Ghost of Stephen Foster (Raymond Persi and Matthew Nastuk, 1999)

We return to our love of 1930s, East Coast animation tributes with Raymond Persi and Matthew Nastuk’s music video for “The Ghost of Stephen Foster” by Squirrel Nut Zippers.  We’re particularly fond of the layers of nostalgia fused together in this piece.  The Zippers, a retro-band that played an eclectic blend of musical styles derived from the 1930s (blues, swing, jazz), sing about a spectral meeting with the ghost of “America’s first composer,” Stephen Foster.  The video is an homage to Fleischer-style animation, notable for its elasticity, its looped and rhythmic motion, and its creativity.  It’s classic premise – the visit to a haunted house – has added meaning given Foster’s tragic death after living penniless, indebted, alone, and alcoholic in a New York Bowery hotel.  Unfortunately, we have no idea if Camptown ladies ever sang “All the doo dah day.”

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