A Bit Like You And Me Radio

July 15, 2013

Carolyn Hester - I'll Fly Away (1961)

Carolyn Hester was born on January 28th, 1937. In high school, she sang “The Kerry Dance” in a play and impressed her physical education teacher, who then introduced her to the female folk singer Susan Reed. Enthralled with folk music, she taught herself to play guitar and moved to New York in 1955 at the age of eighteen. She recorded her first album, Scarlet Ribbons, in 1957 for Coral Records and became associated with the first wave of the “folk revival” movement that included Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Tom Paxton, and many others. In 1961, she had the opportunity to join a folk trio which already included Peter Yarrow and Paul Stookey, but she declined. The pair eventually chose Mary Travers and the now-trio became the popular Peter, Paul, & Mary. When it came to solo female folk artists, Hester and Joan Baez were at the top. Although Baez may have had the more successful career, Hester has claimed that she and Joan never had a personal nor professional rivalry. According to her, they didn’t even know one another all that well. Although the reign of her popularity began to slow down as early as the mid-sixties, Carolyn Hester never stopped working. Even in recent years, Hester has been continuing to perform with her daughters, Amy and Karla Blume. Her most recent album, We Dream Forever, was released in 2010.

In 1961, Hester was getting ready to record her third album, later to be titled Carolyn Hester (on the Columbia label), and started accumulating musicians. From her first album, she brought the same guitarist, Bruce Langhorne. She also brought a noted bassist, Bill Lee, whose son Spike Lee would later become a famous filmmaker. Finally, Hester gave the harp position to an up and coming talent she had met, Bob Dylan. You’d think she’d have given Dylan the role of harmonica, but that spot was reserved for the person who had played harmonica for her on her first album, her father.

The song heard below is a hymn written in 1929 by Albert E. Brumley. Often heard at funerals, it is one of the most recorded gospel songs in history and was created with inspiration from a non-religious ballad. The version heard below was the opening track on Hester’s Carolyn Hester (Columbia) album, which featured 100% traditional songs such as this one. The harmonica on this track was played by Bob Dylan who during the sessions met John Hammond, the man who would eventually sign him to Columbia Records, starting his ascent to super-stardom. For indirectly arranging this meeting, Carolyn Hester has always received a lot of credit for bringing Dylan into the national spotlight.

album art

Carolyn Hester - I'll Fly Away (1961)

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Lyrics:

One bright morning when this world is over
I'll fly away
To that land on God’s celestial shore
I'll fly away
Fly Away

Oh, Lordy, I’ll fly away in the morning
I'll fly away
When I die, Hallelujah, by and by
I'll fly away
Fly away

Just one more weary day and then
I’ll fly away
To that land where joy’s will never end
I’ll fly away
Fly away

Oh, Lordy, I’ll fly away in the morning
I'll fly away
When I die, Hallelujah, by and by
I'll fly away
Fly away

One bright morning when my time is nigh
I'll fly away
Like a bird, o’er these prison walls, I’ll fly
I'll fly away
Fly Away

Oh, Lordy, I’ll fly away in the morning
I'll fly away
When I die, Hallelujah, by and by
I'll fly away
Fly away

Oh, Lordy, I’ll fly away in the morning
I'll fly away
When I die, Hallelujah, by and by
I'll fly away
Fly away

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