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Man Of Constant Sorrow

by

Soggy Bottom Boys



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

This song was featured in the movie Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?, which is based on the novel The Odyssey. The song relates to the story: the line, "I am a man of constant sorrow. I've seen trouble all my days" refers to Odysseus and all the troubles he had on his journey home. (thanks, Patrick - Des Moines, IA)
The Soggy Bottom Boys were a group that was made up for the movie with George Clooney as one of the members. The real voice was that of Dan Tyminski from the band Union Station, with backing vocals from Harley Allen and Pat Enright. Tyminski was later tapped by the EDM star Avicii to sing on his 2013 Bluegrass-inspired song "Hey Brother."
This song was first published in 1913 by the blind Folk singer Richard Burnett. Some artists who recorded the song include The Stanley Brothers, Bob Dylan and Jerry Garcia. (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
The song won the 2001 CMA award for Best Single and a Grammy Award for Best Country Collaboration with Vocals.
Released in 1961, Judy Collins' first album was called A Maid of Constant Sorrow, with the title track being a version of this song with the gender reversed.
Soggy Bottom Boys
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Comments (13):

One of THEE best moments in Grammy history was the reaction of the lead singer, Dan Tyminski, when they announced 'Man of Constant Sorrow' to be 'Best Country Collaboration with Vocals' (2001). You could tell he was beyond amazed; he started to stand up, but the moment overwhelmed him and he sat back down, shaking his head, his big smile beaming across his face. It was as if he couldn't quite believe it. I'll never forget seeing that on TV.
- Camille, Toronto, OH
The song is a real life reflection of a bluegrass musician from Kentucky of the early 20th century. He was miner and logger who was robbed, shot and ended up blind. His only means of income was his music.
- Jim, West Palm Beach, FL
Of course the Odyssey is not a novel, but an ancient epic. Indeed, Odysseus (Ulysses) is called all the time 'the much-troubled' as an epitheton, but this song isn't really based on the Odyssey, it's only associated with it by the 'Brother'-movie.
- Eisso, Groningen, Netherlands
Good song, Good movie. It really opened up the bluegrass genre to American music. A task that needed doing.
- Thomas, Somerville, AL
I really like this version. Bob Dylan's cover is just too whiney (and I like Dylan). Dan Tyminiski from Union Station actually sang it. Don't know if Clooney can sing but I kinda doubt it.
- Henry O. Godwinn, Wheeling, WV
Kentucky bluegrass fiddler Dick Burnett wrote the song in 1913. Emry Arthur first recorded it in 1928, but it was made famous by Ralph Stanley and the Stanley Brothers in 1950. Bob Dylan and Waylon Jennings recorded a version (as did Peter, Paul, and Mary). Rod Stewart didn't record his version until 1969. As a child of bluegrass, this song has been around for a while. I remember hearing it played as a very young girl.
- Sarah, Nashville, TN
On "The Rod Stewart Album" Rod is listed as the writer. Obviously, they should have listed him as the arranger for that version, and not the writer.
- Gabe, Arlington, VA
I've heard that Clooney was being approached after the movie came out by people thinking he was singing because he did such a great job lip-syncing. As anyone who has tried to sing along with their favourite song on the radio can testify, good syncing ain't easy. Kudos to George.
- Allan, Vanderhoof, Canada
The Emry Arthur version was recorded in 1929.
- Tim, Charlotte, NC
This is a traditional Folk Song. The earliest recording I could find was by EMRY ARTHUR on the album "Man Of Constant Sorrow
and Other Timeless Mountain Ballads
Classic Recordings of the 1920s and 30s" on the Yazoo label.

It also appears on Bob Dylan's first album in 1962 (which was mostly folk covers) and the "No Direction Home" soundtrack. Also recorded by Joan Baez, Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, Rod Stewart, and many others.
- Tim, Charlotte, NC
Song released by Rod Stewart in 1969 on the album "An Old Raincoat Wont Ever Let You Down"/"The Rod Stewart Album" (UK/US)
- Ørjan, Bergen, Norway
This was so popular in Australia that it reached #96 on the Triple J Hot 100
- Linus, Hamilton, ON, Canada
I heard a great story that George Clooney sang this while they were shooting the scene and even though he knew he sounded awful he pretended to think he'd done a great job just to tease the producers. He has said in interviews that his aunt (big band great Rosemary Clooney) got all the musical talent in the family.
- Dennis, Anchorage, AK
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