But more exciting to me is the actual concert, the show. The lush red curtains of the Winterland Ballroom on Thanksgiving night. Robbie Robertson’s gold Strat and soulful solos, including the extended one he’s forced to take when Eric Clapton’s strap malfunctions and nearly sends his own Stratocaster to the floor. The feeling of excitement in the crowd.
Like many of Foster’s compositions, “Oh! Susanna” was a blackface minstrel song. It was his breakthrough hit as a songwriter, a song that surely would have been a number one single if such a measurement had existed in the mid-nineteenth-century. The song quickly spread all over the country through its many publications and permutations on sheet music and as traveling minstrel troupes all over the country thrilled crowds with the tale of long-distance, lost, confused love, others began adapting Foster’s irresistible melody for their own purposes.