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Shirley Verrett sings “He’s Going Away”

This week we are re-sharing a week of posts from our first summer of Song of the Day! Today’s post by Steven Blier originally ran on July 20, 2015. While the projects mentioned happened years ago, NYFOS looks forward to another exciting project with Julia Bullock this fall — stay tuned for details!


My summer has been overflowing with current projects and future ones. I’ve listened to the complete Beatles, hundreds of Schubert Lieder, and am working my way through the complete Rachmaninoff songs while practicing Guastavino, Guettel, and Grieg for recitals. This week: a few snapshots drawn from my summer musical landscape, starting with another song performed by Shirley Verrett (with the gorgeous Charles Wadsworth at the piano),“He’s Going Away.” This is one of those traditional Appalachian folk tunes John Jacob Niles adapted—and exalted—into something truly sublime. Julia Bullock and I just used it to open our July 17 concert in San Francisco, a gala to raise research money for my form of muscular dystrophy (known as FSHD). Julia is transcendent in this song. And I am always moved by the text: it’s about someone who has “gone away” for a little while, but who the narrator believes will return once he has built them a beautiful cabin in the mountains. For me, it’s about my faith that the scientists will find a treatment for FSHD—my certainty that something I’ve lost will be returned to me if I can be patient, my own “cabin in the sky.”

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