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New England Song Series No. 2:

The True Story of "GOIN' HOME"

From Bohemia To Boston

 

Words to the song:

Goin' home, goin' home, I'm a goin' home;
Quiet-like, some still day, I'm jes' goin' home.
It's not far, jes' close by,
Through an open door;
Work all done, care laid by,
Goin' to fear no more.
Mother's there 'spectin' me,
Father's waitin' too;
Lots o' folk gather'd there,
All the friends I knew,
All the friends I knew.
Home, I'm goin' home!

Nothin lost, all's gain,
No more fret nor pain,
No more stumblin' on the way,
No more longin' for the day,
Goin' to roam no more!
Mornin' star lights the way,
Res'less dream all done;
Shadows gone, break o' day,
Real life jes' begun.
There's no break, there's no end,
Jes' a livin' on;
Wide awake, with a smile
Goin' on and on.

Goin' home, goin' home, I'm jes' goin' home,
goin' home, goin' home, goin' home!

 

 

From symphony to song

The above words for the beautiful song, "Goin' Home" (also known as "Going Home"), are based on Antonin Dvorak's famous "Largo" theme played on English Horn from his Symphony No. 9 (From the New World), Op. 95 [shown above]. His symphony was composed while he was in America and was first performed by the New York Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall on 16 December 1893.

It has been said that Dvorak's themes in his symphony were inspired by American folk melodies, especially Afro-American. But his themes are just as similar to Czech or Bohemian folk music and probably came from his own country's music tradition.

Did Dvorak have anything to do with writing the words or arranging the music for"Goin' Home"?

No.

Some have claimed that "Goin Home" was based on a "negro spiritual" written by Harry T. Burleigh. That is incorrect, even though Burleigh worked with Dvorak when he was in America.

 

The man who wrote the song

"Goin' Home"was actually written by one of Dvorak's pupils, William Arms Fisher (1861-1948), who adapted and arranged the Largo theme and added his own words, as indicated on the sheet music cover published by Oliver Ditson Company in Boston (shown at at the top of this page).

This is part of what Fisher wrote in the published sheet music of his song, "Goin' Home":

The Largo, with its haunting English horn solo, is the outpouring of Dvorak's own home-longing, with something of the loneliness of far-off prairie horizons, the faint memory of the red-man's bygone days, and a sense of the tragedy of the black-man as it sings in his "spirituals." Deeper still it is a moving expression of that nostalgia of the soul all human beings feel. That the lyric opening theme of the Largo should spontaneously suggest the words 'Goin' home, goin' home' is natural enough, and that the lines that follow the melody should take the form of a negro spiritual accords with the genesis of the symphony.

-- William Arms Fisher, Boston, July 21, 1922.

It has sometimes been sung at funerals. Fisher described his song as: "a moving expression of that nostalgia of the soul all human beings feel." Thus, it might be suitable for a funeral or any other somber occasion "of the soul."

But the false claims that continue to be written about this beautiful and poignant song just keep the correct author from getting his just credit for the song he titled, GOIN' HOME.

-- Roger Lee Hall
Director, Center for American Music Preservation

Two recommended recordings of the song

1. The English boy choir, Libera, sing a version
beautifully arranged by Robert Prizeman on the CD: angel voices

Hear Libera sing the song arrangement from their CD on YouTube -- click here

2. "Goin' Home" was recorded at a famous Carnegie Hall concert in New York by Paul Robeson, one of the greatest concert singers of the 20th century. Originally released on 2-LP albums, this highly recommended concert is now available on a CD at this link:

Paul Robeson - Live at Carnegie Hall
The Historic May 9, 1958 Concert

Hear Paul Robeson sing this song on YouTube -- click here

 


Fisher's "Goin' Home"
was poignantly sung by singer, Jan Clayton,

and a chorus in the 20th Century-Fox movie,
THE SNAKE PIT (1948)

 

 

For other titles in the New England Song Series -- click here

 

 

For any comments or questions, write to: PineTree Productions

 

 


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