The 10 Best Stephen Foster Songs of All-Time

Stephen Foster

Stephen Collins Foster was born on July 4, 1826, in Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania. He was a composer and lyricist who wrote over 200 songs in his lifetime. Some of his most famous works include “Oh! Susanna”, “Camptown Races,” and “My Old Kentucky Home.” Foster died on January 13, 1864, at the age of 37. He was very successful in selling his music to various sheet music publishers throughout his career. Stephen Foster was the first fully professional U.S. songwriter.

10. Nelly Bly (1850)

Nelly Bly is a love song written by Stephen Foster about a young woman in love with a sailor. The song was published in 1850 and was very popular at the time. It describes the young woman’s longing for her sailor lover and sadness when he is away at sea. The lyrics are about as classic Stephen Foster as you can get.

9. Some Folks (1854)

The song was written in 1849 and published in 1854. It is about an enslaved person who longs for the freedom of the North. Foster himself was an abolitionist, and the song reflects that. It describes the various things the enslaved person misses about the North, including the “free” air and the “mountains high.” The lyrics are incredibly powerful, and the song is one of Foster’s most well-known and beloved.

8. Come Where My Love Lies Dreaming (1855)

“Come Where My Love Lies Dreaming” haunting melody is one of Foster’s most well-known and beloved tracks. The song tells the story of a man pining for his lost love, and the lyrics are incredibly romantic and touching. It is a must-listen for any fan of Stephen Foster’s music. It will leave you feeling touched and inspired.

7. Gentle Lena Clare(1993)

The song was written in 1857 as a lullaby for Foster’s adopted daughter, Lena. The lyrics are about a mother singing to her child and telling her how much she loves her. Many different artists have recorded the song, but the Robert Shaw Chorale and James Wainner are often considered the best. It was released in 1993 and became a hit, reaching number one on the adult contemporary chart. The song is beautiful and emotional, and it’s no wonder that it has become such a popular classic. If you haven’t heard it before, be sure to check it out! You won’t regret it.

6. That’s What’s the Matter (1862)

This song is about a man trying to tell his love interest that he loves her, but she doesn’t seem to understand. It reflects on the different things that the man has done to try and show her how he feels, but nothing has worked so far. It’s a heartfelt and emotional song that is still popular today. The song was originally published in 1862 and has been recorded by several different artists over the years.

5. Gentle Annie (1856)

One of Foster’s most enduring and popular songs, Gentle Annie, was composed as a waltz. The song is about a man’s unrequited love for a woman named Annie and has been recorded by numerous artists over the years. It describes the many ways the man loves Annie, including “with a fondness deep and true” and “with a love that cannot die.”

4. Nothing but a Plain Old Soldier (2000)

Stephen Foster’s “Nothing but a Plain Old Soldier” is one of American history’s most moving and patriotic songs. The song was written in honor of the Union soldiers who fought in the Civil War and published in 1861. The lyrics reflect Stephen Foster’s strong support for the Union cause, and his song continues to be popular today. Douglas Jimerson’s beautiful rendition of the song is a perfect tribute to Stephen Foster and the brave men and women who have fought for our country.

3. My Old Kentucky Home (1853)

My Old Kentucky Home was written in 1853 and is one of Foster’s most popular songs. The song is about a homesick man from his childhood home in Kentucky. It has been recorded by many different artists over the years and was made into an official state song of Kentucky in 1928. The song is about 5 minutes long and is a slow, ballad-style song that describes the beauty of Kentucky. It also has a melancholy feel, as the lyrics describe a home that is now gone.

2. Camptown Races (1850)

This upbeat song is about a race between the horses “Doodlebug” and “Deerfoot.” It was one of Foster’s most popular tunes and recorded by many different artists over the years. The song describes the excitement of the race and the fun that can be had at the Camptown races. The lyrics are light-hearted and fun, and the melody is catchy and easy to remember.

1. Oh Susanna (1848)

This is probably Foster’s most famous song. It was written in 1848 and is based on an old minstrel song. The song tells the story of a woman named Susanna traveling to California. It says that she is “going to leave the Arkansaw.” The song has been covered by many different artists and is a staple of American music.


These are just a few of Foster’s most popular and well-loved songs. He was a master of capturing the heartache and joy of everyday life in his music, and his songs continue to be popular today. If you’re looking for some great music to listen to, be sure to check out Stephen Foster’s work. You won’t be disappointed. Thank you for reading.

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