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I Am A Poor Wayfaring Stranger



 Genre: Gospel

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I'm literally planning on going to press with this album, "Kokopelli Rising", next week and this is the most involved selection on the disc. Before I lock it in, I'm interested to hear whatever feedback any one of you might have on mixing and E.Q., levels, overall emotional push, instrumentation, etc.

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!

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I’m only going over Jordan
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
Song Stats
Hits: 10914
Comments: 32
Fans: 20
Plays: 504
Downloads: 224
Votes: 10
Uploaded: Jul 18, 2008 - 02:09:31 PM
Last Updated: Jul 18, 2008 - 03:22:14 PM Last Played: Jul 01, 2019 - 11:13:23 PM
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Feter said 4108 days ago (July 18th, 2008)
I Am A Poor Wayfaring Stranger
This is what true art can be ...the passion in every
bit of a note to be heard ..its magic what everybody
playing here ..the singing just a killer ..definetly a
wonder ..the sphere of the strings ..the haunted
native flutes ..this act is superb ..I thank you heartedly

Check out my latest song called Roll with it
dreadmon said 4107 days ago (July 18th, 2008)
Many thanks bro
Thanks, Feter - you are such a light, old chap. As someone who appreciates traditional music as much as you, it's wonderful to have your stamp of approval on this tune. I'll have to admit, I thought of you a time or two while recording this. Thanks again, my friend.
Check out my latest song called Don't You
Feter said 4107 days ago (July 19th, 2008)
ok !
tell me whhat you thinbk about my take on this song :-)


I did it with davisamerica !!!
Check out my latest song called Roll with it
drakonis said 4108 days ago (July 18th, 2008)
Melungeons - the American Gypsies
First impression - Very crisp, beautifully played and sung piece of music. A couple of things bother me a little on this, mostly because your treatment of this piece is exquisite and feels like it needs a bit of tweaking to remove some minor annoyances... it really wants to soar, and it is close. So...

I LOVE the native American flute work on this, wonderful choice, and gorgeously scored and played. But when it first starts, it sounds almost distorted (clipped), which makes it sound more like a synth flute, not a real played one... perhaps pull it back a little, or add a teeny bit of reverb to it?

Your singing voice is very warm and clear... not sure I would suggest upping the ambient reverb on it.

The dulcimers are beautiful here, and coupled with the rolling rich cello/bass/strings add a lot of depth. I like your scoring of instruments. I might suggest doing a little more overlap here and there... there are spaces that you leave wide open, and the listener loses some continuity and the piece loses a little momentum. You continue to build the piece in each section, just as I was hoping you would, and that was very satisfying.

At 4:42, you have a shaker that comes in, and it feels far too repetitive and "up-front" to me... and there's also an occasional bass drum hit there that is way too far back, and has no "oomph". I would like to hear that drum grow then fade at the end of the piece.

I completely agree, the length of the piece is perfect. Really does breathe, and gives time for it all to sink in.

Check out my latest song called Miwok
dreadmon said 4107 days ago (July 18th, 2008)
Great stuff, Ed
Ah, thank you for the detailed analysis, Ed - this is what I was seeking. Thank you for what you enjoyed and what you've suggested, it means a lot.

I was wavering on the first flute solo - I battled with levels a bit across the board. Not so much with the middle section, which sat down nicely in the mix at the key change, and not at the end with the higher range flute, but the first one has some lower tones that, while not officially clipped on the meter, had some resonance issues. I think the key here may be to pull it back, as I've sort of found the 'verb saturation that makes it work without sounding too tunnelly.

It took a while to get the lead vocals right - it's actually a bit low for my range, but wanted to accommodate the flutes and the key change. The BGV's are pretty 'verb saturated, but I cut way back on the leads to make them more immediate.

I'll look at some passing lines in the string section - I agree with you that there are some pauses without continuity that need to be addressed.

Your comment about the shaker/bass drum is well received, regarding volume and the way in which it ends. I'll definitely revisit that.

As always, Ed - a very observant critique and worth its weight in gold. Thank you, my friend!
Check out my latest song called Don't You
dajama said 4108 days ago (July 18th, 2008)
A true epic
The length is good, I think; as you say, it describes a kind of arc, and it would be hard to say what could be cut without destroying that. Your voice on this is excellent, really rich and expressive. The instrumentation is really nice, and I think you've got the balance just right. I don't feel qualified to comment on the details of the sound, but nothing really stands out to me as problematic. A wonderful performance. Thanks for sharing this. Nicely done. Peace.
Check out my latest song called Across the Wire (MJRF)
dreadmon said 4107 days ago (July 19th, 2008)
Mahalo -
Thank you very kindly. As with any piece of music, there can be issues with the production that are completely not noticed due to how the track is perceived/received, so it's nice to know that this functions in a way that folks can enjoy. Very encouraging - even as I look to improve the production. It helps that I'm working with a very strong and powerful traditional piece - most of the heavy lifting is done already. Thanks for listening!
Check out my latest song called Don't You
caroline said 4108 days ago (July 18th, 2008)
WOW - i love this song - always have ...
now i love the flute, the arrangement, your voice and the mood of the whole piece and into my itunes it goes where it will be much listened too - ty so much for making it a d/l - big loves xoxoxoxo
Check out my latest song called i'm a reunion maid MJRF 2010
dreadmon said 4107 days ago (July 19th, 2008)
Caroline, dearie, thanks so much! I can't tell you exactly how much of an honor it is that you would want to d/l and add this to your collection. It's very humbling and a complete joy. Thank you!
Check out my latest song called Don't You
said 4107 days ago (July 18th, 2008)
I Am A Poor Wayfaring Stranger
This is superb
However, I am not an expert but to my two ears it sounds perfect.
Love that Flute. Its spot on because I like to play the flute on the software
instruments. That much I can say.Music Lyrics and vocas are fantastic.
Thanks for sharing your ' Gorgous' Music.

Peace Dee.

dreadmon said 4107 days ago (July 19th, 2008)
Mahalo nui loa -
Thank you, Dee - I'm so very glad that you enjoy this! Aloha -
Check out my latest song called Don't You
jiguma said 4107 days ago (July 18th, 2008)
Song Writing/Content: Can't really comment on songwriting for obvious reason that it's a trad tune. Content - not sure what that means, but I think (for what it's worth) that the embellishments and arrangement you've made sound fantastic.

Production/Performance: The performance is top class - but I agree with Eduard about the flute. I love the sound it makes, but at the start in particular it seems to clip, rendering it almost painful on the ears. The flute could certainly take a little reduction in volume throughout. Other instrumentation, vocals, harmonies are outstanding as I've come to anticipate from your posts.

Originality/Creativity: The way you've added your own touch to this through instrumentation and arrangement is impressive. It's not one of my favourite tunes, but I really enjoyed your interpretation.

Overall rating in genre: It's very good, although different to my concept of "gospel" (that's not a problem of course).

Bing, you add a touch of class to everything you touch.
Check out my latest song called Le Chemin De La Vie
dreadmon said 4107 days ago (July 19th, 2008)
Neil, your comments are also very well-taken; thank you for the input, man!

I need to dial in that flute at the beginning - perhaps it's a bit mid-rangey? Might be my monitors, which are consumer-class, and not as precise as I'd like them to be. The first of the three flute solos is definitely hotter than the rest. If you're saying that the second and third flutes are not really grating, that would be a cue for me to assume that levels and E.Q. are good.

On the interpretation - this tune's been done to death, and I wondered "what can I bring to it?" So, I went in reverse and forward in a way. In reverse, I tried to take it back to its roots, and forward, I got this John Barry-esque arrangement in my head with the half-step James Bond kind of riff and rolling french horn gardens towards the end. It's almost big in a Vegas way, "Wayfaring Stranger" by way of Vangelis or something, but the escalation was borne of the emotion, which I just had to follow.

Gospel might have been a misstep as far as genre - but I thought the subject matter might've spoken louder than the musical style.

Two votes for softening that flute at the beginning - invaluable input as I go to press. Thanks a whole bunch, Neil - I really appreciate it, bro!
Check out my latest song called Don't You
Pete_NB said 4107 days ago (July 19th, 2008)
I'm betting...
...that whoever wrote this song so many generations ago would be floored and approving of what you've done here.

You've always been one to listen to around here but you've evolved strongly since your last MJ stint.

My skills at production and such aren't in your league so there is nothing I see to critique, and musically speaking, you frickin' nailed it.

And I gotta get me one of them whistles!

Check out my latest song called One more One Shot
Alannah said 4107 days ago (July 19th, 2008)
Hints of .....
... "Summertime" - Billy Holliday) in the intro .... almost wanted to croon along .... then when you started to sing I recognized the Wayfaring Stranger .. (of course) ..... my most recent experience of this tune is the Eva Cassidy Version .... LUV your version ... gave it a deeper treatment ... and depth .... very nice Bing! The Harmonies are truly GLORIOUS !!!! and the instruments ... OH The instruments ..... WOW ! You have truly taken a "folk" tune and risen it to "epic" proportions here ! I felt the full scope of emotion with each note ....
Check out my latest song called Sleep (w JScott and Alannah)
John Stebbe said 4107 days ago (July 19th, 2008)
Bing, this is an excellent track. I especially like the vocal harmony you get when the lyric says "I'm going there." I love the string parts on "Over Jordan." A bit reminiscent of the James Bond theme, in a good, Appalachian way.

Reminds me a bit of "My Little Town" by Simon and Garfunkel.

I recognized the Native American flute, even before I read your description. I teach elementary music, and there is a track I use with my textbooks which feature a solo Native American flute, and that sound, where it is trying to hop to the next harmonic, is what gives it away. What a great sound.

Love the key change at the end.

A pleasure, Bing!
Check out my latest song called Midwest States Song
Lightman- said 4107 days ago (July 19th, 2008)
Such a peaceful song.... I love the lyrics... And the sound is wide and deep.... Brings peace while listening..... Thanks for sharing this song....
Check out my latest song called You Are
Roxylee said 4107 days ago (July 19th, 2008)
Glad I heard this
I downloaded it to enjoy in my iTunes rotation. Your vocal and instrumental interpretation of this is great! A keeper for sure. I love the NA flute solo. Wow all around.
Check out my latest song called Emma, by davisamerica
Dragonas said 4107 days ago (July 19th, 2008)
A true epic folk song!
I am so pleased that you included the musical roots in your description.
It really adds a lot of history and emotional value to the song.
Really like the flute playing, but if I was gonna really nit-pick, it may have gotten a little busy in a few passages.
I like when the flute would hold a note for a while and let it sing. (sounding more vocal)
Overall great and definitely right up my alley.
Look forward to more!
Check out my latest song called Dragonian - Part I (1 of 6)
Dragonas said 4107 days ago (July 19th, 2008)
downloaded and Fav'd.
Check out my latest song called Dragonian - Part I (1 of 6)
VicDiesel said 4106 days ago (July 20th, 2008)
Professional quality in all respects, playing, arrangement, and production. In particular great job on the native flutes. Good luck with the CD.
Check out my latest song called Frippery
J.A.Stewart said 4106 days ago (July 20th, 2008)
Up Front...
is where I hear problems, Bing. Ditto for me what Eduard and Neil observed, but also the lead dulcimer(?) in the beginning parts of the song seems to cut through the mix too much, burying the vocal's prominence at times. A little EQ and volume softening, or perhaps a little more spacing should take care of that.

I like what you've done with this old jewel. You've given it a soulful luster. ;)

--- Joe
Check out my latest song called Crankenhurst Challenge - Verse 1-7 (Inst. Break)
said 4105 days ago (July 20th, 2008)
Roxylee and I did a cover of this tune a couple years ago, as did Jack Miller and a few other MJers.

I have to say though, that this is my fave of the lot! Nice work Bing!

Be well friend!

Hmmmnnn....I may have to re-mix and re-post my old version now...
MissChaos said 4105 days ago (July 21st, 2008)
Powerful and gorgeous. I was totally lost in this.

One little thing. At 1:53, a voice comes in on the left channel and it's seems to clip enough to be harsh on that side.

On the shaker... it's a bit mid-heavy. Maybe reducing those frequencies would help it push back into the mix. just a thought.

Best of luck with your CD. Let me know when it's available and where to buy it!
Check out my latest song called Sleep Through
MissChaos said 4105 days ago (July 21st, 2008)
Sorry! That clipped part on the left channel is at 7:10. Disregard the time in my last comment.

Check out my latest song called Sleep Through
kassia said 4104 days ago (July 22nd, 2008)
wow Bing. This is gorgeous. You did a fabulous of melding sounds and styles. I LOVE the key change. It really helps the piece move forward. This is definitely the perfect length. You did an awesome job of building a beautiful, underlying soundbed to support your warm vocals and the dulcimer and flute solos. Dude, this is just breathtaking. My only suggestion (agreeing with what others have said) is the shaker is a little too up front and gets a bit repetitive. Overall, this is definitely a piece to be proud of. beautiful.
Check out my latest song called Greensleeves
said 4103 days ago (July 22nd, 2008)
Heart and soul...
throughout. Atmosphere of the grace of God in your vocals. Bing, this is, in every respect, a worthy version of this old spiritual. Kudos.

dreadmon said 4101 days ago (July 25th, 2008)
Thanks from California
Hey all - I will get back to each of you, thanks so much for the input and the kind words. I quickly made some mixing adjustments and got the first pressing of the album out, just in time to fly west to California, where I've been reliving old memories and making new ones. I will probably engage in yet another remix for the next pressing, but your input has been just fantastic, so thank you so much! Will check back in after the festival here. Aloha!
Check out my latest song called Don't You
spitlogic said 4099 days ago (July 26th, 2008)
Great mix of your dulcimer and the other strings. Very strong subject and the calmness of your voice carries on the story well. Love it.
Check out my latest song called Represent
said 4092 days ago (August 3rd, 2008)
I Am A Poor Wayfaring Stranger by dreadmon
A TRUE WORK OF ART! Very passionate, very spiritually evoking! Beautiful, in tune voice, and excellent lyrics! Among the best! THANK YOU!
craighalkett said 3130 days ago (March 23rd, 2011)
Thank You
Thank you for posting this song I found it absolutely brilliant
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TomFairnie said 2882 days ago (November 26th, 2011)
Absolutely spellbinding. I really love this song. For me the mix sounds a tiny bit muddy; perhaps due to the overlays but it in no way detracts from what is a wonderful track. I can see by the comments that you posted this one some time back so I appreciate these comments aren't much use but, nevertheless, this is a genuinely classic sound. I really did love it. It reminded me of an old Robbie Basho album called Basho Sings because it gave me the same mood. Envy doesn't come close.
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Name: Bing Futch
Location: Orlando Florida United States
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Che hun ta mo!Thanks for visiting my page here on MacJams. I'm a full-time musician that specializes in the Appalachian mountain dulcimer. Besides giving private lessons and teaching workshops at festivals around the country on this unique America... [see more]

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