In advance of this weekend’s Kentucky Derby, John Prine debuts his incredibly poignant and reflective acoustic version of “My Old Kentucky Home, Goodnight.”
John Prine’s “My Old Kentucky Home, Goodnight”
The anthem is nothing short of a tradition when it comes to the opening of the Kentucky Derby. The song was selected and adopted by the Kentucky state legislature as the state’s official song.
The song is available digitally, but it will also receive a limited release on 7-inch Kentucky blue vinyl, accompanied by “Paradise,” featuring special guest Tyler Childers in a live 2018 performance.
Prine first recorded the song in 2004, when it was included on the Grammy-winning compilation Beautiful Dreamer, which featured 18 songs all written by Stephen Foster.
Proceeds from the release will benefit the Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center, a non-profit law firm representing coal miners and their families in the Appalachian region.
Pre-order of the 7-inch vinyl is now available!
Listen to Prine’s amazing rendition here!
The original was written by Stephen Foster sometime in 1852. It’s actually quite a dark song, written for a traveling minstrel group.
Originally entitled “Poor Uncle Tom, Goodnight!,” the song laments about his plight about being sold down the river. The slave is saying goodbye to Kentucky to face the oncoming abuse and work in the ‘land where the sugar canes grow.’
It was inspired by Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the landmark 1852 antislavery novel by Harriet Beecher Stowe. Foster, whose song was published just a few months after that book reached the public, had been traveling on the Mississippi River with his family and longtime friend, abolitionist Charles Shiras.
However, over the years, the song has been reinterpreted by many as an anthemic dedication to Kentucky and the love of home in it. It has been employed by politicians and became a fixture at the Kentucky Derby, one of the nation’s biggest sporting events.