The short, beautiful lyrics in this post come to you courtesy of the incomparable American composer Stephen Foster.

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He became famous during his lifetime and many of his Civil War-era songs like My Old Kentucky Home and Oh! Susannah! are still played and sung today.

Despite his great talent, Foster was not a prosperous man, as the world goes; he never seemed to profit much from the enormous popularity of his songs. There is a persistent legend that he was delighted when he received $100 for Oh! Susannah! – the only proceeds he ever received from the song.

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His last years were especially trying. Foster was grief-stricken when his parents died, and his inability to capitalize on his fame only seemed to aggravate his depression. The circumstances put a heavy strain on his marriage to wife Jane, and she left him, taking their small daughter with her. Foster then moved into a squalid hotel in New York City, where he struggled to compose while living in abject poverty.

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