Morning Music: Dan Tyminski

Man of Constant SorrowAt this point it seemed that anyone you think might have been tempted to cover “Man of Constant Sorrow” has. Of course, you knew that after Judy Collins did it everyone would have to. What I think is strange is that it really wasn’t picked up by punk bands. (But just wait until tomorrow before correcting me!) The truth is that musically, punk and folk aren’t that far apart.

Which brings us to the version in O Brother, Where Art Thou? It was recorded by Dan Tyminski, Harley Allen, and Pat Enright, with Tyminski on lead vocals. But here Tyminski is with Alison Krauss and Union Station doing the song live:

In a sense, I think this version kind of destroys the song in the same way that Jean-François Paillard’s version destroyed Pachelbel’s Canon. It is so powerful that everyone will agree that it is the way that the song ought to be performed and people will stop trying to innovate. Of course, there will always be the iconoclasts who insist that Emry Arthur or Sarah Ogan Gunning had it right all along and the song will be plopped on the end of a disc. But to really please an audience, it’s going to have to have that three-part harmony and the prominent banjo. It will be just like that damned pizzicato counterpoint in “Pachelbel’s Canon.”

2 thoughts on “Morning Music: Dan Tyminski

  1. Frank, you are giving us some terrific music. I like and agree with your comments but sometimes the music is so damn good you have to love it anyway. I had not listened to the Pachelbel in years. What a treat. As for Sorrow by Tyminski, I believe that the essence of the song is changed from what it is supposed to convey. But the musicianship is so damn good and the music is so damn exciting, I don’t care. It’s like a great jazz musician taking a wonderful standard and creating another great work out of it. I don’t get upset if Ella Fitzgerald or Mark Murphy take a great song and create a beautiful work out of it. Thanks for all the wonderful music you are providing. Music is so important as are all the arts. They make life worth living.

    • I agree — even about Pachelbel. But you really should listen to the piece the way it was performed 50 years ago. What you will hear is why it wasn’t that popular. It shows that performers really are important. And I think you will see that tomorrow with the last version of “Man of Constant Sorrow.” I just love it when people can take something and really make it their own. That’s true of Tyminski and that’s true of the guys tomorrow.

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