Happy Thanksgiving to All.
I won’t be around today until later. My family is coming over early and is expected to be here most of the day.
I decided to go youtube surfing to find today’s track, and I knew the right song would speak to me. I was right. I first heard it in a movie, “O Brother, Where Art Thou?,” an endearing film by the Coen Brothers. If you know anything about the Coen Brothers you will know their movies are hilarious but can also be biting. O Brother… is no exception. For those who haven’t seen this movie (yet!) the song chosen today is an important one in the film, and a substantial part of the plot hinges on it.
O Brother, Where Art Thou? is the soundtrack album of music from the 2000 American film of the same name, written, directed and produced by the Coen Brothers and starring George Clooney, John Turturro, Tim Blake Nelson, and John Goodman. It was released on December 5, 2000.
The film is set in Mississippi during the Great Depression. The soundtrack, produced by T-Bone Burnett, uses bluegrass, country, gospel, blues, and folk music appropriate to the time period. With the exception of a few vintage tracks (such as Harry McClintock’s 1928 single “Big Rock Candy Mountain”), most tracks are modern recordings.
The soundtrack was reissued on August 23, 2011, with 14 new tracks that were not included in the original album, “including 12 previously unreleased cuts from music producer T-Bone Burnett’s O Brother sessions.”
The soundtrack was conceived as a major component of the film, not merely as a background or support. For this reason it was decided to record the soundtrack before filming. T-Bone Burnett was invited to design collections of music.
“I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow” has five variations: two are used in the film, one in the music video, and two in the album. Two of the variations feature the verses being sung back-to-back, and the other three variations feature additional music between each verse. The voices of the Soggy Bottom Boys were provided by Dan Tyminski (lead vocal on “I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow”), Nashville songwriter Harley Allen, and the Nashville Bluegrass Band’s Pat Enright.
I needed to go out to find more on this song and this is what wikpedia told me:
“Man of Constant Sorrow” (also known as “I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow”) is a traditional American folk song first published by Dick Burnett, a partially blind fiddler from Kentucky. The song was originally titled “Farewell Song” in a songbook by Burnett dated to around 1913. An early version was recorded by Emry Arthur in 1928, which gave the song its current titles.
There exist a number of versions of the song that differ in their lyrics and melodies. The song was popularized by The Stanley Brothers, who recorded the song in the 1950s, and many other singers recorded versions in the 1960s, most notably by Bob Dylan. Variations of the song have also been recorded under the titles of “Girl of Constant Sorrow” by Joan Baez, “Maid of Constant Sorrow” by Judy Collins, and “Sorrow” by Peter, Paul and Mary. In 1970 the song was recorded by Ginger Baker’s Air Force, with vocals by Denny Laine, and reached No. 85 on the Billboard Chart.
Public interest in the song was renewed after the release of the 2000 film O Brother, Where Art Thou?, where it plays a central role in the plot, earning the three runaway protagonists public recognition as the Soggy Bottom Boys. The song, with lead vocal by Dan Tyminski, was also included in the film’s highly successful, multiple-platinum-selling soundtrack. This recording won a Grammy for Best Country Collaboration at the 44th Annual Grammy Awards in 2002.
Because of the origins of the song, I am including a 1950’s version by Ralph Stanley also.
I am a man of constant sorrow
I’ve seen trouble all my day
I bid farewell to old Kentucky
The place where I was born and raised
(The place where he was born and raised)
For six long years I’ve been in trouble
No pleasures here on earth I found
For in this world I’m bound to ramble
I have no friends to help me now
(He has no friends to help him now)
It’s fare thee well my old lover
I never expect to see you again
For I’m bound to ride that northern railroad
Perhaps I’ll die upon this train
(Perhaps he’ll die upon this train)
You can bury me in some deep valley
For many years where I may lay
Then you may learn to love another
While I am sleeping in my grave
(While he is sleeping in his grave)
Maybe your friends think I’m just a stranger
My face, you’ll never see no more
But there is one promise that is given
I’ll meet you on God’s golden shore
(He’ll meet you on God’s golden shore)
Songwriters: Traditional / Dick Burnett