In 1850, after the success of "O! Susannah" in pirated editions convinced him to give up bookkeeping, Stephen Collins Foster became American songwriting's first professional. Fourteen years later, he was its first tragic failure: Having sold off his early, valuable copyrights, he died in penury after collapsing in a Bowery flop. In between, he put his name to a handful of melodies and lyrics—"Camptown Races," "I Dream of Jeannie With the Light Brown Hair," "Old Folks at Home"—that are still with us, like half-remembered ghosts of the 19th century... More >>>