Alfie Boe’s Top Ten Songs: Number 3 is

Rank Strangers To Me, an American folk song from the early twentieth century which Alfie first sang on his Bring Him Home tour of 2012 and then recorded for Storyteller that same year.  At number 3 in the Alfie Boe Top Ten Songs, it is the second and highest placed song from Storyteller.  Interestingly, both songs (the other is Wayfaring Stranger) are infused with the gospel, bluegrass sound that paved the way from that album to Trust.

Rank Strangers was written by Albert Brumley, a musician and singer born in Oklahoma in 1905.  After studying at the Hartford Musical Institute, Arkansas,  Brumley toured with the Hartford Quartet and went on to write / copyright an astonishing 800 songs.  The most famous of these is I’ll Fly Away from 1932.  In 1970 he was inducted into the Country Song Writer’s Hall of Fame and his songs have been covered by amongst others, Bob Dylan, who I’m sure introduced Alfie to the song.  Unfortunately for Alfie I couldn’t find a video of Dylan singing the song but here is The Stanley Brothers who made the song famous in the 1950’s:

As you can see, this version is very different from Alfie’s, although both have a recognisable gospel and bluegrass sound.  Alfie’s recorded version was famously done in one take, with Alfie conducting all the musicians in an improvised session.  The result was so good that they never went back and changed anything.

However, of those who nominated and voted for Rank Strangers, the vast majority mentioned that they preferred Alfie’s acapella version, so here it is (thanks Linda W for sharing):

There are just two songs left on the list!  And you’ll have to wait a whole week to find out which order they’re in!

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