October 31

Reflections of a Wayfaring Stranger: Giddens and Cash’s Different Renditions of an American Classic

We are all Wayfaring Strangers

There is a certain reverence to a song whenever it is dedicated to our Lord. And in gospel’s vast repertoire, there is no other song like “Wayfaring Stranger.” The feel of the song accurately portrays the trials of which we undergo before we go to our eternal resting place. There is a sense of tiredness in “Wayfaring Stranger,” of which we could easily latch on to. However, we are different wayfaring strangers in our rights, based on our different paths of life. An,d no cover portrays these walks of like like Rhiannon Giddens and Johnny Cash.

Rhiannon Giddens: The External Societal Struggle

Rhiannon Giddens holds true to mixing bluegrass with strong Celtic vibes with her rendition of the song. You would instantly be pulled into her angelic voice. The way she sings the song makes you feel like she’s the type of wayfarer who has been through everything that life threw at her. And now that she has the opportunity to come home to her God brings her such relief.

Giddens portrays a woman who capitulates to her fate and leaves it up to her faith for her deliverance. It feels like she’s tired, to be quite honest. The lyrics mirror her sadness in carrying the burden of life alone. She has known all sadness that life cared to show her. And now, she’s ready to come home to her God.

Listen to her beautiful rendition here:

Johnny Cash: Battling His Inner Demons

Johnny Cash brings the much-needed grit in his rendition of “Wayfaring Stranger.” His interpretation paints a picture of another tired soul, but this time he is battling his internal struggle. But even during the times of clouded judgment, he concludes that he must go home to his true home.

Cash gives us a darker version of the song, with what seems to be grim overtones with his strong baritone. His life is no secret to us, his fans. And, I believe he put himself into the song. When you close your eyes and just feel the song, you could feel his intentions. It strongly speaks of his demons, of which he battled so bravely during his lifetime. But now, he is home.

Listen to his amazing rendition here:


Country Gospel, gospel, Johnny Cash, Rhiannon Giddens, Wayfaring Stranger

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