"Farther Along" is of uncertain authorship, dating from the early 1900s. It has been covered by artists including Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt, the 60s folk-rock group the Byrds, African American gospel singer Willie Neal Johnson and the Gospel Keynotes, country music icon Johnny Cash and blues legend Mississippi John Hurt, among many others. I first learned it in an inner-city ecumenical congregation in Knoxville, Tenn., and songs like "Farther Along" were perfect for getting 1970s-vintage hippies, street people, members of the old Epworth Methodist congregation and grad students from the nearby University of Tennessee singing - literally - from the same page.
"Farther Along" is also a favorite gospel piece in the mountain dulcimer world, where its harmonies lend themselves to group singing.
I'm going to embed two videos - the first is by members of the "Flat Mountain Dulcimer Club" in eastern North Carolina (where there aren't any mountains and it's pretty flat). It's representative of what a well rehearsed dulcimer club does with the song:
The other video shows vocalist Patty Mitchell, who has sung with artists as varied as Ralph Stanley the Dixie Chicks, backed by dulcimer player Stephen Seifert (who was in Springfield last year for one of our workshops). Steve's backup is understated, but the way he engages with the music shows how much the mountain dulcimer is capable of:
Here's the music:
- Dulcimer tablature in DAD and DAA by Steve Smith of the Western North Carolina Dulcimer Collective on the everythingdulcimer.com website at http://everythingdulcimer.com/tab/Farther_Along.pdf.
- Six verses in four-part harmony (in D, no less!) on the timelesstruths.org website at http://library.timelesstruths.org/music/Farther_Along/pdf/
But that stuff comes later.
For now, all you need is to play the melody line in DAD.
I like to mark the DAD fret numbers with a highlighter, so they'll stand out the first few times I've playing through the melody. It's a trick that comes in handy with church choir music, and it works like a charm when dulcimer tab gets complicated, too.