Vox Populi

Vox Populi: A Public Sphere for Politics and Poetry

Video: Bill Monroe sings “The Wayfaring Stranger”

The legendary Bill Monroe sings “The Wayfaring Stranger,” 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. The best known version was part of the Carter Family’s repertoire for many years:

While travelin’ through this world below.
Yet there’s no sickness, no toil, nor danger,
In that bright land to which I go.
I’m goin’ there to see my Father.
And all my loved ones who’ve gone on.
I’m just goin’ over Jordan.
I’m just goin’ over home.
I know dark clouds will gather ’round me,
I know my way is hard and steep.
But beauteous fields arise before me,
Where God’s redeemed, their vigils keep.
I’m goin’ there to see my Mother.
She said she’d meet me when I come.
So, I’m just goin’ over Jordan.
I’m just goin’ over home.
I’m just goin’ over Jordan.
I’m just goin’ over home.

Born on a farm near Rosine, Kentucky, in 1911, Bill Monroe learned to play guitar and mandolin as a child, absorbing musical influences from both the white and black traditions of Appalachia. By age 12, he was performing at country dances with his uncle, Pendleton Vandiver (later immortalized as “Uncle Pen” in one of Monroe’s best-known songs). By 1932, Monroe and his two brothers were working as square dancers for a Midwestern rival of Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry. The Monroe brothers launched a radio show in 1934 and steadily built a following throughout the Midwest and South. Monroe went on to form the first incarnation of his Blue Grass Boys in 1938 and was hired as a regular performer on the Grand Ole Opry. The first recordings of Bill Monroe and His Blue Grass Boys were made in 1940 for the Bluebird label. Monroe is generally credited with inventing Blue Grass, a highly influential and sophisticated approach to traditional Appalachian folk music.

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Bill Monroe (September 13, 1911 – September 9, 1996)

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This entry was posted on September 27, 2015 by in Music, Opinion Leaders, Poetry and tagged , , , .
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