The Wayfaring Stranger (song)
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"The Wayfaring Stranger" (also known as "Poor Wayfaring Stranger" or "I Am a Poor Wayfaring Stranger"), Roud 3339, is a well-known American folk and gospel song likely originating in the early 19th century about a plaintive soul on the journey through life. As with most folk songs, many variations of the lyrics exist.
It has been speculated that "Wayfaring Stranger" may have been derived from "The Dowie Dens of Yarrow," a folk song from the Scottish Borders. However, the fact that the two songs differ entirely in subject matter calls the theory into doubt.
Notable covers and uses
- In 1935 an arrangement was included in The Sacred Harp shape note songbook.
- It became one of Burl Ives' signature songs, included on his 1944 album The Wayfaring Stranger. Ives used it as the title of his early 1940s CBS radio show and his 1948 autobiography.
- Esther & Abi Ofarim recorded "Wayfaring Stranger" under the title "I'm Going Home" in 1966.
- Actor/singer Michael Parks and Bonnie Bedelia sang "Wayfarin' Stranger" in the pilot episode of Then Came Bronson in 1969.
- Emmylou Harris covered the song on her 1980 album Roses in the Snow. Harris' version peaked at number 7 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart. It reached number 1 on the RPM Country Tracks chart in Canada.
- Natalie Merchant covers "The Wayfaring Stranger" (as "Poor Wayfaring Stranger") in her own arrangement on her 2003 album "The House Carpenter's Daughter."
- In 2012, electronic music producer Pretty Lights covered "Wayfaring Stranger", making a collaboration with American bluegrass musician Dr Ralph Stanley and country singer LeAnn Rimes. The track was made for the musical documentary Re:GENERATION Music Project, which describes the process of making music by artists coming from two different musical backgrounds.
- Singer/actor Steve Earle covers "Wayfaring Stranger" in the 2015 film The World Made Straight.
- Norman Cazden, Herbert Haufrecht, Norman Studer. Folk Songs of the Catskills. SUNY Press, 1982. 292-294. ISBN 0-87395-581-1
- Rob Adams. "Phil Cunningham on how Scots migrants created American music". Herald Scotland.
- Western Writers of America (2010). "The Top 100 Western Songs". American Cowboy. Archived from the original on 10 August 2014.
- "Emmylou Harris - Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved June 24, 2013.
- "RPM Country Tracks for August 23, 1980". RPM. Retrieved June 24, 2013.
- John F. Garst, "'Poor Wayfaring Stranger'—Early Publications," The Hymn: [A Publication of the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada], vol. 31, no. 2, 1980, pp. 97–101
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