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Clinch Mountain Echo

The Stanley Brothers - A Life Of Sorrow / I'd Rather Be Forgotten

(Mercury-Starday 71258) Jan 1958


Original mislabelled 'A Life Of Sorrow'
I'd Rather Be Forgotten
Original 45 mislabelled 'A Life Of Sorrow' Original Mercury-Starday 45 Corrected 'A Life Of Sorrow' label I'd Rather Be Forgotten (Later Mercury 45)

Judging by the early labels and 'Billboard' review, this single should have included If That's The Way You Feel, but instead the disc featured A Life Of Sorrow on the 'A' side. On later copies, produced after the Mercury-Starday deal had collapsed, the label was corrected to show A Life Of Sorrow.

'Billboard' magazine reviewed the single in their 3rd Feb 1958 edition. A Life Of Sorrow (listed as If That's The Way You Feel) scored 74 and was described as:- "Another weeper, again in the traditional style, with authentic arrangements and delivery." The flipside also scored 73 with I'd Rather Be Forgotten being described as:- "A weeper in the traditional style, and with the true hill sound. Deejays and connoisseurs of the legit article have it here - sans gimmicks or pop choruses."[1]

Cut on the same session as the other two numbers, If That's The Way You Feel didn't see the light of day until 1971 when it resurfaced on the Japanese The Stanley Brothers & The Clinch Mountain Boys double LP. Live versions also appear on the Stanley Series, Vol. 3 No. 4 recording from 7th Sept. 1958, where the Stanley Brothers feature the song in both sets. Carter introduces it as "And this is the real, 'If That's The Way You Feel'" in reference to the label mix-up, and at the end of the song adds "Thankyou friends, that's a new number coming out on LP album on Mercury Records, called 'If That's The Way You Feel'"... I guess Carter didn't figure on it taking 13 years before that statement would come true...

A Life Of Sorrow, which is thinly veiled reworking of Man Of Constant Sorrow had previously been recorded by The Stanley Brothers in 1952 for Columbia, but it remained unreleased until the 1961 Columbia-Harmony The Stanley Brothers LP. Ralph later recut the song on his Reunion: Featuring George Shuffler & James King CD.

Both tracks from the single (plus If That's The Way You Feel) can now be found on The Complete Mercury Recordings 2xCD set.

 

For a detailed breakdown and background to the Stanley's sessions, check Gary B. Reid's The Music Of The Stanley Brothers book, pages 66-68 and 82-83.

Track:
Title:
Time:
Date:
Original Release:
Guitar:
Banjo:
Fiddle:
Mandolin:
Bass:
A-1
A Life Of Sorrow
02:34
15 Nov 1957
Mercury-Starday 71258 Carter Stanley
Ralph Stanley
Benny Martin / Howard Forrester
Bill Napier
Curley Lambert

C. Stanley
B-1
I'd Rather Be Forgotten
02:19
15 Nov 1957
Mercury-Starday 71258 Carter Stanley
Ralph Stanley
Benny Martin / Howard Forrester
Bill Napier
Curley Lambert

E.P. Williams

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