(Richard Burnett; c. 1913)

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What about this "Farewell Song" -- "I am a man of constant sorrow" -- did you write it?'

No, I think I got the ballet [sic] from somebody -- I dunno. It may be my song...

"Man of Constant Sorrow -- Richard Burnett's Story,", Old Time Music, No. 10 (Autumn 1973), p. 8.

Lyrics as printed in "Songs Sung By R. D. BURNETT. The blind man. Monticello - - - Kentucky." (no date); reprinted ibid. p. 10.

NOTES: Since we know that Dick Burnett was born in 1883, married in 1905, blinded in 1907... we can date two of these texts on the basis of internal evidence. The second stanza of "Farewell Song" mentions the singer has been blind six years, which would date it at 1913...

The best-known period version of "I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow" was Emry Arthur's 1928 recording (Vo 5208)

ibid., p, 9.

I am a man of constant sorrow,
I've seen trouble all of my days;
I'll bid farewell to old Kentucky,
The place where I was born and raised.

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.

So fare you well my own true lover,
I fear I never see you again,
For I'm bound to ride the Northern railroad,
Perhaps I'll die upon the train.

Oh, you may bury me in some deep valley,
For many year [sic] there I may lay.
Oh, when you're dreaming while you're slumbering
While I am sleeping in the clay.

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.

Dear friends, although I may be a stranger,
My face you may never see no more;
But there's a promise that is given,
Where we can meet on that beautiful shore.