One more day to go.
“Man of Constant Sorrow” is an old country song, which, according to Wikipedia, was first recorded by Dick Burnett, a “partially blind fiddler from Kentucky.” A later version, recorded in 1928 by Emry Arthur, can be heard here.
The song has changed a lot over the years, and the most familiar version is the one appearing in the 2009 Coen brothers movie “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” In that movie it was called “I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow,” supposedly recorded by the “Soggy Bottom Boys,” who were, in reality, Dan Tyminski, Harley Allen, and Pat Enright. That version won a Grammy and a Country Music Award. I find it immensely more appealing than the original version.
Here are Tyminski (b. 1967) and some others, whom I can’t identify, singing the version you may have heard. If you know of Alison Krauss and her band Union Station (I’ve posted on Krauss before), you’ll know Tyminski, who’s in the band.
Michael Martin Murphey (b. 1945) had one crossover hit, but it was a huge one, “Wildfire” (1975), a haunting song about a horse, a dead woman, and a “killing frost.” Dave Barry included it in his hilarious Book of Bad Songs (read it!), but I don’t think the song is bad at all; in fact, I like it a great deal. And this version by Murphey is one of the most compelling live renditions of any folk or country song I know. Yes, I know that calling it “country” is a stretch (sue me), but at least Martin wears country clothes when he sings it. The piano introduction and coda are superb:
“San Antonio Rose” is one of my favorite country songs, written and first performed by Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys in 1938 (listen to their version here). Since then it’s been recorded many times, one of the best versions being Patsy Cline’s. But to my mind, the best (and swingingest) version is the duet by Willie Nelson (b. 1933) and Ray Price (b. 1926, and currently fighting pancreatic cancer).
Oh hell, I’ll put up Patsy Cline’s version, which has a great modulation near the end: