I’ll Fly Away

Tonight I am learning how to play I’ll Fly Away on my banjo. I’m a clawhammer rookie and this tune is great for a beginner.

What a beautiful song. So simple, and yet it is one of the most loved gospel tunes. It was written in the 1930s by a cotton-picker-turned-accomplished-composer in Oklahoma named Albert Edward Brumley. I aways associated it with being a joyful song to sing at a funeral, or a song that Grandparents would sing to you at bedtime…but I just read that he wrote it while he was breaking his back picking the cotton…dreaming of flying away. So, perhaps not entirely about death, but that’s what the song ended up speaking to us.

I sent this tune to a friend in Japan and – imagine my surprise WHEN – he told me that his mother heard him playing it and said she recognised it! She doesn’t have a word of English and hasn’t ever left Japan. Albert Edward would be chuffed!

There are thousands of versions but this is one of my favourites as it is so stripped down, and yet still makes you feel so peaceful. Mississippi John Hurt doesn’t seem to know all of the words, but it doesn’t even matter.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LbZgm9Igd1U

The lyrics:

Some bright morning when this life is over
I’ll fly away
To that home on God’s celestial shore
I’ll fly away

I’ll fly away, oh glory
I’ll fly away in the morning
When I die hallelujah by and by
I’ll fly away

When the shadows of this life have gone
I’ll fly away
Like a bird from these prison walls I’ll fly
I’ll fly away

I’ll fly away, oh glory
I’ll fly away in the morning
When I die hallelujah by and by
I’ll fly away

Oh how glad and happy when we meet
I’ll fly away
No more cold iron shackles on my feet
I’ll fly away

I’ll fly away oh glory
I’ll fly away in the morning
When I die hallelujah by and by
I’ll fly away

I’ll fly away oh glory
I’ll fly away in the morning
When I die hallelujah by and by
I’ll fly away

Just a few more weary days and then
I’ll fly away
To a land where joys will never end
I’ll fly away

I’ll fly away oh glory
I’ll fly away in the morning
When I die hallelujah by and by
I’ll fly away
I’ll fly away

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