawn to sunset, Gittin' no rest till de judgement day. O' man river, Dat ol' man river, He mus' know sumpin' But don't say nuthin' He jes' keeps rollin' He keeps on rollin' along. Long ol' river forever keeps rollin' on... He don' plant taters, He don' plant cotton, An' dem dat plants 'em Is soon forgotten, but ol' man river, He jes' keeps rollin' along. Long ol' river keeps hearing dat song. You an' me, we sweat an' strain, Body all achin an' rack't wid pain. Tote dat barge! Lif' dat bale! Gits a little drunk An' you land in jail. Ah, gits weary An' sick o' tryin' Ah'm tired of livin' An' skeered o' dyin', But ol' man river, He jes' keeps rollin' along!
-- Lyrics by: Oscar Hammerstein II
Music by: Jerome Kern
From the Show: Show Boat (1927)
Arranged by: Axel Stordahl, Kay Thompson, Bill Miller
Album Title: The V-Disc, 1943-1947 (disc 2)
Label: Columbia MGM Reprise
Reprise Recorded: 12/3/44~4/14/45~3/18/46~6/5/62~(live in Paris) 2/18/63
The show has been filmed three times in Hollywood, most famously by MGM in 1951 with Kathryn Grayson, Howard Keel and Ava Gardner
First performance at the Ziegfeld Theatre, 27 December, 1927
The story starts in the 1880s on one of the many American riverboats that featured traveling shows. It follows the lives and loves of the troupe that work aboard the Cotton Blossom under the command of Cap'n Andy and his wife Parthy Ann. In Natchez they come up against racial prejudice when the sheriff discovers that the leading lady, Julie, is a half-caste. He does not allow mixed shows in his town. The Captain's daughter, Magnolia, steps in to save the show together with her love, the handsome gambler Gaylord Ravenal. Gaylord also has problems with the sheriff over a little matter of gambling debts. Magnolia and Gaylord leave the relative security of the Cotton Blossom to go and live in Chicago where, for a few years they are happy. Gaylord's luck in winning at gambling eventually makes way for losing and soon his gambling losses cause him to leave his wife and their daughter, Kim.
Two of the old showboat song-and-dance pair, Frank and Ellie, have become successful on the vaudeville circuit and they meet up with Magnolia. Realizing her desperate situation they get her a job as a singer at the Trocadero to replace the, by now alcoholic, Julie La Verne, the same Julie La Verne who used to be the Show Boat star.
Years later, both Magnolia and Kim are radio stars and Cap'n Andy organizes a reunion of the old team aboard the Cotton Blossom and invites them. It is the ideal opportunity for them to be reunited with the now reformed Gaylord. Frank and Ellie stop off to greet their old colleagues en route to Hollywood.
Running throughout the story is the story of Joe, a colored stevedore and his girl, Queenie and their role in a predominantly white environment where the colored folk are very much considered second class citizens - if they are considered at all.
Magnolia Hawkes Ravenal - A Singer
Gaylord Ravenal - A Gambler
Captain Andy Hawkes - Magnolia's Father
Julie La Verne - a singer
Joe - a Stevedore
Parthy Ann Hawkes - Magnolia's mother
Queenie - Joe's Girl
Ellie May Chipley - a soubrette
Frank Schultz - A character actor/singer
Steve Baker - Julie's husband
Announcer at the Trocadero
Paul Robeson was the epitome of the 20th-century Renaissance man. He was an exceptional athlete, actor, singer, cultural scholar, author, and political activist. His innumerable talents made him a revered man of his time, yet his radical political beliefs all but erased him from popular history. Today, more than one hundred years after his birth, Robeson is just beginning to receive the credit he is due.
Born in 1898, Paul Robeson grew up in Princeton, New Jersey. His father had escaped slavery and become a Presbyterian minister, while his mother was from a distinguished Philadelphia family. At seventeen, he was given a scholarship to Rutgers University, where he received an unprecedented twelve major letters in four years and was his class valedictorian. After graduating he went on to Columbia University Law School, and, in the early 1920s, took a job with a New York law firm. Racial strife at the firm ended Robeson's career as a lawyer early, but he was soon to find an appreciative home for his talents.
Returning to his love of public speaking, Robeson began to find work as an actor. In the mid-1920s he played the lead in Eugene O'Neill's All God's Chillun Got Wings" (1924) and "The Emperor Jones" (1925). Throughout the late 1920s and 1930s, he was a widely acclaimed actor and singer. With songs such as his trademark "Ol' Man River," he became one of the most popular concert singers of his time. His "Othello" was the longest-running Shakespeare play in Broadway history, running for nearly three hundred performances. It is still considered one of the great-American Shakespeare productions. While his fame grew in the United States, he became equally well-loved internationally. He spoke fifteen languages, and performed benefits throughout the world for causes of social justice. More than any other performer of his time, he believed that the famous have a responsibility to fight for justice and peace.
As an actor, Robeson was one of the first black men to play serious roles in the primarily white American theater. He performed in a number of films as well, including a re-make of "The Emperor Jones" (1933) and "Song of Freedom" (1936). In a time of deeply entrenched racism, he continually struggled for further understanding of cultural difference. At the height of his popularity, Robeson was a national symbol and a cultural leader in the war against fascism abroad and racism at home. He was admired and befriended by both the general public and prominent personalities, including Eleanor Roosevelt, W.E.B. Du Bois, Joe Louis, Pablo Neruda, Lena Horne, and Harry Truman. While his varied talents and his outspoken defense of civil liberties brought him many admirers, it also made him enemies among conservatives trying to maintain the status quo.
During the 1940s, Robeson's black nationalist and anti-colonialist activities brought him to the attention of Senator Joseph McCarthy. Despite his contributions as an entertainer to the Allied forces during World War II, Robeson was singled out as a major threat to American democracy. Every attempt was made to silence and discredit him, and in 1950 the persecution reached a climax when his passport was revoked. He could no longer travel abroad to perform, and his career was stifled. Of this time, Lloyd Brown, a writer and long-time colleague of Robeson, states: "Paul Robeson was the most persecuted, the most ostracized, the most condemned black man in America, then or ever."
It was eight years before his passport was reinstated. A weary and triumphant Robeson began again to travel and give concerts in England and Australia. But the years of hardship had taken their toll. After several bouts of depression, he was admitted to a hospital in London, where he was administered continued shock treatments. When Robeson returned to the United States in 1963, he was misdiagnosed several times and treated for a variety of physical and psychological problems. Realizing that he was no longer the powerful singer or agile orator of his prime, he decided to step out of the public eye. He retired to Philadelphia and lived in self-imposed seclusion until his death in 1976.
To this day, Paul Robeson's many accomplishments remain obscured by the propaganda of those who tirelessly dogged him throughout his life. His role in the history of civil rights and as a spokesperson for the oppressed of other nations remains relatively unknown. In 1995, more than seventy-five years after graduating from Rutgers, his athletic achievements were finally recognized with his posthumous entry into the College Football Hall of Fame. Though a handful of movies and recordings are still available, they are a sad testament to one of the greatest Americans of the twentieth century. If we are to remember Paul Robeson for anything, it should be for the courage and the dignity with which he struggled for his own personal voice and for the rights of all people.