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Noah Robinson
Noah Robinson

The Amazing Story of Ralph Stanley, the Man of Constant Sorrow

Man of Constant Sorrow: My Life and Times Free Downloadl

If you are a fan of bluegrass music, you have probably heard of Ralph Stanley, one of the pioneers and legends of the genre. But do you know his story? In his autobiography, Man of Constant Sorrow: My Life and Times, he reveals his personal and professional journeys, from his humble beginnings in the Appalachian mountains to his worldwide fame and acclaim. In this article, we will give you an overview of his life and music, as well as tell you how you can download his book for free.

Man Of Constant Sorrow: My Life And Times Free Downloadl

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The Early Years of Ralph Stanley

Ralph Stanley was born in 1927 in Big Spraddle Creek, Virginia, a remote and poor area where music was a part of everyday life. He learned to sing in church and to play the banjo from his mother, who taught him the clawhammer style. He was fascinated by the old-time mountain music that echoed from the hills and hollows, and he developed his own distinctive voice and technique. For his eleventh birthday, he had to choose between buying a sow or a banjo. He chose the banjo, which would become his lifelong companion.

The Stanley Brothers and the Birth of Bluegrass

In 1946, Ralph joined forces with his older brother Carter, who played guitar and sang lead vocals. They formed the Stanley Brothers, a duo that would create some of the most influential songs in bluegrass history. They blended their harmonies with fast-paced rhythms, creating a sound that was both traditional and innovative. They recorded hundreds of songs, including classics like "White Dove", "Rank Stranger", and "Man of Constant Sorrow", which became Ralph's signature song. They also formed their own band, the Clinch Mountain Boys, which featured some of the best musicians in the field.

The Death of Carter and the Solo Career of Ralph

The Stanley Brothers enjoyed two decades of success, but they also faced hard times. Carter struggled with alcoholism, which affected his health and performance. He died in 1966 at age 41, leaving Ralph devastated. Ralph decided to carry on with the music, taking over as lead singer and leader of the Clinch Mountain Boys. He also changed his style, going back to his roots and playing more traditional old-time mountain music. He recorded dozens of albums, collaborating with artists like Bill Monroe, Ricky Skaggs, Keith Whitley, Emmylou Harris, Bob Dylan, and many others.

The Revival of Old-Time Mountain Music

In 2000, Ralph Stanley gained a new wave of popularity and recognition, thanks to his involvement in the soundtrack of the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou?. He sang "O Death", a haunting a cappella song that won him a Grammy Award. He also appeared in the documentary Down from the Mountain and the concert tour that followed. He reached a wider and younger audience, who appreciated his authentic and powerful music. He continued to tour and record until his death in 2016, at age 89.

The Legacy of Ralph Stanley

Ralph Stanley left behind a rich and lasting legacy, not only in bluegrass music, but also in American culture. He was a living link to a vanishing Appalachian heritage, a musical treasure that he preserved and shared with the world. He influenced generations of musicians, who admired his voice, his banjo playing, his songwriting, and his spirit. He received numerous awards and honors, including an honorary doctorate of music, induction into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor and the Grand Ole Opry, and the National Medal of Arts.

Awards and Honors

Here are some of the accolades that Ralph Stanley received for his music:

  • Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance for "O Death" in 2002

  • National Medal of Arts in 2006

  • Induction into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor in 1992

  • Induction into the Grand Ole Opry in 2000

  • Honorary Doctorate of Music from Lincoln Memorial University in 1976

Famous Songs and Albums

Here are some of the most popular and acclaimed songs and albums that Ralph Stanley recorded:

  • "Man of Constant Sorrow" (1949), his signature song, which was covered by many artists and featured in O Brother, Where Art Thou?

  • "White Dove" (1955), a mournful ballad that became a bluegrass standard

  • "Rank Stranger" (1960), a gospel song that expressed his longing for heaven

  • O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000), the soundtrack album that won him a Grammy Award and introduced him to a new audience

  • Clinch Mountain Country (1998), a double album that featured duets with various artists, including Bob Dylan, Emmylou Harris, Dwight Yoakam, Patty Loveless, and Vince Gill

  • Clinch Mountain Sweethearts (2001), a follow-up album that featured duets with female artists, including Dolly Parton, Iris DeMent, Joan Baez, Lucinda Williams, and Gillian Welch

Quotes and Anecdotes

Here are some of the memorable words and stories that Ralph Stanley shared in his book and interviews:

"I always said I'd never quit as long as I had good health. And I love it as much now as I ever did."

"I don't like to be called a legend. I just want to be known as an old-time mountain musician."

"I never tried to copy anybody. I just play what I feel."

"When I sing 'Man of Constant Sorrow', I don't think about the movie. I think about all the hard times me and Carter had trying to get started."

"One time me and Carter was playing at this schoolhouse in Kentucky. There was a big snowstorm and nobody showed up except one man. He paid two dollars to get in. We played the whole show for him. We didn't cut nothing out. We did encores. We gave him his money's worth."


Ralph Stanley was a man of constant sorrow, but also a man of constant music. He lived a life full of challenges and triumphs, joys and sorrows, songs and stories. He was one of the greatest musicians of our time, and his music will live on forever. If you want to learn more about his life and times, you can download his book for free from this link: You will not regret it.


Here are some frequently asked questions about the book and the author:

  • A: He wrote the book with the help of Eddie Dean, a journalist and music writer who interviewed him extensively.

  • Q: How long did it take him to write the book?

  • A: He started working on the book in 2007 and finished it in 2009. It was published in 2010.

  • Q: What are some of the topics he covers in the book?

  • A: He covers his childhood, his family, his musical influences, his relationship with his brother Carter, his struggles with alcohol and depression, his faith, his marriages and children, his collaborations with other artists, his involvement in O Brother, Where Art Thou?, and his thoughts on death and legacy.

  • Q: How did he feel about writing the book?

  • A: He said he enjoyed writing the book and sharing his story with his fans. He also said he felt relieved to get some things off his chest and to set the record straight on some issues.

  • Q: What are some of the reviews of the book?

  • A: The book received mostly positive reviews from critics and readers. They praised his honesty, humor, and insight into his music and culture. They also appreciated his contribution to American history and heritage.



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