The Old Band

A poem by James Whitcomb Riley

It's mighty good to git back to the old town, shore,
Considerin' I've be'n away twenty year and more.
Sence I moved then to Kansas, of course I see a change,
A-comin' back, and notice things that's new to me and strange;
Especially at evening when yer new band-fellers meet,
In fancy uniforms and all, and play out on the street -
. . . What's come of old Bill Lindsey and the Saxhorn fellers - say?
I want to hear the old band play.

What's come of Eastman, and Nat Snow? And where's War Barnett at?
And Nate and Bony Meek; Bill Hart; Tom Richa'son and that-
Air brother of him played the drum as twic't as big as Jim;
And old Hi Kerns, the carpenter - say, what's become o' him?
I make no doubt yer new band now's a competenter band,
And plays their music more by note than what they play by hand,
And stylisher and grander tunes; but somehow - anyway,
I want to hear the old band play.

Sich tunes as "John Brown's Body" and "Sweet Alice," don't you know;
And "The Camels is A-comin'," and "John Anderson, my Jo";
And a dozent others of 'em - "Number Nine" and "Number 'Leven"
Was favo-rites that fairly made a feller dream o' Heaven.
And when the boys 'u'd saranade, I've laid so still in bed
I've even heerd the locus'-blossoms droppin' on the shed
When "Lilly Dale," er "Hazel Dell," had sobbed and died away -
. . . I want to hear the old band play.

Yer new band ma'by beats it, but the old band's what I said -
It allus 'peared to kind o' chord with somepin' in my head;
And, whilse I'm no musicianer, when my blame' eyes is jes'
Nigh drownded out, and Mem'ry squares her jaws and sort o' says
She won't ner never will fergit, I want to jes' turn in
And take and light right out o' here and git back West ag'in
And stay there, when I git there, where I never haf to say
I want to hear the old band play.

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