*The Glendy Burk

(by Stephen C. Foster)

Recording by RW: 

The Glendy Burk is a mighty fast boat, with a mighty fast captain too;
He sits up there on the hurricane roof and he keeps his eye on the crew.
I can’t stay here, for they work too hard; I’m bound to leave this town;
I’ll take my duds and tote ’em on my back when the Glendy Burk comes down.

(It’s) ho! for Lou’siana, I’m bound to leave this town;
I’ll take my duds and tote ’em on my back
when the Glendy Burk comes down.

The Glendy Burk has a funny old crew, and they sing the boatman’s song.
They burn the pitch and the pine knot too, for to shove the boat along.
The smoke goes up and the engine roars and the wheel goes ’round and ’round,
So fare you well, I’ll take a little ride when the Glendy Burk comes down.

I’ll work all night in the wind and storm, I’ll work all day in the rain,
Till I find myself on the levee dock in New Orleans again.
They make me mow in the hay-field here and knock my head with the flail,
I’ll go where they work with the sugar and the cane and roll the cotton bale.

My lady love is as pretty as a pink, I’ll meet her on the way,
I’ll take her back to the sunny old south and there I’ll make her stay.
So don’t you fret, my honey dear, oh! don’t you fret, Miss Brown,
I’ll take you back ’fore the middle of the week when the Glendy Burk comes down.

Song Notes:

According to Ken Emerson, Doo-Dah! Stephen Foster and the Rise of American Popular Culture, Da Capo, 1997?, p. 255, “The steamboat Glendy Burke (never a sure speller, Foster dropped the “e”) had been built in Jefferson, Indiana, in 1851, and named for a New Orleans banker, merchant, and legislator, Glenn D. Burke, with whom Morrison Foster [Stephen’s brother) had done business back in 1843…. [T]he Glendy Burke was no longer even afloat. In 1855, the 435-ton side wheel packet hit a snag and broke up near Cairo. Its wreckage damaged other vessels for decades. Foster’s ‘mighty fast boat’ was nothing but a navigational hazard.”

1 thought on “*The Glendy Burk

  1. Steven S. Lohmeyer

    The Glendy Burke was not built in Jefferson, Indiana — a landlock community in the middle of the Northwest Indiana prairie. The Glendy Burke was built at the Howard Steamboat Yard on the mighty Ohio River in Jeffersonville,


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