Traditional Appalachian ballad
, a favorite of bluegrass
bands and folk
singers, probably due to the Stanley Brothers
recording of it in the early 1950s
. It's been recorded by everyone from the Country Gentlemen
to Jerry Garcia
, Joan Baez
to Ginger Baker
, Jackson Browne
to Waylon Jennings
(And, if you can believe the Coen brothers
, the Soggy Bottom Boys
It probably first hit the charts as a recording by Emry Arthur in 1928
. Versions have been published under the name "Farewell song" and "In Old Virginny." Judy Collins
has recorded a common variation
, Maid of Constant Sorrow
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 born and raised
For six long years I've been in trouble
No pleasure here on earth I found
For in this world I'm bound to ramble
I have no friends to help me now
It's fare you 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
You may 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
Maybe your friends think I'm just a stranger
My face you never will see no more
But there is one promise that is given
I'll meet you on God's golden shore
In the folk tradition
, different artists have made the song their own. Other verses:
Oh, six long year sic I've been blind, friends.
My pleasures here on earth are done,
In this world I have to ramble,
For I have no parents to help me now.
Oh, fare you well to my native country,
The place where I have loved so well,
For I have all kinds of trouble,
In this vain world no tongue can tell.
(from R.D. Burnett, 1913)
released a version on his 1962 Bob Dylan
LP. To my ear
, his arrangement
is significantly different from the "standard
" version as to nearly be unrecognizable
I am a man of constant sorrow,
I've seen trouble all my days.
I'll say goodbye to Colorado,
Where I was born and partly raised.
Your mother says, I'm a stranger;
My face you'll never see no more.
But there's one promise, darling;
I'll see you on God's golden shore.
Through this open world I'm a-bound to ramble,
Through ice and snow, sleet and rain.
I'm a-bound to ride that mornin' railroad,
Perhaps I'll die on that train.
I'm goin' back to Colorado,
Place that I started from.
If I'd knowed how bad you treat me,
Honey, I never would have come.
And the cover by Rod Stewart
I wouldn't wish on anybody.
*In the film O Brother, Where Art Thou? George Clooney's singing was done by Dan Tyminski.