Music for Black Friday: I’ll Fly Away

Music for Black Friday: I’ll Fly Away November 28, 2014

The Coen brothers attracted some remarkable talent for the soundtrack for their movie O Brother, Where Art Thou?; and one of my favorite tracks is this one, performed by Alison Krauss & Gillian Welch. Typically for bluegrass, it’s about going to heaven.

The song has been recorded by virtually everyone; I first encountered it in bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley’s version:

One verse contains this lyric,

Just a few more weary days and then
I’ll fly away
To a land where joys will never end
I’ll fly away

It doesn’t matter who sings it, my ear persists that penultimate line as “to a land where George will never end.” Now, Ralph Stanley is half of the Stanley Brothers; but his brother died in 1966 and Ralph went on without him. And on the basis of my mishearing, I’d persuaded myself that Ralph had written the song as a tribute to his brother George.

Turns out that that Ralph’s brother was named Carter Stanley, and the song was written in 1929 by Albert Brumley. So much for that.

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