The Stanley Brothers – Man of Constant Sorrow

100 Greatest Country Songs of All Time !!! Was released in May 1951 together with "The Lonesome River" as a single (Columbia 20816). On September 15, 1959, the Stanley Brothers re-recorded the song on King Records for their album Everybody's Country Favorite.

On November 3, 1950, The Stanley Brothers recorded their version of the song with Columbia Records at the Castle Studios in Nashville. The Stanleys learned the song from their father Lee Stanley who had turned the song into a hymn sung a cappella in the Primitive Baptist tradition. The arrangement of the song in the recording however was their own and they performed the song in a faster tempo. This recording, titled “I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow”, was released in May 1951 together with “The Lonesome River” as a single (Columbia 20816). Neither Burnett nor Arthur copyrighted the song, which allowed Carter Stanley to copyright the song as his own work

Single I'm A Man Of Constant Sorrow King 1959
Single I’m A Man Of Constant Sorrow King 1959

On September 15, 1959, the Stanley Brothers re-recorded the song on King Records for their album Everybody’s Country Favorite. Ralph Stanley sang the solo all the way through in the 1950 version, but in the 1959 version he was joined by other members of the band in added refrains. The fiddle and mandolin of the early version were also replaced by guitar, and a verse was omitted. This version (King 45-5269) was released together with “How Mountain Girls Can Love” as a single that October 1959.

In July 1959, the Stanley Brothers performed the song at the Newport Folk Festival, which brought the song to the attention of other folk singers. It led to a number of recordings of the song in the 1960s, most notably by Joan Baez (1960), Bob Dylan (1961), Judy Collins (1961), and Peter, Paul and Mary (1962).

Released May 1951
Recorded November 3, 1950
Genre Folk bluegrass
Length 2:56
Label Columbia
Songwriter(s) Unknown

I am a man of constant sorrow
I’ve seen trouble all my days
I bid farewell to old Kentucky
The place where I was borned and raised
(The place where he was borned and raised)

For six long years I’ve been in trouble
No pleasure here on earth I find
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 own true 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 will 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)

Single I'm A Man Of Constant Sorrow Columbia 1951
Single I’m A Man Of Constant Sorrow Columbia 1951


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