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  3. Man of Constant Sorrow

Man of Constant Sorrow banjo tabs

  • Tablatures

    Scruggs Style

    The Stanley Brothers

    A simple, yet bluesy version of Man of Constant Sorrow that teaches using leaving out the "3rd" of the G and A chords.

  • Bluesy Style

    The Stanley Brothers

    A Ron Block-style take on this classic traditional tune Man of Constant Sorrow. Ron uses a lot of bluesy slides and pull-offs on the 2nd string.

  • Backup

    The Stanley Brothers

    A rolling and bluesy backup version of Man of Constant Sorrow to demonstrate filling in-between vocal lines.

  • Licks

    Bluesy Backup #1

    Fill Lick

    This lick is great over a D7 chord to lead you to the IV chord, or G chord.

  • Bluesy Backup #2

    Fill Lick

    Another cool bluesy backup lick that is a little bit syncopated!

  • V Chord Lick #1

    Fill Lick

    This is a V chord lick that will lead you back to the I, or D chord in the song.

  • Ron Block #3

    Fill Lick

    This lick is inspired by Ron Block's banjo playing and is great for getting that bluesy sound in the key of D.

  • Bluesy Melodic #2

    Fill Lick

    This lick can be used as a backup fill or melody fill. It's a melodic phrase that can be a bit technically tricky.

  • Chromatic #1

    Fill Lick

    This lick works well over the V chord in the key of D and features a cool descending chromatic line on the 3rd string.

  • Ron Block #2

    fill Lick

    Another fantastic Ron Block inspired bluesy lick.


More about Man of Constant Sorrow

The song was popularized by The Stanley Brothers, who recorded the song in the 1950s. Since that time, many variations were released in the 1960s, most noticeably by Bob Dylan. The song was first published in Dick Burnett's six-song songbook called Songs Sung by R in 1913 as "Farewell Song." Burnett may have adapted a pre-existing song to suit his blindness, and some suggested that Burnett wrote the song in 1907, deriving from "The White Rose" and "Down in the Tennessee Valley." Burnett's and Arthur's lyrics are very close with minor variations, and since Arthur's album was the first edition of the song released (the recording of Burnett was never published). Arthur's version's melody and lyrics became the basis from which later versions are eventually extracted. In 1917-1918, English folk song collector Cecil Sharp collected four versions of the song as "In Old Virginny," and it was published by the Southern Appalachians in 1932 in English Folk Songs. Virginia's Norman Lee Vass believed that the origin of the song could be traced back to the 1890s. Also, he believes it was his brother Mat who first wrote the song in the 1890s, and the song's Virginia versions indicate a connection to Vass's edition. However, his melody and most of his verses were different.

Learn 3 different versions of Man of Constant Sorrow, which are all shown on this page. We recommend that you get started with the Scruggs style version, where you’ll learn basic roll pattern and left-hand articulations like slides, hammer-ons, and pull-offs. Next, move on to the Bluesy arrangement of Man of Constant Sorrow. Lastly, you can check out the Backup arrangement, which shows you how to play behind others while they are soloing.

Use the Tunefox Lick Switcher to explore improvisation and creativity inside the Man of Constant Sorrow tablatures. The Lick Switcher will allow you to create your own arrangement using pre-built licks that are handmade by professional musicians. To use the Lick Switcher, click on the text above specific measures that says "Original Measure" and select between a variety of new licks for that measure. You'll find that there are different style licks such as Scruggs, Melodic, Jazz, and more. At the bottom of your page you'll also find a button that says "Shuffle Licks." Click this button and watch the licks randomly shuffle throughout the song.

Be sure to check out all of the great learning tools that Tunefox has to offer such as "Hide Notes", "Memory Train", and "Speed Up". These tools can be found in the "Tools" menu at the bottom right of your screen. Want to learn some of Man of Constant Sorrow by ear? Use "Hide Notes" to hide some or all of the notes in the tablature. Once you’re finished learning with the tab use the "Memory Train" tool to commit the song to memory. Then practice with "Speed Up" to improve your technique and speed in no time.

Each arrangement of Man of Constant Sorrow for banjo features real-sounding backing tracks. Use these backing tracks to polish up the solo you’re working on. You can mix the banjo, band, and metronome up or down so that you have several options for your practice.

Members can export their arrangements into PDF, allowing them to print and bring them to their next jam session.

Man of Constant Sorrow lyrics

I am a man of constant sorrow
I've seen trouble all my days
I bid farewell to old Kentucky
The state where I was borned and raised

For six long years I've been in trouble
No pleasure here on earth I find
For in this world I'm bound to ramble
I have no friends to help me now

It's fare thee well my own 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

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

It's fare you well to a native country
The places I have loved so well
For I have seen all kinds of trouble
In this cruel world, no tongue can tell

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