First recorded by Dick Burnett (as “Farewell Song” c. 1913), Emry Arthur (1928).
Hit versions by The Stanley Brothers (1951 | 1959), Ginger Baker’s Air Force (C&W #36/UK #86 1970), Soggy Bottom Boys (C&W #35 2000).
Also recorded by Judy Collins (as “Maid of Constant Sorrow”) (1961), Bob Dylan (1962), Jerry Garcia (1993).
From the wiki: “‘Man of Constant Sorrow’ (also known as ‘I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow’) is a traditional American folk song first recorded in 1913 by Dick Burnett, a partially blind fiddler from Kentucky, who published the song as ‘Farewell Song’. (Some uncertainty exists as to whether Burnett himself wrote the song. One claim is that it was sung by the Mackin clan in 1888 in Ireland and that Cameron O’Mackin emigrated to Tennessee, bringing the song with him.) Another early version was commercially released by Emry Arthur in 1928.
“The song was popularized by The Stanley Brothers in 1951. They rerecorded ‘Man of Constant Sorrow’ in 1959, probably the first to use the vocal arrangement similar to the one used in the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou? performed by the fictitious group Soggy Bottom Boys (recorded by Dan Tyminski, Harley Allen, and Pat Enright). The Soggy Bottom Boys’ soundtrack recording in 2000 received a CMA for ‘Single of the Year’ and also won a Grammy award for Best Country Collaboration (with Vocals).
“Judy Collins’s 1961 debut album, A Maid of Constant Sorrow, took its name from a variant of the song that was performed on the album. It appears on Bob Dylan’s 1962 eponymous debut album, and Dylan performed the song during his first national television appearance in 1963. ‘Man of Constant Sorrow’ was also recorded by Ginger Baker’s Air Force on their eponymous debut album in 1970. It was one of many songs recorded by Jerry Garcia, David Grisman, and Tony Rice one weekend in February 1993. Jerry’s taped copy of the session was later stolen by his pizza delivery man, eventually became an underground classic, and finally edited and released in 2000 as The Pizza Tapes.”
The Stanley Brothers, “Man of Constant Sorrow” (1951):
The Stanley Brothers, “Man of Constant Sorrow” (1959):
Judy Collins, “Maid of Constant Sorrow” (1961):
Bob Dylan, “Man of Constant Sorrow” national TV debut performance (1962):
Ginger Baker’s Air Force, “Man of Constant Sorrow” (1970):
Jerry Garcia, “Man of Constant Sorrow” (1993 released 2000):
Soggy Bottom Boys, “Man of Constant Sorrow” official video (2000):