This was popularized by Burl Ives in the 1940s when he used the title "The Wayfaring Stranger" as the name of his radio program, his first two albums, and his 1948 autobiography. Despite the title Okeh Presents The Wayfaring Stranger
, he didn't record the song for his 1941 debut album (or its 1944 Columbia reissue). It made its first appearance as "The Poor Wayfaring Stranger" on 1944's The Wayfaring Stranger
, released via Asch Records.
Ives identified with the song's beleaguered wanderer as he dropped out of college and went on his own journey across the US, singing and collecting folk songs in the 1930s. Although he became well-known for his holly jolly
Christmas tunes thanks to his role as Sam the Snowman in the 1964 TV special Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer
, traditional folk songs were his bread and butter. He popularized many of them, including "Blue Tail Fly" (with The Andrews Sisters) and "The Big Rock Candy Mountain