“Fare Thee Well” – or “Dink’s Song” as it is sometimes known – is a traditional American folk song that has been recorded by Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, Dave Van Ronk and others. It features in the Cohen brothers’ film, ‘Inside Lewellyn Davis’, in which it is performed by Marcus Mumford and Oscar Isaac.
This song was ‘discovered’ by the folklorist, John Lomax, when, in 1904, he recorded a black woman called Dink sing it, as she washed clothes on the banks of the Brazos river, in Texas. This helps to distinguish it from other folk songs also called ‘Fare Thee Well’. The musical simplicity of the song, which uses only four chords, enables a soulful beauty to shine through. Dink’s song is essentially about the anguish of longing for a loved-one who has gone. Or, perhaps, never was.