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RANK STRANGERS TO ME

(trad./Albert E. Brumley)

© Stamps-Baxter Music


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Lyrics as recorded by Bob Dylan, prob. Sunset Studios, Hollywood, CA, Apr 1987, and released on "Down In the Groove", 1988
Dylan's likely source: The Stanley Brothers


I don't know if Albert E. Brumley is still alive (somehow I doubt it), but here's some biographical info by Gene Gideon from Brumley's All-Day Singin' and Dinner on the Ground songbook, Camdenton, Missouri, © 1972:

ALBERT E. BRUMLEY, A LIVING LEGEND
People in the music business have a tendency to exaggerate a bit when speaking of the exploits of musicians and composers. A few of them deserve all the praise the get. One of them is Albert E. Brumley, gospel song writer par-excellent from the Ozark Hillls of Missouri.

He has won awards and acclaim as has no other writer in the gospel and folk music field. In 1970, he was named to the Country Song Writers Association's Hall of Fame in Nashville, one of only two gospel song writers enshrined. In 1972, he was named to the Gospel Music Association's Hall of Fame in Nashville, the only living gospel song writer to be honored.

Born near Spiro, Oklahoma, Brumley grew up like most other youngsters of that area -- chopping and picking cotton. His farming background was to serve him well in his adult years, as he pulled many ideas for songs from his youth.... He learned much of his music at the old Hartford Musical Institute at Hartford, Arkansas, in which he enrolled in 1926. He also sang bass with the Hartford Quartet, and later taught scores of the old-fashioned singing schools. In his field of music he ranked among the the most accomplished piano accompanists of that era.

Of the more than 600 songs he has written, one of the most interesting is "Turn Your Radio On," a song he wrote in 1938. Though the song has been widely used as a theme song on gospel music programs, it was not nationally recognized until 1971, when the famous pop singer, Ray Stevens, recorded it and made it a national and international favorite in 1971-72....

Albert E. Brumley is a living legend because his music and name is well known to the fans as it is to the recording artists. Many famous recording artists say a Brumley song is almost a "must" on their gospel albums....

Although I tend to doubt the number of songs actually *written* by Brumley ("...the more than 600 songs he has written..."), because most of the songs in the four Albert E. Brumley songbooks in my possession (the aforementioned All-Day Singin..., Olde Time Camp Meetin' Songs, Songs of the Pioneers and Songs of the Pioneers, Book No. 2) are *arrangements* of traditional folks songs copyrighted in Brumley's name, he is nevertheless well-known as the author of another composition, covered by Carolyn Hester with Bob Dylan in attendance, I'll Fly Away, coprighted by Brumley in 1932.

Bill C. Malone, in Country Music USA, Austin, 1968, mentions Albert E. Brumley's son, Tom Brumley, as steel guitarist of Buck Owens' Buckaroos and contends that "his father, Albert Brumley, is one of the most highly regarded composers of gospel songs in the United States and is the writer of such well-known songs as 'I'll Fly Away' and 'If We Never Meet Again.'" (p. 293).

Malone further contends that "Albert Brumley deserves a full-length study" (ibid.) and lists a short article in Music City News, III, No. 1 (July, 1965), 18.

Manfred Helfert (Mar 1997)


I wandered again
To my home in the mountains
Where in youth's early dawn
I was happy and free.
I look for my friends,
But I never could find 'em.
I found they were all
Rank strangers to me.

Everybody I met
Seem to be a rank stranger;
No mother or dad,
Not a friend could I see
. They knew not my name
And I knew not their faces --
I found they were all
Rank strangers to me.

"They've all moved away,"
Said the voice of a stranger,
"To that beautiful shore
By the bright crystal sea."
Some beautiful day
I'll meet 'em in Heaven
Where no one will be
A stranger to me.

Everybody I met
Seem to be a rank stranger;
No mother or dad,
Not a friend could I see.
They knew not my name
And I knew not their faces --
I found they were all
Rank strangers to me.


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