Man of Constant Sorrow

This is an online fiddle lesson for the tune "Man of Constant Sorrow." is your best source for Bluegrass, Old Time, Celtic, Gospel, and Country fiddle lessons!

Genre: Bluegrass
Skill Level: Beginner, Intermediate
Key of G

You may download and use any of the MP3s and tablature for your personal use. However, please do not make them available online or otherwise distribute them.

NOTE: If multiple fiddle lessons and MP3s are loading at once, this page will get slow! I recommend that you refresh the page each time you open a new video or MP3.

Video #1: This video shows what you can do with long hair, a fiddle, and backing tracks:

Man of Constant Sorrow - Online Fiddle Lessons. Celtic, Bluegrass, Old-Time, Gospel, and Country Fiddle.

Man of Constant Sorrow - Online Fiddle Lessons. Celtic, Bluegrass, Old-Time, Gospel, and Country Fiddle.

Man of Constant Sorrow - Online Fiddle Lessons. Celtic, Bluegrass, Old-Time, Gospel, and Country Fiddle.

Man of Constant Sorrow - Online Fiddle Lessons. Celtic, Bluegrass, Old-Time, Gospel, and Country Fiddle.

"Man of Constant Sorrow" (also known as "I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow") is a traditional American folk song first recorded by Dick Burnett, a partially blind fiddler from Kentucky. The song was originally recorded by Burnett as "Farewell Song" printed in a Richard Burnett songbook, about 1913. During 1918, Cecil Sharp collected the song and published it as "In Old Virginny" (Sharp II, 233). An early version was recorded by Emry Arthur in 1928 (Vocalion Vo 5208). Public interest in the song was renewed after the release of the 2000 film O Brother, Where Art Thou?, as it plays a central role in the film's plot. The song was also included in the film's highly successful, multiple-platinum-selling soundtrack.

Some uncertainty exists as to whether Dick Burnett himself wrote the song. One claim is that it was sung by the Mackin clan in 1888 in Ireland and that Cameron O'Mackin emigrated to Tennessee, brought the song with him, and performed it.

On October 13, 2009, on the Diane Rehm Show, Ralph Stanley of the Stanley Brothers, born in 1927, discussed the song, its origin, and his effort to revive it:

"Man of Constant Sorrow" is probably two or three hundred years old. But the first time I heard it when I was y'know, like a small boy, my daddy – my father – he had some of the words to it, and I heard him sing it, and we – my brother and me – we put a few more words to it, and brought it back in existence. I guess if it hadn't been for that it'd have been gone forever. I'm proud to be the one that brought that song back, because I think it's wonderful."

Stanley's autobiography is titled Man of Constant Sorrow. (wikipedia)

Man of Constant Sorrows

In constant sorrow all through his days

I am a man of constant sorrow
I've seen trouble all my days
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 true 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 never will 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

Online Fiddle Lessons Forums Man of Constant Sorrow

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  • #6316
    Russell Hardie

    Love it. Great song and love the twist you added. Great work guys!


    Love the tune, and your video of it was way cool…I am having a problem with the links for the notation and tabs…all 4(beginner and intermediate) all kick me over to the subscribe page. None of the other lessons do this(as of yet). I am not sure where to post this first off, so I am hoping I have the closest to right of the spots 🙂

    I have to say, I am really enjoying your site, and thanks!

    John (BGD)

    Hi! Thank you for signing up for the the free membership. I am glad you enjoy the site! I am in the process of fleshing out the free side of things, but one of the benefits of paid membership is unlimited access to all of the tabs and MP3s. 🙂 John


    No, not free Membership 🙂 I went full on for the year on the 7th.

    John (BGD)

    OH OK! I’m sorry about that. I had some migration issues between the 5th and the 10th, and some of the new member info was lost. I am manually updating your user profile, and giving you extra time on the end of your year. Thank you for your patience! John


    .Cool, thanks for fixing that 🙂


    Why are these lessons not available to me?  I keep getting, “Because of privacy settings this video cannof be played here.”

    I do have a membership. Is it because I am attempting to access it via an iPad?


    I’m using an iPad and can access it so I don’t think it’s that. Have you been able to access it before or did it just start? I’ve noticed the “link” function isn’t working when posting in the forums today so maybe there’s some kind of glitch going on. I’m sure John will chime in soon and straighten it out.


    After further investigation the problem very well may be on your end depending on how John has configured the privacy settings in Vimeo. What version of iOS are you running? If you haven’t updated recently try doing that and see if it fixes the problem. The latest version is 9.3.1

    John (BGD)

    Thanks for helping with this, Mike.

    Fiddlemouse, I don’t know what could cause this issue. Are you clicking the play button within the page, or are you somehow trying to watch the videos at the host site ( If you try to access the videos directly, you will get that error message.

    Did this problem get resolved? I sent you a private email about this as well. Thanks! John



    John this seems to be a known issue with iOS 9.3 but it’s strange that I never had a problem with it while running 9.3 so I don’t know if that’s what is causing fiddlemouse’s issue or not. Scroll down and read the recent comments from the past few weeks on this Vimeo forum link

    Also see the moderators response to the problem here





    And while we’re at it do you have any idea why I can no longer associate a link to a specific word in the text of my post? Used to when I would click on the “link” tab a box would appear that had entry spaces for the link itself and also for the word in the text that you wanted to embed the link in. But now I get a different box that only allows the link to be inserted with no option for an associated word. Not a big deal on short links but some of these things can be 4 miles long and just plain ugly. Here’s a pic of what I’m getting now.

    Edit: Just saw your response in a post from another topic. They just couldn’t leave well enough alone could they. It seems like updates cause more problems than they fix.


    John (BGD)

    Mike, thanks for the info on the iPad problem.

    Fiddlemouse, I’m afraid this is an iOS 9.3.1 problem. This won’t be fixed until Apple releases iOS 9.3.2.

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