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According to Steve Rouse, "Wayfaring Stranger was born in the southern Appalachian Mountains about the time of the American Revolution, according to widely held beliefs about the origins of this popular, early American song. At that time, the immigrants of the region were mostly English, Scottish, Irish, and Welsh, but there was also a mysterious group known as Melungeons. Sometimes called the Black Dutch, the Melungeons are often said to be of Portuguese descent, though their precise lineage is still a mystery, varies much, and is a complex mixture thought to include Native American, African (including Bantu), and some Mediterranean, with Turkish as a favorite. In recent years much research has begun to yield more clues to the Melungeons' origins and history. They appear to have been semi-nomadic, generally moving inward from the Atlantic coast in search of more favorable social conditions. Probably because of this, Wayfaring Stranger has become associated with Melungeon history.
A website on Negro spirituals lists the tune with the full title "I Am A Poor Wayfaring Stranger", so I went with that in order to get closer to the roots of the tune, also using the three verses attributed to versions sung by slaves. The Native American connection to the tune is very strong and it's a very popular melody on the Native American Flute. Again, I wanted to blend histories (though research is showing history to be pre-blended) and take the First Nations culture, slave culture and Appalachian mountain culture and swirl them together through use of voice, percussion, Native American flute and Appalachian mountain dulcimer. Instead of trying to shoehorn the song experience into an easily digestible listening time, I let the song dictate how long it was to be, in order to let it breathe, so be aware that it times out at 9 minutes and I have no desire to edit it so that it becomes shorter. To me, it sounds complete and full, with the trajectory of spirit and emotions making a full circle. Recording this song was very intense for me, as I lost both my mother and father within two years of each other some time ago and I do look forward to seeing them again.
Funnily enough, there seems to even be some latin influence in the baritone dulcimer solo - I don't know, what do you think? In any case - I'd love to hear your comments on this one - thanks, as always!
I’m only going over home
I am a poor wayfaring stranger
While traveling through this world of woe
Yet there’s no sickness, toil nor danger
In that bright world to which I go
I’m going there to see my Father
I’m going there no more to roam
I know dark clouds will gather ‘round me
I know my way is rough and steep
But golden fields lie out before me
Where God’s redeemed shall ever sleep
I’m going there to see my mother
She said she’d meet me when I come
I’ll soon be free from every trial
My body sleep in the churchyard
I’ll drop the cross of self denial
And enter on my great reward
I’m going there to see my Savior
To sing His praise forevermore