Old Timey Tuesdays! Wayfaring Stranger
It's Tuesday once again, and this week, I'm all by myself singing the lonesome lamentation, "Wayfaring Stranger." But before we get to the song, I take some time to examine the remarkable longevity of this tune and how I approach it. If music nerding ain't your bag, skip to 4:48 in the video.
"Wayfaring Stranger" has unknown origins. It's a haunting hymn that is theorized to have come from the Appalachians, the Catskills, Ireland or Scotland. I suspect it is an amalgam of many influences, perhaps a tune from one place, lyrics from another. It was first published in 1816, although it had been in the United States as early as the Revolutionary War and possibly earlier.
It's a song for tough times. It's an anthem for the lonely road. The thing I love about it most is that it is universal but also a personal, deeply American spiritual about hurt, hope and resolve.
Hundreds of artists have found comfort and inspiration in it over the years, some even going so far as to use it as their signature piece. For some, it's a song about dying. For others it's a song about going home. For me, it's a song about grit and perseverance, and not necessarily payoff.
*On Old Timey Tuesdays we feature old North American folk, bluegrass, country, blues, ballads, and work songs we love. Some we grew up singin'. Some we've discovered along the way. These songs don't appear in our live shows. But we love them too much not to play them. We hope you love them too.
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Got an old timey tune you love? We'd love to hear about it! Share in the comments below. Who knows? We may even give it the She's Folks spin on a future Old Timey Tuesday!