“Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair”


"I dream of Jeanie with the light brown hair, Borne, like a vapor, on a summer's air." The singer praises her voice, her "day-dawn smile," etc., but sadly concludes, that he is "never more to find her where the bright waters flow."


Jeanie was Foster's wife, Jane McDowell Foster. Had she known the uses to which her image would be put (from hair advertisements in the 1860s to idiotic television shows a century later), I can only think she would have filed for preemptive divorce.

Legman regards "Jeanie" as an adaption (he calls it plagiarism) of "To Daunton Me," found in the _Scots Musical Museum_ (#182). But Legman often saw kinship that others do not see; Fuld says there is "no similarity between the two songs," and I have to agree that I see no points of contact between either the text or the tune.

Spaeth (_A History of Popular Music in America_, p. 116) says of this song, "_Jeanie_ is the song that America discovered during those incredibly dull months when radio decided that it could get along without copyyrighted music. Before that it had been considered a choice bit of rather obscure Fosteriana." - RBW


  1. Silber-FSWB, p. 249, "Jeanie With the Light Brown Hair" (1 text)
  2. Fuld-WFM, pp. 311-312, "Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair"
  4. BI, FSWB249


Alternate titles: “I Dream of Jeanie”
Author: Stephen C. Foster
Earliest date: 1854 (sheet music)
Found in: US