For several reasons, Show Boat, which opened on December 27, 1927, and ran for over a year and a half to capacity houses, was a groundbreaking Broadway musical. In 150 Years of Popular Musical Theatre, author Andrew Lamb says, “Not the least significant aspect of mid-1920s musicals such as [Jerome] Kern’s Sunny was the way the score incorporated incidental music, underscoring, melodrama, and reprises that kept the piece flowing from scene to scene. This was a particular feature of Kern’s scores, and it reached its apogee in a collaboration with Oscar Hammerstein that became one of the great milestones of the American theatre. Show Boat brilliantly integrated vernacular song and dance, as well as anticipating film techniques in its use of underscoring of dialogue.”
Here we all work 'long the Mississippi Here we all work while the white folk play Pullin' them boats from the dawn till sunset Gettin' no rest till the judgment day
Don't look up and don't look down You don't das make the boss man frown Bend your knees and bow your head And pull that rope until your dead
Let me go 'way from the Mississippi Let me go 'way from the white man boss Show me that stream called the River Jordan That's the old stream that I long to cross.
Ol' Man River, that Ol' Man River He don't say nothin', but he must know somethin' He just keeps rollin', he keeps on rollin' along
He don't plant tatters, and he don't plant cotton And them what plants em, are soon forgotten But Ol' Man River, just keeps rollin' along
You and me, we sweat and strain Body all achin' and racked with pain Tote that barge and lift that bail You get a little drunk and you lands in jail
I gets weary, and sick of trying I'm tired of livin', but I'm scared of dyin' But Ol' Man River, he just keeps rolin' along