I’ll Fly Away

Picking and grinning with the blind pig gang

I’d be surprised if you weren’t familiar with the old song I’ll Fly Away. It was written by Albert E. Brumley a.k.a. gospel song writer extraordinaire. According to the Brumley website, I’ll Fly Away was the first song Brumley actually sold and one of the songs he is most famous for. The song’s steady popularity over the years since it was written, has to be a source of pride for his family.

The girls have been singing the old song on and off for the last 2 years or so. Chitter learned to play it on the piano and after that they started playing around with it. Sometimes Chitter would play and sing, other times she’d let Chatter do all the singing. More recently they’ve been letting Pap, Paul, and me make most of the music while they focus on trying to sing harmony.

Harmony is an intricate part of the type of music we perform, but harmony is not an easy thing to master. Pap and Paul are old pros, but trying to explain what they are so good at to 2 silly girls is a different story. Chitter and Chatter are learning (they could learn faster if they’d leave off the silliness and the arguing).

For most of our pickin and grinnin in the kitchen sessions I take the video camera along just in case we decide we want to video a song. We can do a song almost flawless until I turn that camera on. Paul and Pap forget the words, I go to the wrong chord, or something else happens!

The video camera makes us concentrate on doing the song right because we realize you may watch what we’re doing at some point. Silly I know, but its true. Since the camera catches the song being played with viewers in mind it sometimes misses the realness of us just being us.

Several weeks ago we were fooling around with I’ll Fly Away and really enjoying ourselves, its such a fun song to play. The girls were trying to figure out their harmony with directions from Pap and I said “Let me film you just so you can hear yourselves and maybe that will help.” So I did.

A few days later, when I watched it back I was surprised at the great feel the song had. Oh there are plenty of mistakes, I don’t think the girls start any of the verses together or on time, and you can hear Chitter’s tapping cowboy boot through the entire song (yes she wears them with shorts-they both do). Even with all the mistakes the video still has a really good feel to it. See if you like it as much as I do.

Hope you liked the video!



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  • Reply
    Kim Campbell
    February 10, 2012 at 11:16 pm

    I adore this song! I love that you girls learned to play instruments and sing with their grandpa. My grandpa would play the piano and sing hymns, but I never learned.

  • Reply
    January 25, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    This is very good,I love the pickin,I really enjoyed this, let’s hear more, Thanks you for sharing this. Kay

  • Reply
    January 15, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    I grew up with this song. I remember vividly hearing it in the primitive baptist church my grandma attended. They sang it the old way with sacred harp singing. I hope you are doing well. Maybe at some point I could meet you as now we don’t live so terribly far apart. I live in TN now just outside Nashville.

  • Reply
    Kenneth Hoffman
    January 15, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    Tipper: how deliteful the blind pig and company followed me to Arizona, the music is fantastic. those girls just get better all the time. i’ll fly away has always been right up there with me. solong from sunny az. k.o.h

  • Reply
    Walter Lynn Douglas
    January 14, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    I love this old song too. When I was growing up in the 50s, one of my neighbors would sing this song every day while working in his garden or lawn outside. You could hear him all over the nieghborhood.
    Walter lynn Douglas

  • Reply
    Patty Hall
    January 14, 2012 at 8:10 am

    Love it! I love their harmony! Keep it up girls!! I remember singing with my mom and sister in churches, we would go around to singings. I so enjoyed it. Miss those days. I love good harmony, gives me cold chills!!

  • Reply
    January 14, 2012 at 8:10 am

    Bravo! They did a great job! Pap and Paul’s direction is paying off.
    I love hearing the tapping cowboy boot!
    And the last strumming notes made me laugh, too.
    I felt like I was sitting right there in the same room. Sure wish I had been.

  • Reply
    January 13, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    One of my favorite old songs. It will always tug at my heart! Your girls did a great job with it. 🙂

  • Reply
    January 13, 2012 at 9:30 am

    What a treat! Those young ladies have voices like angels! Harmony will come with time – and would you really want to skip any of the silliness in-between?

  • Reply
    brenda s 'okie in colorado'
    January 12, 2012 at 11:16 pm

    I’ll Fly Away was my favorite gospel song growing up. Loved hearing the girls sing this great song. Like Chitter, I love my cowgirl boots. Thank you Tipper for the information on the songwriter and the beautiful video of the girls..

  • Reply
    Suzi Phillips
    January 12, 2012 at 11:04 pm

    One of my all time favorites & I loved how relaxed it was! I never have liked my mountain music too polished-it just seems more heartfelt when it’s a little rough around the edges.

  • Reply
    January 12, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    One of my favorite songs from the “O Brother, Where Art Thou” soundtrack, and your girls were absolutely wonderful!

  • Reply
    Karen Larsen
    January 12, 2012 at 6:53 pm

    I love this song. And I love how Chitter and Chatter sound!

  • Reply
    January 12, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    I really enjoyed hearing the girls singing this. They are getting better and better with their harmoninzing. I love this old song! When we sing it in church it has everyone clapping their hands and tapping their feet. You can’t help but to feel the spirit!

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    January 12, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    Wonderful! Brought back so many memories of my grandparents. Also my brothers playing & singing at Mama’s house.

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    January 12, 2012 at 11:41 am

    One of my favorites and one of the few I go working pretty well in my quest to figure out 5-string banjo. Nor ready for the Opry yet!!

  • Reply
    January 12, 2012 at 11:10 am

    I did enjoy the video; such wonderful talent in your family!
    Brumley songs are all so pretty. My mama and daddy sang in a quartet and many of the songs were written by Brumley and had terrific alto leads which Mama sang so beautifully. I soon learned every part listening to them.

  • Reply
    January 12, 2012 at 11:08 am

    Anything the girls sing makes me
    pay attention, I love their own
    harmony. Just like the Louvin
    Brothers did, they know naturally
    when to switch tones. Chitter’s
    toe-tapping shows she’s feeling it, and Chatter looks so relaxed
    playing her Christmas present.
    Way to Go!!!…Ken

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    January 12, 2012 at 10:12 am

    “I’ll Fly Away” is one of my favorite songs….When I went back to college I had a friend that was part-Cherokee and she could “tickle the ivories”…When she played and sung “I’ll Fly Away”, the piano literally walked across the floor!..LOL
    The song itself is very condusive to harmony…I catch myself, everytime I hear it, trying to harmonize…and I try even with the dog cocking his head sideways and the cat meowing…LOL
    The girls did a great job and I love the rhythmic tapping of her boot..I knew any minute she would break out in a clog…LOL
    I’d say that if one positively knows they are flying away to glory you would sing and dance, harmonizing and tapping your toes all the way to heaven!
    Thanks Tipper and girls…great

  • Reply
    January 12, 2012 at 10:12 am

    I love the family “nicknames” Chitter and Chatter. They did a lovely job of the song “I’ll Fly Away” and the “Prisoner’s Song” is another one I have done at a jamboree. Keep on singing Folks, it’s a pleasure to hear y’all here in New Brunswick, Canada.

  • Reply
    January 12, 2012 at 10:10 am

    What a great job the girls did on that song. I remember my great Grandma used to hum that song all the time – like when she was breaking up green beans or whatever – when she wasn’t singing it.
    Whoever was playing that Mandolin sure knew how to play!

  • Reply
    Lonnie Dockery
    January 12, 2012 at 9:52 am

    That’s great! The toe-tapping wasn’t distracting at all–in fact I had to go back and listen to even notice it. The music was great–the base sure was sounding off too!

  • Reply
    January 12, 2012 at 9:43 am

    I’ll fly Away, is a popular song that we close out our local jamborees with. I love to do the harmony on that song.
    I would love to hear Pop & Paul sing The Banks of the Ohio. I can imagine how great the harmony would sound in their rendition. Please let me know if they have done it and post it on youtube so I could hear it. Keep up the wonderful blogs and music, you’ve got a wonderful site here.Thank you for sharing. LOL Angie

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    January 12, 2012 at 9:38 am

    The song is lovely, we don’t worry about a few glitches. lol. Their harmony is getting better and better. The Deer Hunter told me once that the best harmony is done with siblings. Guess that’s so!

  • Reply
    sandy kalvaitis
    January 12, 2012 at 9:27 am

    Love it so much when you share your music with us. So nice to wake up to.

  • Reply
    Uncle Al
    January 12, 2012 at 9:19 am

    Being “real” for all of us out here in cyber land is to me the best of times. While I understand the need for musicians to “get it right” it just gives it a little more down-home feeling…that feeling you have when you’re a part of something special. Listening to all the songs done by the girls, Pap and Paul and whomever is joining in is always a special treat! I’m gonna go cut some collards and I’ll bet I’ll be humming or singing that tune.

  • Reply
    barb Johnson
    January 12, 2012 at 9:12 am

    This is the song my seven yr old requests every night at bed time…

  • Reply
    Bill Dotson
    January 12, 2012 at 9:10 am

    Tipper, the girls did a great job on that song, I think their harmony is coming along great.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    January 12, 2012 at 9:02 am

    Today’s blog brought both a tear to my eye and a smile to face. As you may recall, “I’ll Fly Away” was one of the songs sung at Dad’s funeral just under a year ago. Interestingly, when we were discussing the funeral service with the minister, Terry Hanna, she indicated that was a song she wanted sung at her funeral. Taking things back in time a bit, it was the favorite song of a truly grand old son of the Smokies, Wiley Oakley. For those on the blog who don’t recognize the name, he was the many who pretty much put Gatlinburg, TN on the map. He was a guide, storyteller, hunter, fisherman, and the author of several books on the mountains which are great reading. They include Roamin’ with the Roamin’ Man of the Smoky Mountains, Restin’ with the Roamin’ Man of the Smoky Mountains, and Roamin’ and Restin’ with the Roamin’ Man of the Smoky Mountains (I reckon he he didn’t want to include “Ramblin’ in his book titles). Often Wiley and some of his numerous brood of children would entertain visitors to his store down town (Gatlinburg then was a far cry from the mess it is today) with a rousing rendition of “I’ll Fly Away.”
    A group Ann and I get to hear two or three times a year, comprised of outdoor writers and friends who get together from some pickin’ and grinnin’ (rest assured I’m the designated grinner), do a medley of grand old songs including this one, “Life Is Like a Mountain Railway,” “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” and a couple more. The harmony is almost haunting (several of the folks have professional backgrounds of one sort or another in Nashville and one of them, Rob Simbeck, currently writes the narrative for the weekly “Country Music Countdown” radio program). Anyway, today’s offering struck a mighty responsive chord with me.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Ray P. Algee
    January 12, 2012 at 8:51 am

    Tipper, The story that I heard re: the song was that after hearing the old song, “The Prisoner’s Song”, which has a line similar to, “If I had the wings of an Angel, over these prison walls I would fly…”, Brumley got the catch-line, I’ll fly away. Thus “I’ll Fly Away.”

  • Reply
    Canned Quilter
    January 12, 2012 at 8:39 am

    Great song and what a talented pair those two are : )

  • Reply
    Mary Shipman
    January 12, 2012 at 8:37 am

    loved this!

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    January 12, 2012 at 8:13 am

    Love the song, love the girls singing it!

  • Reply
    Janet Smart
    January 12, 2012 at 8:10 am

    that’s always been one of my favorite songs. It’s one you can catch yourself singing while working around the house. They did a great job singing it.

  • Reply
    lynn legge
    January 12, 2012 at 7:56 am

    i love that song. its one of my favorites and i love hearing the tap tap of the toes.. so adorable.. you have a beautiful family and have blessed us all by your sharing such wonderful music..
    sending big warm ladybug hugs (its snowing here in pa )

  • Reply
    January 12, 2012 at 7:54 am

    I love this song, we sang it in church all the time and i love it with quartets. the girls sound great to me and it is a foot tapping song. the only bad thing is now I will be humming singing and whistling it all day and drive hubby nuts. it was caught in my mind as soon as i read the name of it, then when the girls sang that did it

  • Reply
    January 12, 2012 at 7:51 am

    Oh my Tipper—your gals sure have started my day off with a smile—I learned that song as a very young girl –and my sister and I sang that together while my hands flew across the keys—I always upbeat every thing –but in an olde fashion camp meeting setting sometimes the faster the better–those with music ability could usually keep up with me others played along whenever they could—then when I heard that extra strumming at the end I had to giggle for my brother and son always seem to do that when they play together—so thanks much for the memory and Chitter and Chatter keep on working on that harmony and it will eventually just come together for you!

  • Reply
    January 12, 2012 at 7:45 am

    Enjoyed listening to the girls sing that old song. Have sung it all my like. At every church service it was sung but now it seems like so many churches sing praise songs and have forgotten the old hymns.

  • Reply
    Ed Myers
    January 12, 2012 at 7:45 am

    I seem to remember this song being part of the collections for “Oh, Brother” or “Songcatcher”. Whoever did it, and I apologize for laziness in not looking it up, she did a fantastic job, as did this remarkable songwriter.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    January 12, 2012 at 7:25 am

    Them girls are gonna be great one day if they keep at it. I listened to them over and over while I checked my email this morning and started out singing “I’ll fly Away” on the way to work. But by time I got there I was singing “Looking for a City” Who woulda thunk that?

  • Reply
    Tim Mclemore
    January 12, 2012 at 6:56 am

    Wonderful old song, it’s one of those songs that you don’t get tired of hearing, (especially the older I get). The girls are doing a good job, you got yourself a couple more good singers in the family, enjoyed it.

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