UPDATE: For the YouTube video, see my newer post: http://slcblues.blogspot.com/2008/09/if-youre-looking-for-poor-wayfaring-man.html
Since I couldn't find that hymn, here are David Johansen and Brian Koonin singing "Come, Come Ye Saints." Not the same thing at all, but nicely done.
Here's how the thought process evolved that led to my looking on YouTube and everywhere else for the hymn "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief" sung by 70's punk rocker David Johansen of the New York Dolls. Strange as it may seem, everyone who hears it agrees it is possibly the most the touching rendition they've ever heard. But I get ahead of my story here.
Recently a friend of mine wrote a blog post about charitable acts and how easy it is to help from a distance without getting our hands dirty, so to speak (the actual post is about helping humanity vs. individuals, and he says it much better here). That led me to thinking further about charitable acts and service projects, and how sometimes we fail to see there may be better ways of helping someone.
And that led me to thinking of the Mormon hymn, "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief," which in turn reminded me of the David Johansen version of that hymn heard at the end of the documentary, "The New York Dolls."
A few years ago a documentary filmmaker wanted to do a film on the life of Arthur "Killer" Kane, bass player for the 70's punk rock band The New York Dolls. At the same time a reunion was organized for the band which hadn't performed together since 1975. The resulting film was one of the most surprising and touching stories I've ever watched. I was not prepared to see this wild rocker and burned out drug and alcohol addict as a converted Mormon, a soft-spoken gentle soul working in the LDS Family History library in L.A. Despite knowing nothing about the"Dolls" nor their music, I found the documentary fascinating. Arthur's co-workers at the church library, sweet little old ladies, called themselves groupies. Arthur's bishop gave him the few hundred dollars he needed to get his bass out of the pawn shop. It was nice to see a filmmaker not make fun of these sincere people on-screen. The reunion took place in London, Arthur and David reconciled after many years as bitter enemies. The seamy world of punk contrasted dramatically with Arthur's new life, and he suffered a lot of temptation and torment for his faith. After the reunion, Arthur returned to his church job. But just three weeks later, he took ill, was diagnosed with leukemia, and died shortly thereafter. The movie ended on that sad note. But I had heard, do not leave until the very end of the credits, for there you will hear David Johansen and Brian Koonin of the Dolls singing a tribute to their friend. I'm glad I waited. The hymn sung in those gravelly voices would melt the hardest of hearts.
So I have been looking for that on YouTube and all over the internet. Everwhere I looked, reviews I read, everyone mentioned the hymn and how they were affected by it. But nowhere is the video to be found online. I know the film is out in DVD, but I really just wanted to hear that hymn again. I guess I'll have to buy the video after all.