I am a man of constant sorrow
I've seen trouble all my day
I bid farewell to old Kentucky
The place where I was born and raised
(The place where he was born and raised)

For six long years I've been in trouble
No pleasures here on earth I found
For in this world I'm bound to ramble
I have no friends to help me now
(He has no friends to help him now)

It's fare thee well my old lover
I never expect to see you again
For I'm bound to ride that northern railroad
Perhaps I'll die upon this train
(Perhaps he'll die upon this train)

You can bury me in some deep valley
For many years where I may lay
Then you may learn to love another
While I am sleeping in my grave
(While he is sleeping in his grave)

Maybe your friends think I'm just a stranger
My face, you'll never see no more
But there is one promise that is given
I'll meet you on God's golden shore
(He'll meet you on God's golden shore)

Lyrics submitted by jared_niceguy

I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow Lyrics as written by John Allen Traditional

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Capitol CMG Publishing, Downtown Music Publishing

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I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow song meanings
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  • +3
    General Comment
    Country and bluegrass needs to play more kool toons like this one. This song makes me wanna put on a pair of overalls and marry my cousin Yeeeehaaah
    Billy Bedlamon December 28, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General Comment
    There are two versions of this song...both are sung by Dan Tyminski, who I believe plays with the bluegrass group Union Station. The one where Clooney flawlessly lip-synchs is the one that sticks only with a single acoustic guitar, which is played by Chris Thomas King. From there, we have the radio edit, which is the one everybody remembers. I prefer the stripped-down version because it's better overall, no violins, no mandolins, just one guitar and a few voices. Tyminski is a great vocalist and picker while Clooney is a great actor and lip-syncher. Classic tune in my mind.
    OpinionHeadon July 01, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Comment
    I absolutley LOVE this song! The movie, also, is SPECTACULAR! "Well, ain't this place a geographical oddity. Two weeks from everywhere!" Too many great lines to chose from and this song fits the tone of the movie so well. I truly belive that this movie is one of those that you most assuredly have to see at least twice. When I first saw it, thought it was the dumbest movie i'd ever seen - Saw it again and 'got it' the second time around. Look up the live version of this song with AKUS (Alison Krauss & Union Station) - to DIE for! So rich and captivating!
    bottleofrainon January 09, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Comment
    I LOVE THIS SONG! it's about Odysseus. but yes, this song is the greatest.
    heartinaheadlockon May 17, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Comment
    this song is superb. love it so much! the movie is a masterpiece. i also like the credit song "In the Big Rock Candy Mountains"!! "Ain't this a geographical oddity! Two weeks from everywhere!!!"
    ColdenScenceon April 24, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Comment
    One of my favorite quotes (don't know if it's true or not) about Dan Tyminski's performance is from his wife who is reported to have said, "It's a dream come true - Dan's voice and George Clooney's body." The song (and songs) seems so spot on for the movie. Epic in it's own nature Man of Constant Sorrow is a man who can't escape his past and sees his peace coming when he is finally dead and buried deep in a sunny valley. It was such a great idea to not only involve so many talented musicians but to give many of them cameo's through-out the movie. Many feel the response to this movie launched a Blue Grass revival of sorts. I was lucky enough to catch one of the concerts centered around the musicians and music from the movie at The Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. A breath taking experience indeed!
    Splerbon July 26, 2011   Link
  • +1
    My Interpretation
    i don't know if i'm allowed to do this....but here's a short paper i wrote on this song and its relation to Homer's Odyssey. maybe you'll find this interesting! Ulysses Everett McGill is not the most sentimental of heroes. He may not even be a hero. In fact, the lead character of the Coen brothers’ “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” takes pride is his ability to construct walls between the common man and himself; to distance himself from the pitfalls of irrational emotion. Using his exceedingly cunning intellect and gift of grandiloquent gab, Everett hides his true character beneath a façade. From the glass booth of the recording studio to his insistence on the luxury of his pomade, from a false beard or skin color to his dizzying logic, Everett strives continually to draw a line between himself and the common fool. The paradox, of course, is that this deep-South Odysseus is not that far from a fool himself. With every convoluted, circuitous, and at times all-together baffling discourse, Everett blurs the very lines he strives to define. And yet, the man can sing. In Homer’s epic poem it is the gods that aid Odysseus in defining his travels and character; in the Coen brothers’ adaptation of The Odyssey, it is Everett’s recurring song that achieves this function. “I am a Man of Constant Sorrow,” appears for the first time halfway through the movie–in medias res, as it were–to be sung by Everett and his crew of fellow escapees, the Soggy Bottom Boys. The song serves the function of the prologue of this epic, rattling off the key themes common to both versions of the story, effectively linking Everett’s tale with Odysseus’. The name of the band is itself a nod to Odysseus’ shipmates, and their song hits all the buzzwords: the speaker misses home and is striving ardently to get back; he has been held up and “in trouble” for “six long years” (7); he must struggle against death and other obstacles to reach his goal; the home he knows may not remember him as anything but “a stranger” (22). The song in the modern adaptation not only forges the two narratives–loosely linked in terms of the progression of the plot and specific details–together through the emphasis of these common themes, but more importantly enables further exploration of Homer’s original motifs through the Everett character. Consistent ambiguities and contradictions mark the song’s depiction of the speaker’s travels. He bemoans his past six years of hardship, for he has had “no pleasures here on earth” (8). His words elicit sympathy for a man who has experienced no enjoyment for “six long years,” and yet could be perceived, upon closer inspection, to mean he has experienced no earthly pleasures–that is, he has enjoyed unearthly, god-related ones in the hands of an immortal Circe figure. “I have no friends to help me now” (10), he goes on to lament, just as his friends–as the “Chorus”–step in to sing a harmonizing line. The “fare-thee-well” to his “old true lover” (12) is similarly ambiguous: does the speaker address the woman he returns to, or the woman he leaves? He goes on to express the possibility of perishing on his fated journey, to which he is “bound” (14), though “perhaps he’ll die” (16). In the very next verse, however, he dismisses the permanence of death, writing it off as merely “sleeping in his grave” (21). Additionally, for all that the song entreats its listeners to empathize with the speaker, every time the Soggy Bottom Boys sing this song they are in disguise, first fooling the blind man to their race and number, and later appearing with false beards. This song enables the three convicts to hide in plain sight: their song, like that of the three Sirens, captivates the audience and forces it to overlook their flaws. These consistent paradoxes recall the conscious double-facedness of Homer’s Odysseus and emphasize Everett’s failure to achieve the same success in his own disguises. The song must achieve the double-speaking for which Odysseus is so well known, for Everett just speaks in circles. That Everett has not fully mastered his “gift of gab” is most clear in the success of the song itself: the Soggy Bottom Boys have no idea of the Siren-song effect of their words. The song achieves success by itself, standing upon its story alone–the background of the bard is irrelevant, so long as he adequately communicates the speaker’s tale. On the one hand this lends a comic element to the Coen brothers’ Odysseus character, but on the other it permits a more sympathetic reading of the man. The directors do not grant him super-human cunning, but in making him more overtly fallible, render a hero who challenges the self-serving nature of Odysseus’ conceits. Everett’s initial efforts at outsmarting his opponents often fail–Big Dan the Cyclops, Vernon Waldrip the suitor–but the song cleans up behind him. The final words of the last verse emphasize the edgy double tone of the “Man of Constant Sorrow”: “but there is one promise that is given,” he vows, “I’ll meet you on God’s golden shore” (24-25). On the one hand, this is an endearing final note: he will search for his home and his faithful “old true lover” (12) until he dies, and even then he will search for her. This could also be construed in a menacing sense: the speaker threatens the suitors who hound his love, the others whom she “may learn to love… / While he is sleeping in his grave” (19, 21), vowing that he will not rest until he meets them in death, whether by sending them himself (as Odysseus does at the end of Homer’s tale) or in spite of being killed by some obstacle on his journey. The seriousness of this “promise” is at odd’s with Everett’s behavior, particularly during the song’s second performance: Everett comes out of his disguise, tugging his beard at the word “stranger,” and sings the song to Penny as his true self, having revealed himself before her. The song has done the work of “the promise,” and the second performance simply marks the moment when Everett stumbles upon its success and bemusedly steps in to take his place as the speaker. It is the song that makes Everett a hero, and a sentimental one at that.
    bizilizi75on March 10, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General Comment
    Have you seen the movie? Absolutely hysterical. I like this song-- It's catchy.
    anna118kon March 09, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Comment
    this is my favorite movie. a good take on Homer's Odessey. this song is very good to sing to. very lyrically sound for the era. at the end when they sing this it is a riot. when they sing it at the studio, watch Ulysses' eyes. Its hilarious.
    hurleychick42069on May 23, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Comment
    The movie is one of my favorite movies and my favorite Coen Brother's movie. George Clooney does a great job lipsyncing at times you alomost think its him. Everbody should go pick up the soundtrack and companion Cd.
    TheIcemanon June 13, 2002   Link

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