Clinch Mountain Echo

The Stanley Brothers - Sweetest Love / The Wandering Boy

(Columbia 20953) c May 1952

Sweetest Love
The Wandering Boy Sweetest Love (78 promo) The Wandering Boy (78 promo) Billboard advert 7th June 1952

This single was recorded at what would turn out to be the final session by the Stanley Brothers for Columbia in April 1952. An advert in 'Billboard' magazine from the 7th June mentions the disc as a new release, but it's ominously in very small print... and shortly after the singles release they were dropped by the label.

Sweetest Love is another of example of Carter's well-crafted song writing skills, recalling a first hand the tale of two childhood sweethearts, the heartache from being unexpectedly jilted and subsequent feeling of going through life alone, sad and lost. The chorus poses three questions to the ex-lover, before a hard truth fills the last line.

Are you tired of the life that you're livin'?
Does your mind wander back to the past?
Do you think of the love you've forsaken?
Darlin' true love is too sweet to last...

Ralph later re-recorded Sweetest Love on his The Bluegrass Sound Of... Jalyn LP and the Reunion: Featuring George Shuffler & James King Wango CD.

The flipside, The Wandering Boy is a version of one of the songs recorded by The Carter Family at their Aug. 1927 sessions in Bristol. Although credited to A.P. Carter, the song was composed by R.S. Hanna in 1894 as Somebody's Boy is Homeless Tonight. Commonly known as The Wandering Boy, there were at least fifteen versions recorded by country artists before 1942.[1] It seems likely that Bill Monroe may have influenced the Stanley's version of the song. Monroe didn't get to record the song (as Out In The Cold World) until May 1957,[2] but his lyrics are very close to the Stanley's version - more so than the Carter Family's. Gary B. Reid in his The Music Of The Stanley Brothers book, points out that there is a partial Bill Monroe home recording of the song from 1944 which can be heard on youtube... and of course Carter worked as a Blue Grass Boy for Bill in 1951.

Both sides of the original release can be found on The Complete Columbia Stanley Brothers CD.


For a detailed breakdown and background to the Stanley's session, check Gary B. Reid's The Music Of The Stanley Brothers book, pages 32-33 and 38.

Original Release:
Sweetest Love
11 Apr 1952
Columbia 20953 Carter Stanley
Ralph Stanley
Art Wooten

George Shuffler

C. Stanley
The Wandering Boy
11 Apr 1952
Columbia 20953 Carter Stanley
Ralph Stanley
Art Wooten

George Shuffler

R.S. Hanna

Go To Top Of Page [1] Neil V. Rosenberg and Charles K. Wolfe's book 'The Music Of Bill Monroe' (p. 117)
[2] as [1] (p. 131)