A Man Of Constant Sorrow

Blog 1155 – 10.25.2018

A Man Of Constant Sorrow

That great philosopher and theologian, Linus from Charlie Brown’s Peanuts, once quoted the Old Testament in the cartoon strip, “Man is destined for trouble as the sparks fly upwards.” The picture is of someone sitting at a campfire, throwing another log on the fire and watching the heat of the flames carrying the sparks upward. And, yes, there is certainly trouble that comes to all of us but I have found singing about it helps. I grew up in the nineteen fifties southern United States, not quite a hundred years after a terrible Civil War tore this nation apart. The scars of that war ran deep, and sadly still do for many. But I remember hearing even as a boy a song that said, “But the south land gave birth to the blues.” When we sing about our troubles we find the burden grows a bit lighter, even as smart psychologists know that just talking about our problems and getting them outside our head helps air them out and make them easier to understand and thereby to solve, shed, or learn to live with.

That I think is the appeal of this song, “I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow” by the Foggy Bottom Boys and featured in the Great Depression movie “Oh, Brother, Where Art Thou” by the Cohen Brothers and staring George Clooney. Shirley Temple sang lighter, uplifting, mostly optimistic, happy songs to the Depression ravished public in the nineteen thirties who hoped for better times. But many more people sang “the blues” to weather the storm.

In the funny nineteen eighties’ comedy “Adventures In Baby Sitting” the baby sitter gets caught in a blues club in the big city trying to escape with her charges from some bad guys. She, with gang in tow, inadvertently runs on to the stage during a blues performance looking for a way out, seeing the exit she tries for it but is stopped by the performer at the mic who tells her, “You are not getting out of here without singing the blues.” And so the babysitter ad libs “The Baby Sitter Blues” with the band backing her up. Such is the nature of life that everyone has something to sing the blues about and none of us is getting out of it without singing the blues and perhaps more often than we might like.

Here is my Mockingbird Version of this great country Depression blues song:


I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow

Your friend and fellow traveler,

David White

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