I’m just a poor wayfaring stranger

Sunday, 25 February 2007, 23:56 | Category : Uncategorized
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Last thing on a Sunday, it’s time to get a little spiritual. Or rather, a spiritual. I haven’t been able to find much clarity on the origins of the song Wayfaring Stranger, other than it may have originated in the Appalachians. It’s certainly in the classic Biblical tradition of Christians looking beyond the sufferings of this world to the world to come, and it may even have been inspired by the likes of John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress.

Anyway, it’s a song that seems to have come up a lot for me lately. I keep coming across different versions of it, so I thought I’d do a post with some of them. The initial inspiration came from hearing the newest one – South East London newcomer Jamie Woon and his beautiful, haunting version (backed by an even more amazing remix from dubsteppers du jour Burial). This has only recently been released and you can buy it here – 12 inch and digital download.

Elsewhere we have straightforward but very fine renditions by Johnny Cash and Neko Case, a jazzy one from the late Eva Cassidy, a ‘desert jazz’ take from Giant Sand, wonderfully segued into Fly Me to the Moon, and Kristin Hersh’s more indie rock interpretation from her recent In Shock EP. The initially a capella Anita Kerr Quartet version may or may not have been tampered with by Lemon Jelly’s Fred Deakin since it’s off his new Triptych compilation. Finally there’s my current fave, Cliff Gober, off the fantastic Good God! A Gospel Funk Hymnal compilation (of which more next week) – a glorious Curtis Mayfield-esque interpretation which is the most upbeat one here, and probably furthest from the original.

Download: Eva Cassidy – Wayfaring Stranger
Download: Kristin Hersh – Poor Wayfaring Stranger
Download: Johnny Cash – Wayfaring Stranger
Download: Neko Case – Wayfaring Stranger (live)
Download: Jamie Woon – Wayfaring Stranger
Download: Giant Sand – Wayfaring Stranger / Fly Me to the Moon
Download: Anita Kerr Quartet – Wayfaring Stranger

3 Comments for “I’m just a poor wayfaring stranger”

  1. 1Matthew

    You know, I’ve done almost exactly the same thing. On Thursday or Friday there was an amazing gospel version on 6Music that some twit ruined my turning it into a mashup with some reggae rubbish, so I went out and downloaded about a dozen versions of the song hoping to find the original gospel version untainted, which I couldn’t.

    There’s also really good versions by Papa M, Blanche and version by Jack White from the Cold Mountain soundtrack. Papa M calls his version Over Jordan for some reason, which may be why it didn’t show up in your search.

  2. 2Anonymous

    Listen to 16Horsepowers version, one of the most, if not the most haunting versions of this song.

  3. 3Anonymous

    Don’t forget about Jack White’s solo version from the “Cold Mountain” soundtrack, its absolutely stunning!

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