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Life of Burl Ives

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LOLLIPOP TREE
THE LITTLE WHITE DUCK


Related threads:
Is Burl Ives underated? (42)
Burl Ives records: Historical America in Song (40)
Lyr Req: A Man Can't Grow Old (from Burl Ives) (20)
Lyr Req: The Lollipop Tree (25)
Lyr Req: I'm the Boss (from Burl Ives) (7)
Lyr Req: Sweet Little Robin (Burl Ives) (39) (closed)
Lyr Req: On the Front Porch (from Burl Ives) (13)
Burl Ives LP: A Collection of Songs from Burl Ives (27)
Lyr Req: Funny Little Show (Burl Ives) (4)
Burl Ives CD (12)
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Burl Ives experts? (27)
Burl Ives 'Were You There' (12)
Burl Ives Chautauqua DVD - photographs (2)
Lyr Req: Saxby Gale (from Burl Ives) (6)
Lyr Req: River of Smoke (from Burl Ives) (10)
Lyr Req: Silver and Gold (Burl Ives) (6)
Olde Burl Ives Records (5)
Burl Ives: story? (40)
Burl Ives: story? (8) (closed)
Lyr Req: The Lollipop Tree (Burl Ives) (9) (closed)
Lyr Req: The Lollipop Tree (from Burl Ives) (7) (closed)
Lyr Req: Little White Duck (Burl Ives) (12)


Gary D in Central MN 25 Apr 97 - 10:44 PM
Gene Graham 26 Apr 97 - 03:52 AM
Bobby O'Brien 26 Apr 97 - 06:58 AM
GUEST,Alex Ives 23 Mar 09 - 10:41 AM
Dave Hanson 23 Mar 09 - 11:17 AM
Big Mick 23 Mar 09 - 11:17 AM
GUEST,TJ in San Diego 23 Mar 09 - 11:25 AM
NormanD 23 Mar 09 - 02:00 PM
The Sandman 23 Mar 09 - 02:05 PM
Big Mick 23 Mar 09 - 02:18 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 23 Mar 09 - 02:19 PM
PoppaGator 23 Mar 09 - 02:29 PM
Ebbie 23 Mar 09 - 02:44 PM
GUEST,kendall 23 Mar 09 - 03:00 PM
DougR 23 Mar 09 - 03:09 PM
Don Firth 23 Mar 09 - 03:18 PM
The Sandman 23 Mar 09 - 04:48 PM
Little Hawk 23 Mar 09 - 04:57 PM
GUEST,DWR 23 Mar 09 - 06:29 PM
Big Mick 23 Mar 09 - 06:34 PM
Uncle_DaveO 23 Mar 09 - 06:56 PM
Sandra in Sydney 23 Mar 09 - 08:26 PM
DougR 24 Mar 09 - 01:38 AM
Fidjit 24 Mar 09 - 05:05 AM
DougR 24 Mar 09 - 05:03 PM
Don Firth 24 Mar 09 - 06:31 PM
GUEST,too scared 25 Mar 09 - 12:08 AM
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JJ 25 Mar 09 - 08:49 AM
Thomas Stern 25 Mar 09 - 01:39 PM
DougR 25 Mar 09 - 02:22 PM
Don Firth 25 Mar 09 - 03:17 PM
DougR 25 Mar 09 - 03:41 PM
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Subject: Life of Burl Ives
From: Gary D in Central MN
Date: 25 Apr 97 - 10:44 PM

I was much saddened by the death of this great folksinger last year. He was truly instrumental in molding my interest in music and I listened to his children's songs as a child, more than 50 years ago..and have loved his music all through the years. I know little of his life, and would like to get any background info on this ballad singer. Any help would be appreciated...Thanks, Gary.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Gene Graham
Date: 26 Apr 97 - 03:52 AM

Try these sites:

http://www.burlives.com/index.html

http://www.grandtimes.com/ives.html

http://www.burlives.com/personal.htm


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Bobby O'Brien
Date: 26 Apr 97 - 06:58 AM

A few interesting tidbits on Burl Ives:

1. Though he recorded many a children's song, he HATED

children more than the plague!

2. He was a militant rebel against the US government in

his own way.

3. When asked what was his favourite song, of all he

recorded, he referenced a little known obscure ditty

found on an old Decca album from the early 60s, "I found

my best friend at the Dog Pound" !

Still, he's a legend. What a voice!

His final television appearance was in 1987 on Dolly

Parton's ABC-TV Variety Show, on her Christmas episode

in which Ives sang "Holly Jolly Christmas", and later,

in a sketch, played a mysterious ghost who appeared at

Dixie's Diner one Christmas Eve.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: GUEST,Alex Ives
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 10:41 AM

From what mine of expertise comes the fable that he hated children?


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 11:17 AM

He also ' named ' people during the communist witch hunt, but I still liked his singing.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Big Mick
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 11:17 AM

Not sure where that came from either!

When I was in Washington DC once, I popped into the Library of Congress, Folklife section and ran into KarenK and Joe Hickerson. Joe asked me if I would sing a song. I said sure, but I didn't have a guitar. He said, "would you mind playing Burl Ives guitar?". I thought for a millisecond and said, "sure". Apparently Burl left one of his classical guitars to the library. It was tuned down a step, wide neck classical. I loved it.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 11:25 AM

It is curious that this thread should manifest just now. I grew up in the 1940's and remember The Weavers and Burl Ives as early radio fare on our remote ranch. I can remember seeing him on early black and white television variety shows and later, of course, in a number of films; notably as "Big Daddy" in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof." So who was he - the jolly fat man who sang children's songs or the dark and surly character he sometimes portrayed in film? I faintly recall reading some biographical information on him years ago, but cannot recall any accusations of his "hating children." Of course, he did have what many still refer to as his "dark side;" i.e., his stance during the McCarthy era. Anything's possible. I have met few show business folks over the years who were entirely what their public persona made them seem.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: NormanD
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 02:00 PM

Was it Lee Hays, in talking about Burl Ives's testimony against his former left-wing colleagues, say "he was the only person able to sing and crawl on his stomach at the same time"?


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: The Sandman
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 02:05 PM

so, what exactly did Burl say.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Big Mick
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 02:18 PM

Captain, you need to google Burl Ives HUAC testimony. You will find many listings that detail this shameful time of our history.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 02:19 PM

Pete Seeger was one of the people he named. A few years before Ives passed, Pete joined Ives onstage and they sang "Blue Tail Fly" together.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: PoppaGator
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 02:29 PM

I only vaguely remember Burl as a singer; his recordings (and even video performances of his songs) don't get replayed on contemporary media hardly ever.

But as an actor? "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" is on TCM in heavy rotation; I haven't yet gotten tired of watching it, so I get to see Burl Ives as an actor on a regular basis, at least once every couple of months.

The film features great performances by Paul Newman and Liz Taylor, and Burl absolutely holds his own with those superstars in a large and important supporting role.

The real-life Burl Ives may or may not have "hated children" (a la W.C. Fields), but that nasty Big Daddy character he was able to portray so well was certainly capable of hating anyone and everyone!


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Ebbie
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 02:44 PM

If Burl Ives hated children, I pity his children and grandchildren. :)


Photos


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: GUEST,kendall
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 03:00 PM

He intruduced me to folk music mid 40's.
He was also in East of Eden with James Dean.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: DougR
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 03:09 PM

I am a fan of Burl Ives. My children were raised on his music. I only saw a live performance one time. He came on stage with his guitar, curtain at his back and entertained an audience of 800+ in grand style.

I, too, heard that he hated children but I'm not sure I didn't learn that on this thread back in 1997.

If Pete Seeger could forgive and forget, who am I to hold a grudge?

DougR


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Don Firth
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 03:18 PM

Burl Ives was the first folk singer I ever heard of back in the 1940s. I used to listen to his radio program, "The Wayfaring Stranger," when I was in my teens. I think I learned more about American history up close from him than I did in school. He would talk about something like, say, the building of the Erie Canal, and sing a bunch of songs related to it. When I first got actively interested in folk music, some of the first songs I learned were from his records.

Burl Ives' early autobiography, The Wayfaring Stranger (1948), is well worth a read. It's been awhile since I read it, but I particularly remember where he says that he was in New York studying music at a music conservatory and living with a number of other music students. He was studying to be a singer of lieder (art songs), but when he got homesick, he'd take out his guitar and sing some of the songs he had learned from his grandmother. The other students made fun of the songs and mocked him. So one afternoon, he took his guitar to a nearby park. He wasn't thinking of busking or anything like that, he just wanted to sing a bit with no one around but a few pigeons.

It wasn't long before a few children stopped to listen, then more and more people drifted in. Before long he was doing an impromptu concert for a sizable and very appreciative crowd.

He made a decision then. "Why am I killing myself trying to develop a repertoire of songs that are really foreign to me, language and all, when I already have a large repertoire of songs that I've been singing all my life?"

He dropped out of the conservatory and started singing folk songs, and the rest is history.

As I say, it's been awhile since I read the book and I may have got a detail or two wrong, but this is as I remember it.

Don Firth

P. S. Regarding the HUAC business:   well after the hearings, Woody Guthrie, who didn't seem to be into bearing grudges, dropped in on Burl Ives in California and they spent some time together, even swapping some songs. When Woody came back east, he was asked about Ives. Woody responded, "He's one angry man!" "What's he so angry about?" he was asked. Woody answered, "He's angry with himself!"

So, all things considered, I think that if those whom he harmed by his testimony can be forgiving, it wouldn't hurt us to be the same. Burl Ives was a major figure in American folk music and a real force in setting the stage early on for the revival of interest in folk music in the U. S.

P. P. S. The kids in the photos look happy to be with grandpa, and grandpa seems to be pretty tickled with them. Hated children? Unlikely.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: The Sandman
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 04:48 PM

but Burl was pressurised,was he not,the real villains were the US government and Senator McCarthy,Nixon?.
How much pressure was Burl put under?


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Little Hawk
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 04:57 PM

A good deal, I would think.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: GUEST,DWR
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 06:29 PM

I think everyone should go back and look at the name of the person who resurrected this thread on 23 Mar 09 - 10:41 AM -- Alex Ives. I have no reason not to believe that this is Burl's son. I am sorry that he didn't stick around to refute the accusation. I hope he comes back; I am sure he would have just the right amount of expertise to fill in the answers to at least some of the questions that have been raised here.

From what mine of expertise comes the fable that he hated children? Sounds like that fills in one blank.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Big Mick
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 06:34 PM

I had the same impression, DWR. I felt like there were mountains of information behind that one statement, and that it was authentically Alex Ives.

Alex, if you read this, please jump back in. If you would prefer to share info privately, drop me a line. My email is Mick at Mudcat.org

All the best,

Mick


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 06:56 PM

TJ in San Diego asked:

So who was he - the jolly fat man who sang children's songs or the dark and surly character he sometimes portrayed in film?

The man was an actor, fergoonessake!

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 08:26 PM

Guest, Alex Ives also posted the same comment on another old Burl Ives thread.

I recently bought a sheet music booklet of Australian songs that Burl Ives sung.

sandra


Burl Ives' Folio of Australian Folk Songs' collected by Percy Jones & published in 1953.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: DougR
Date: 24 Mar 09 - 01:38 AM

I don't think anyone has mentioned the movie, "The Big Country" that featured Burl Ives, Gregory Peck, and a host of other good actors. He was excellent in that role, and if you haven't seen it, I certainly would recommend that you do so. I don't recall that he sang a single note in that movie, but he certainly played a pivotal role.

DougR


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Fidjit
Date: 24 Mar 09 - 05:05 AM

He was "Big Daddy" in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

Chas


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: DougR
Date: 24 Mar 09 - 05:03 PM

Other cast members of "The Big Country": Jean Simmons, Charles Bickford, and Charlton Heston. A very good Western movie.

DougR


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Don Firth
Date: 24 Mar 09 - 06:31 PM

I'm most definitely with Doug on this! (How many times does that happen, Doug?)

The Big Country is what I consider the quintessential Western. It is big, it is sweeping, and it has everything, including all of the clichés one finds in a very satisfying Western:

A Stranger from back East, James McKay (Gregory Peck), formerly a seafaring man, comes out West to marry the rancher's (Charles Bickford) pretty daughter (Carroll Baker). Ranch foreman (Charlton Heston), is also in love with the rancher's daughter. There's a major fistfight out in the corral, but the outcome is not quite what one usually expects from this sort of dust-up. Pretty schoolmarm (Jean Simmons) whom all the males in the area are lusting after, not just because she's pretty, but because she owns some land that everybody wants. Major conflict between the wealthy rancher (Bickford) and the poor rancher Rufus Hannassey (Burl Ives) over—what else?—water rights! Hannassey has a batch of rowdy sons, but one of the sons, Buck (Chuck Connors) is a particularly nasty piece of work. The inevitable face to face shoot-out between McKay and Buck Hannassey (but not like any quick-draw shoot-out you've ever seen in any Western). The father-son love-hate interplay between Rufus Hannassey and his son Buck is particularly poignant and marvelously acted. And finally, the conflict over water rights escalates into an all-out range war, complete with face to face confrontation between the wealthy rancher and Rufus Hannassey. Here, too, the outcome is not quite what one usually expects, but the inevitability of it proves to be quite satisfying.

All of the characters are fine-drawn, essentially Western movie stereotypes, but each one has something that is uniquely un-stereotypical. And all of the clichés are there, but each one has an unusual twist that turns this movie into a genuine Classic.

And it is BIG. I bought the VHS version a few decades ago and it covers two cassettes. Two hours and forty-five minutes.

Thanks for the reminder, Doug! I've gotta watch it yet again. I'm going to replace the VHS with the DVD version. Definitely a keeper!

Most people are under the impression that Burl Ives got his Oscar for his bravura performance as "Big Daddy" in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. But no. It was for his portrayal of "Rufus Hannassey" in The Big Country. Bloody brilliant!!

Get it! Pig out!   Enjoy!!!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: GUEST,too scared
Date: 25 Mar 09 - 12:08 AM

Burl Ives' singing was part of my introduction to folk music, which is still a major part of my life. Still, what he did was wrong. Turning people in to the anti-communist witch hunters meant destroying people's lives. You young people have no idea how scary it was. My father knew someone who lost his job because his picture was taken at a party with Julius and Ethel Rosenberg before they were accused of spying. This man had never met them before and never saw them again, but he was fired. People's lives were destroyed based on associations that would be considered innocuous in other circumstances.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Charley Noble
Date: 25 Mar 09 - 08:10 AM

Tony Kraber (cowboy songs) and Richard Dyer-Bennet (folk music troubadour) were two other singers who were named by Burl Ives as "Communists or fellow travelers."

Their musical careers were severely curtailed after the naming. Yes, Dyer-Bennet continued to perform concerts but in a much more narrow range of venues.

In contrast, the career of Burl Ives continued to flourish, a tribute to his outstanding talent but also to the marginalizing of other major folk music performers as the Weavers.

I still enjoy his singing but I have greater respect for those who didn't cave under pressure at the Committee hearings. It's one thing to confess to one's own involvement in "subversive" causes. It's quite another to name one's close friends and associates. I'm sure that Ives was haunted by his confessions.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: JJ
Date: 25 Mar 09 - 08:49 AM

Ives' early professional work included a Broadway debut in Rodgers and Hart's The Boys From Syracuse in 1938. That early lieder training must have helped a young man not yet twenty land the role of the Tailor's Apprentice.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Thomas Stern
Date: 25 Mar 09 - 01:39 PM

Burl Ives extensive acting credits are documented at the internet movie database (www.imdb.com) site.
I believe his role in OUR MAN IN HAVANA (1959) was in part a mea culpa for caving to HUAC. Would be greatly interested in others view on this.
If you do not know this film, it is well worth seeing (cast includes Alec Guinness, Ernie Kovacs, Noel Coward, and Burl Ives). A melancholy exploration of the insanity of cold war spying (later brilliantly lampooned in the 1972 French TALL BLONDE MAN WITH ONE BLACK SHOE).
Every discussion of the 'folk revival' among those who came to this
music in the 1940's-50's includes Burl Ives and Richard Dyer-Bennet.
Thier influence on the revival is imo likely the equal of the Harry Smith Anthology.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: DougR
Date: 25 Mar 09 - 02:22 PM

News Flash:DougR was transported to a nearby hospital early today by para-medics. They were summoned to his home by his wife who feared he had suffered a heart attack. When "R" recovered he admitted to hospital attendants that Don Firth's agreement with him on a subject triggered the attack. He is back home now resting up from his ordeal."
:>)
DougR


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Don Firth
Date: 25 Mar 09 - 03:17 PM

:-O   Jeez!

I'm really sorry about that, Doug!

I'll try not to let it happen again. . . .    ;-D

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: DougR
Date: 25 Mar 09 - 03:41 PM

I'm relatively sure it won't, Don
:>)
DougR


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 25 Mar 09 - 04:58 PM

Though it's hinted in some of the posts above, I don't think most people recognize just how influential Burl was in the folk music revival. I've never been a strong defender of Ives, but it has to be recognized that he was the kingpin of folk at a crucial time around 1950.

The following is off the top of my head but generally accurate, I think.

He arrived in New York in the late 1930s and began recording on 78 rpm records, but the folk music breakout didn't happen until LPs and 45s came in c. 1950, and then Burl Ives records went over bigger than anyone's, even the Weavers with their early hit singles before they were blacklisted. He had numerous albums out on Decca and Columbia, and they had staying power, though though his first (and I think best) LP on Stinson never sold much. He must have had ten times the circulation of any other folk singer.

The blacklist is partly to blame for this (and yes, Ives must shoulder his share of the blame there). Not to take away in the least from the greatness of Pete Seeger, but due to the blacklist Pete and the Weavers, despite some great 1950-51 hits, did not have their greatest influence until after 1955. Singers who did keep working in those years, such as Susan Reed, Josh White, Dyer-Bennett, John Jacob Niles and Carl Sandburg, had their share of the market, but were left in the dust by Ives' mass sales and wider outreach.

So from 1950 to 1955 American folk music, to most people, meant Burl Ives, and folk singers then were expected to know "Burl Ives songs," for he had made them the standards. Here are just a few of the many songs he was the first to popularize and spread around widely:
Lavender Blue
Billy Boy
The Blue Tail Fly
Frog Went a-Courtin'
Cowboy's Lament (Streets of Laredo)
Little Mohee
Riddle Song
Paper of Pins
Sourwood Mountain
Barb'ry Allen (his spelling)
Lord Randall
Aunt Rhody
Old Blue
Down in the Valley
Lolly-Too-Dum
Careless Love
Erie Canal
Sweet Betsy From Pike
On Top of Old Smoky
Springfield Mountain
and of course his theme song Wayfaring Stranger.

Plus two genres that were great favorites of his: sea songs, and Irish songs. He published books of both, and they were featured strongly in his recordings and concerts. Sea songs included Blow the Man Down, Shenandoah, Drunken Sailor, Hullabaloo Belay, High Barbaree, Henry Martin, Golden Vanity and Haul Away Joe among many others.

Among his early Irish songs were Molly Malone, Foggy Foggy Dew,I Know My Love, I Know Where I'm Goin', The Praties They Grow Small, and Brennan on the Moor, but he later widened this part of his repertoire to include many more.

With his mellow voice and gentle manner he was perfect for the radio and TV programs of the time, one of the few who got wide circulation there.

A combination of circumstances led to his eclipse as a folk singer after 1955.

1. He put in much more time as an actor on stage and in Hollywood as that became his primary career.

2. He began recording non-folk songs -- light country, pop, novelty, etc.

3. He lost the allegiance of many in the folk community for his apostasy in naming names for HUAC.   

4. The folk boom he'd helped start brought along numerous new singers who became famous in their own right. (Including Pete Seeger, who heroically overcame the blacklist by creating a brushfire career not based in the entertainment industry but in college, public hall, and local performances.)

For those few years, though, as far as the wider public was concerned, Burl Ives WAS Mr. Folk Singer. That's a chapter in folk music history that isn't often recalled and should be. In fact he was so widely influential that a whole generation of kids growing up then had to consciously separate themselves from his influence -- just as happened with the "Little Seegers" and "Little Guthries" and "Little Baezes" later.

He's a towering figure who's been lost in the mill of later folksong history.

Bob


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Thomas Stern
Date: 25 Mar 09 - 08:18 PM

The first BURL IVES folk album was the 1941 OKEH "Wayfaring Stranger" which has been in print continually since then, on Columbia 78s, then 10" LP, then 12" LP, then CD (Collectables).
The ASCH/Stinson album "The Wayfaring Stranger" from 1944 has similarly been readily available.
From the number of times I've seen it on eBay and other sources, I think the Stinson must have sold large numbers.
An excellent album of folk songs appeared c.1959, after many of pop material issued by United Artists "BALLADS with guitar" - worth seeking.
A few years ago, a 4-CD set "PHILCO's Friendly Troubadour" from his 1946-47 radio programme was issued by ECHO, readily available from the ususal sources - very interesting material.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Don Firth
Date: 25 Mar 09 - 09:07 PM

Yeah, Doug, you're more than likely right about tha— !!

Oops! Sorry!   (Are you okay!??)

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: GUEST,Brian_Reese
Date: 25 Mar 09 - 10:54 PM

Woody Guthrie said: "Burl sings like he was born in lace drawers."


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 04:44 AM

The Guthrie quote is interesting.

As a child I frequently heard (and then learned) Ives's version of "Big Rock Candy Mountain", as it was a popular play on UK radio in the 50s. It was only when I heard the original recorded version (the artist's name escapes me for the moment) that I realised how much had been lost in the Ives version - which I now look on as almost a parody.

But there's no denying his influence at the time.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: DougR
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 07:58 PM

I barely recovered, Don.

DougR


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: JJ
Date: 27 Mar 09 - 07:56 AM

Somewhere around here I still have the Burl Ives Columbia 45 (yellow label) with Little White Duck b/w Fooba Wooba John.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Skivee
Date: 20 Aug 09 - 01:26 AM

FYI I went down to the Library of Congress today and restrung Mr. Ives Hauser guitar. (strings donated by the House of Musical Traditions.)
I made sure to play some songs by folks hurt in the HUAC hearings in the process of bringing the strings up to pitch.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 20 Aug 09 - 02:28 AM

I interviwed Burl Ives for The Guardian [London & Manchester] of 7 Sep 1977 when he was over here for the Brighton Folk Festival, and found him one of the most charming, modest and co-operative of all my interviewees. One of the things he said in answer to one of my questions was, "I don't regard myself predominantly as a singer or an actor; I believe that actors regard me as a singer and singers as an actor." I also wrote his obit for the same paper some years later [15 April 1995], in which I quoted his story in Wayfaring Stranger of his dutiful visits to the Met Opera during his early days in NY: "One day while standing through a Wagnerian opera, the Almighty sent a ray of light through my skull, and I realised, 'This stinks'."


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 20 Aug 09 - 02:41 AM

In fact, at the risk of appearing vain, I quote the end of my obit below, as it is not easy to access now, and it is a judgment which I would stand by and I believe has something to contribute to this thread: "A certain penchant for 'soupiness' [a word his own father had used of Ives's ventures into a more pop sort of music] persisted as an aspect of Burl Ives's work, especially later in his career, when the revival work of men like Ives, Josh White and Richard Dyer Bennett in the US and Elton Hayes in Britain, was superseded by the more energetic - and politicised - American singing of the likes of Pete Seeger, and the more authentic (and politicised) British singing of Ewan MacColl and A L Lloyd. Folk music eventually overtook Burl Ives and left him far behind. But his name remains one that folk people continue nevertheless peculiarly to honour." {The Guardian, 15 April 1995}


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Howard Jones
Date: 20 Aug 09 - 04:20 AM

Like many of my generation, grew up listening to Burl Ives on the radio with songs like "Big Rock Candy Mountain".

It was his book of Australian folk songs which led me into folk music. I had just learned a few chords on guitar, but pop music had gone all psychedelic and I couldn't play the latest hits. I found this book in my local music shop which had songs I could play.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Stringsinger
Date: 20 Aug 09 - 09:34 AM

Burl Ives could really sing. He also was faithful to the traditions of the songs he sang.
He did some damage with the HUAC.

There are so many fine performers who have questionable personal backgrounds
that range from ego aggrandizement to destruction of their lives and others.
It comes with the territory.

Burl Ives was an important model for young people who are picking up folk songs to re-interpret them for the public.

1. He could really sing in a powerful but sweet tenor voice.
2. He was a commanding entertainer who could elicit many encores.
3. He enlarged his talent as a fine actor. (Cat On A Hot Tin Roof)
4. He was versatile in his ability as a singer.

Woody's comment (if it is really true) belies his close association with Burl at the
beginning of both of their careers.

Burl's capitulation to the fascist HUAC is lamentable.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Skivee
Date: 20 Aug 09 - 11:52 AM

It may easily seem that I was tarring Mr. Ives. He was an enormous talent, and was responsible for getting lots of folks interested in folk music.
We like to think that we all would make the right chioce in that situation, but that isn't what happens in the real world. The villans of the piece were HUAC members. Everybody else were victims, including Burl.
My tune choices were just an exersize in guitar karma balancing.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Arkie
Date: 20 Aug 09 - 01:59 PM

I think my lifelong preference for folk music is due in large part to Burl Ives. Though my family could and did listen to all types of music shows on radio Burl Ives was always a favorite and my first exposure to folk songs. As a consequence one of the first lps I ever purchased was Burl Ives' Wayfaring Stranger. I took it off to college and it would draw the interest of other students whenever I played it. Many of the songs first heard on that record are still among my favorites. Ives was also one the main reasons I developed an interest in guitar. I still have that original lp now converted to CD and several other Burl Ives recordings as well. Folk music was a major focus of my life since childhood and I was fortunate to spend over 30 years before retirement in a field where folk, traditional, and historical music was a major focus. I am truly indebted to Burl Ives for opening a world before me.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Stringsinger
Date: 21 Aug 09 - 10:47 AM

Burl Ives was not a victim but a contributor to the goals of the HUAC. To say otherwise
is revisionist history.

. Still there was a choice
to enable it as we are now doing the the Insurance Mafia who bleeds the American people
through Private Taxation.

The idea that performers are not able to be responsible citizens and are just "victimized"
is risible.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: The Sandman
Date: 21 Aug 09 - 11:20 AM

the American government of the time were to blame.
Burl does not come out of it well,but he should not have been put in that position.
why did the American government need to have a witch hunt?


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 21 Aug 09 - 11:23 AM

Putting his politics aside, it should be recognized that Burl Ives, for all practical purposes, invented the commercial music niche that's called Folk Music. Without Ives, there probably wouldn't have been a folk revival in the US.

If you haven't heard his singing, or haven't recently, I strongly urge you to give a listen to his first two albums, now available on CD: The Wayfaring Stranger and Return of the Wayfaring Stranger


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Art Thieme
Date: 21 Aug 09 - 11:34 AM

I first became a fan of Mr. Ives when I heard that been caught in a girl's dorm, and after hours, at Eastern Illinois University---for which he was summarily tossed out of that school.

Art Thieme
Peru, Illinois


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: The Sandman
Date: 21 Aug 09 - 11:49 AM

but was he any more important than Bascam Lunsford.
ives testifying made it extremely difficult for performers like Seeger and others to popularise the music,so he hardly needs thanking for that.
if Ives hadnt testified,others would have been free to popularise the music,IVES was looking after his own interests,and ensuring other artists did not get work.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Arkie
Date: 21 Aug 09 - 12:22 PM

Lunsford certainly was an important figure in drawing interest to folk music. Ives had radio and a recording contract with a major label available and reached a wider audience than Lunsford. But I do not know why one needs to argue which was more significant. Both made great contributions toward continuing interest in folk music in different ways when its natural channels were fading.

Ives testimony before HUAC is a dark spot on a valuable legacy,and while everyone in this forum would like to think they would have chosen a higher path these things are not known until placed in the same situation. People's responses are generally the result of many factors and in some cases people regret their actions and pay a dear price for their weakness. I have tried to live an honorable and responsible life but there are things I wish I could take back and actions and words I will always regret. I could not say I am a better person than Mr. Ives because fewer people know about my indiscretion or thoughtlessness.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: The Sandman
Date: 21 Aug 09 - 12:25 PM

ok Arkie,
but the net result of Ives stool pigeoning whether intentional or otherwise,was that Seeger and others didnt get a chance to popularise the music but Ives did.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Don Firth
Date: 21 Aug 09 - 12:41 PM

". . . Ives was looking after his own interests, and ensuring other artists did not get work."

Since it's impossible to really know someone's motivations (especially for something that happened around sixty years ago), I don't think one can say that with any certainty. It's my understanding that Burl Ives was one of the first entertainers that HUAC called to testify. He may very well have been a bit intimidated (how would you feel if you were hauled up in front of a Congressional committee and interrogated?) and did not yet know how others (such as Seeger) were going to respond. Had he testified after Seeger and had his example to go on, he may very well have told the committee to take it and stuff it. About all one can honestly make of that was that Seeger was more politically aware and concerned, and on that basis, had a bit more steel in his spine than Ives did.

Monday morning quarterbacking is easy, especially if the Monday in question was six decades ago. I don't know what was in Burl Ives' mind at the time and neither does anyone else. Hence, although I deplore the fact that he cooperated with the committee, I reserve judgment as to Ives' motives and character.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: The Sandman
Date: 21 Aug 09 - 01:11 PM

yes, but the net result was,IVES,got achance to popularise the music, others because of his testifying did not,therefore we should be careful in praising him for popularising the music.
he was chosen because he had testified,others were not chosen because they were named by him,those are FACTS.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 21 Aug 09 - 01:30 PM

Bascom Lunsford, respected and admired and influential as he was in USA, in no way comparable to Burl Ives for public profile and as a populariser. He is no sort of name to conjure with here in the UK, and refs to him do not have any impact here.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: The Sandman
Date: 21 Aug 09 - 02:01 PM

MGM ,but that does not make his work less important.
I would now rather listen to Lunsfords collections than some of IVES Syrup
as I keep trying to say,Ives became a populariser,because of his actions,other people could not work, Ives could,why?because he testified.
IVES was talented,but he had opportunities denied to others, WHY?
we should remember all the people who were denied work because of IVES and others,remember Robeson and Seeger.
WHY did the real villans the AMERICAN GOVERNMENT feel it was necessary to have awitch hunt?can I have an answer please?


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Arkie
Date: 21 Aug 09 - 02:17 PM

I do not know what type of documentation exists for Ive's motives in his testimony before HUAC. Nor do I have any documentation regarding who was on the HUAC list but I would suspect that if Ives were called to testify, that HUAC already had a list of his associates and that anyone he named would eventually be called to testify whether or not they were named by Ives. My memory is a bit foggy about the McCarthy years but I think that Burl Ives was already well known and had been broadcasting on radio before his testimony. There is no doubt that Pete Seeger's music career suffered due to McCarthy and I do admire his stand before that terrible committee. And speaking of terrible, the country eventually came to its sense and McCarthy was censured. Now here in the 21st century that same mentality has surfaced again and gone mainstream. Witness Fox news.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: The Sandman
Date: 21 Aug 09 - 02:21 PM

pete seegers career suffered is that not an understatement.
how many years was it?


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: GUEST,pattyClink
Date: 21 Aug 09 - 02:32 PM

We look back through our perfect rearview mirror to see how people were blacklisted for decades. Did the people who testified know at the time that this would happen?


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: MissouriMud
Date: 21 Aug 09 - 02:58 PM

Burl Ives was the first professional folk music influence in my life in the early and mid fifties.   Due to the blacklisting he may have been the only commercially available option at the time. My parents (good republicans) bought a 10 inch 78 rpm record of his ballads in the early 50's which I basically memorized. Later as I entered the Folk Explosion of the late 50's early 60's his Song Book was one of my basic references, although I considered him pretty passé as a folk singer by then - more of a pop/tv/movie personality.   The simplicity of his songs and guitar style made his songs very approachable, although I always thought his voice was a bit to syrupy for "folk" (probably because my own wasn't).   

With respect to his testimony and naming names during the hearings in 1952 I must confess to being confused.   It is well established that he cooperated sufficiently with the SISS (as best I can tell he never testified in front of the HUAC) to have his own blacklisting lifted. However, I am unclear exactly how far he went.

I have yet to find a transcript of or even a detailed account of his testimony on the web, although it appears the Government Printing Office published it.   The second hand references on the web, which are numerous, are widely divergent with some saying that he didn't name Pete Seeger or the Weavers, and some saying he did name at least Seeger along with several others (possibly hundreds).   This should be a matter of record.   It is one thing to accuse him of not being courageous (as some were) in order to save his economic skin.   However before I tar him for actually naming names and ruining individuals' livelihoods, I'd like to see an authoritative source such as an actual transcript or something that quotes extensively from it. Does anyone have a web, or other readily available, reference for such a source?


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: The Sandman
Date: 21 Aug 09 - 03:40 PM

from what I have read,IVES, later ,regretted what he did,and did a performance with Seeger
I thought I read that Seeger had in the fifties referred to him as that stool pigeon.Seeger would hardly have done so if Ives had not named names
Ives was a talented musican, singer, actor.why dont you google pete seeger, ives and HUAC.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Don Firth
Date: 21 Aug 09 - 04:12 PM

From Wikipedia:
In 1940 Ives began his own radio show, titled The Wayfaring Stranger after one of his ballads. The show was very popular. In the 1940s he popularized several traditional folk songs, such as Lavender Blue (his first hit, a folk song from the 17th century), Foggy Foggy Dew (an English/Irish folk song), Blue Tail Fly (an old Civil War tune) and Big Rock Candy Mountain (an old hobo ditty).

In early 1942 Ives was drafted by the military and spent time first at Camp Dix, then at Camp Upton, where he joined the cast of Irving Berlin's This Is the Army [It is my understanding that Burl Ives was singing at the Village Vanguard at the time he was drafted and asked Richard Dyer-Bennet to take over for him when he left for the Army -- DF]. When the show went to Hollywood, he was transferred to the Army Air Force. He was discharged honorably, apparently for medical reasons, in September 1943. Between September and December 1943, Ives lived in California with actor Harry Morgan (who would later go on to play Colonel Sherman T. Potter on M*A*S*H). In December 1943, Ives returned to New York City and went to work again for CBS radio for $100 a week.

On December 6, 1945, Ives married 29-year-old script writer Helen Peck Ehrlich.[10] The next year, Ives was cast as a singing cowboy in the film Smoky. Their son (Alexander) was born in 1949.
* * * *
Ives was identified in the infamous 1950 pamphlet "Red Channels" and blacklisted as an entertainer with supposed Communist ties. In 1952, he cooperated with the House Unamerican Activities Committee, or HUAC, and volunteered to testify. He stated that he was not a member of the Communist Party and had attended various union meetings with fellow folk singer Pete Seeger in order to simply stay in touch with working folk. He stated: "You know who my friends are;   you will have to ask THEM if they are Communists."
####

As to the importance of Burl Ives as an initiator of the revival of interest in folk music in the United States:

Having lived through that period myself (in fact, that's when I became actively interested in folk music), I have a bit of perspective on it. Indeed, Burl Ives was probably the first singer of folk songs that most city people heard. When I was in my very early 'teens, I often listened to his radio program, The Wayfaring Stranger in the 1940s (Sunday afternoons as I recall), on which he talked about particular aspects of American history (e.g., the building of the Erie Canal) and sang songs related to them.

Although she faded into obscurity as interest in folk music increased in the late 1950s, if you were to ask most people if they could name a female folk singer, the name you probably would have heard was Susan Reed. She appeared in a movie in 1948 (Glamour Girl—grade B movie at best, but lots of good singing by Susan), and was on both radio and television. Lovely, sweet voice accompanied by Irish harp or zither. The whole folk revival seemed to pass her by, and the last I heard, she was running an antique shop on Long Island.

BIG influence around the turn of the decade (end of the Forties, beginning of the Fifties) were The Weavers. The first time I heard them was on juke boxes about the time I graduated from high school. "Goodnight Irene," "On Top of Old Smoky," "Wimoweh," "The Frozen Logger," and others—before they suddenly disappeared, to re-emerge a few years later in their spectacularly successful Carnegie Hall concert. But—before they vanished (temporarily), they were on the top of the Hit Parade:   a lot of radio play on pop music stations.

Next big name to arise was Harry Belafonte. Immensely popular. I saw one of his concerts in 1956 in the Denver University football stadium. The place was packed.

My particular active interest was sparked in 1952 by Claire Hess, a young woman I was dating at the time. She had a roommate at the University of Washington's Women's Residence Halls who was from Chicago and who played the banjo and sang a batch of folk songs, some of which she'd learned from her father, and some from Carl Sandburg's "American Songbag." About that time, Claire heard Walt Robertson sing at a party, and was enthralled by the songs he sang. Claire's grandmother gave her her old George Washburn parlor guitar ("Ladies Model" 1898) and a delighted Claire set about teaching herself to play it and began learning songs from her roommate and from John and Sylvia Kolb's paperback, "A Treasury of Folk Songs." I bought a cheap guitar and Claire showed me my first chords.

Then, she and I attended an informal concert by Walt Robertson. I have written about this in detail elsewhere:    CLICKY.   That evening was a definite turning point in my life.

Walt's interest in folk music developed when he was attending Haverford College in Pennsylvania in the late 1940s. He took in the folk festivals at Swarthmore College about a mile and a half down the road, and there he heard—and met—John and Alan Lomax, Lead Belly, Richard Dyer-Bennet, Susan Reed, Pete Seeger, John Jacob Niles, Woody Guthrie, Josh White, Jean Ritchie. . . .

Walt brought his talent and his enthusiasm back to Seattle, and several people caught the bug here. The late Sandy Paton was one. Lesser known names were Dick Landberg, Bob Clark, Mike Reedy, Patti McLaughlin—Claire and me, and many, many others. Bob (Deckman) Nelson took a slightly different route, catching the bug from a fellow named Bill Higley (who knew Haywire Mac McClintock). And just by following our own inclinations, each of us gave the bug to others.

This would have happened with or without Burl Ives.

And I'll bet that a very similar scenario took place in most other American cities at about the same time.

By the time the Kingston Trio came along in 1958, they were "Johnnie-Come-Latelys." Although a lot of people trace their interest in folk music to them, the KT were surfing on a wave that had started long before they came along.

Burl Ives was one of the first mass media (radio) singers of folk songs that most Americans had heard, or heard of, but—was he primarily responsible for the folk music revival in the United States? I don't think so. As I just said, I'm sure it would have happened anyway.

Besides, as the folk music revival got under way in the U. S. in the Fifties, he tended to move away from folk music and sing a lot of lightweight stuff like "Little White Duck," "Little Bitty Tear," and "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer." He became better known as an actor. And a damned fine one at that!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Arkie
Date: 21 Aug 09 - 05:11 PM

Don thanks for that post. When I stop to think about it, while stories abound about Burl Ives testimony I have yet to see any documentation of his actual statement. What was the source of the Ives' quotation you provided above?

I would agree that Ives influence on the revival of interest in folk music was marginal at best. What he did do is provide a source for folk music at a time when there were few others singing folk songs on major media. He influenced others, such as me, to learn guitar and among the first songs I learned were songs from Burl Ives Wayfaring Stranger Lp and his songbook. When the revival finally began, I recognized that I was hearing music related to that which I had heard from Burl Ives. I had far less interest in his more commercial phase but did admire him as an actor.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: MissouriMud
Date: 21 Aug 09 - 05:32 PM

Good Soldier - Thanks,
I have done that, (and it wasnt the HUAC unless the formal citations to his testimony are wrong, it was the SISS) - I get the citations on the web but I dont get to the transcript itself - just the mish mash of second hand statements (repeated and perpetuated via sites like Wikipedia) that I mentioned in my prior post, including at least one that says he didnt name Seeger.   I too question that comment in light of so many contrary statements, but frankly I don't believe much of what I read on the internet, particularly if there is an actual indisputable source of this material - ie the transcript. I love Pete Seeger- but I'm not willing to accept everything Pete or anyone else says as gospel. I'd like to see what Burl testified to and make up my own mind about how bad it was.

Don - I appreciate the Wikipedia reference, which I had already seen. I dont have 100% confidence in Wikipedia as a source. It has a nice footnote cite to the transcript but does not directly quote the transcript. There are contrary views on the web - the musicianguide site bio of Burl claims he didn't finger Pete. Not that I place much credence in that.
http://www.musicianguide.com/biographies/1608000249/Burl-Ives.html#ixzz0Or0pZQT8

Being a lawyer I kind of like to see the exact testimony, not someone interpretation of it. I seem to recall a few years ago someone here saying that they had actually seen the transcript. I just want to read it myself - or at least have the "naming names" part quoted. It would seem to be a fairly simple thing.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Skivee
Date: 21 Aug 09 - 05:58 PM

**Correcting my mistake**
According to the Library of Congress, it was the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee that he testified before, Not HUAC. Though they were cut from the same cloth, they were different entities.
I regret the inaccuracy.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Don Firth
Date: 21 Aug 09 - 06:35 PM

Yes, the (alleged) quote from Burl Ives about his not naming names ("You know who my friends are. You will have to ask them if they are Communists.") came from the Wikipedia entry.

I, too, do not take Wikipedia as a completely authoritative source, especially in controversial matters, but at least it purports to be a direct quote. That's more than anything else I've read. Or heard. I would have to have some verification before I would accept it as true—just as I would like some verification from those who simply accuse Ives of "ratting on his friends for selfish motives." That seems rather simplistic, speculative, and not just a little mean-spirited.

If I don't know for certain, rather than condemning someone out of hand for something they supposedly did (remembering that as the fish story gets told again and again, the eight-inch trout fairly quickly turns into Moby Dick), I'd rather give them the benefit of the doubt.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: The Sandman
Date: 21 Aug 09 - 08:55 PM

the American government,are the people who must really take the blame,if they had not pressurised Ives,he would not have testified.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: GUEST,Jack Warshaw
Date: 20 Nov 09 - 01:49 PM

I instinctively disliked Ives' sweet sanitised versions of good songs and deplored the obvious avoidance of anything socially or politically controversial in his repertoire. If he was a HUAC stool pigeon in 1952 any rationalisation doesn't matter, only the lasting harm to his colleagues. But if all embracing Pete decided to overlook the deed in 1993, well that counts for much in my book.
Jack Warshaw


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: GUEST,The Folk E
Date: 20 Nov 09 - 03:23 PM

"I instinctively disliked Ives' sweet sanitised versions of good songs and deplored the obvious avoidance of anything socially or politically controversial in his repertoire."

And I deplore that for you it's not about the music but your own agendas. Believe me, it's this kind of attitude that has reduced the status of folk music.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Stringsinger
Date: 20 Nov 09 - 03:49 PM

One of Burl's first movies was called "Smoky". It was about a horse (on top of)......
I was sold on him a performer then.

I think Ives was gullible and believed the HUAC as did Josh White also. Josh probably had his life threatened. A black man at that time was not treated fairly. Both named names.

Ives was a skilled and trained singer, something not usually accepted in the "folkie" crowd.
The "folkies" in the Fifties said the same derogatory thing about the singing of Richard Dyer-Bennet and joked about his rendition of John Henry.

Today, raspy voices and moaning and groaning are in vogue. That's more affected.

Aside from his unfortunate appearance before HUAC, Ives made the public conscious
of folk music before the Kingston Trio ever thought of doing that.

He was a consummate concert artist.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Deckman
Date: 20 Nov 09 - 04:35 PM

I completly agree, Frank.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 20 Nov 09 - 05:53 PM

Burl Ives was probably the performer on the first folk albums that were played in our house during my childhood. We kids soaked in the words to songs that Dad was learning, and we soaked up the words to songs on records he was listening to. And since many of the first songs he performed, at least around the house, were from Ives' records or song books, it's all a blur together and I have to say that hearing Ives sing brings a visceral pleasurable response.

It was much later that I realized he was also a very good actor. A nice bonus.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Joe Offer
Date: 20 Nov 09 - 05:54 PM

The Wikipedia article is quite well-documented. For the "You know who my friends are. You will have to ask them if they are Communists." quote, the citation is Testimony of Burl Icle Ives, New York, N.Y. [on May 20, 1952]," Hearings before the Subcommittee to Investigate the Administration of the Internal Security Act and Other Internal Security Laws of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, Eighty-Second Congress, Second Session on Subversive Infiltration of Radio, Television, and the Entertainment Industry. Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1952. Part 2, pp. 205–228


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Don Firth
Date: 20 Nov 09 - 08:51 PM

Wow! Thanks, Joe!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Little Hawk
Date: 20 Nov 09 - 11:31 PM

Politics is the Great Divider. It sets many good people against each other and destroys many lives and careers.

Music is the Great Uniter.

I will always remember Burl Ives for the tremendous contribution he made to folk music, and not for the political squabbles that arose during the HUAC witchhunts. I will also remember him for the great acting he did in movies like "Cat On a Hot Tin Roof", "The Big Country", and "Let No Man Write My Epitaph".


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: GUEST,Katharine Bruce in Winnipeg
Date: 14 Jan 11 - 01:08 PM

I met Burl Ives in 1966, he was doing a movie in Alberta Canada, staying at Num Tih Jah Lodge, near Lake Louise. I'd just arrived to be a waitress for the summer, my first time away from home, my first job, he was the first person I waited on. NO ONE could have eaten more than he did at that breakfast, no one could have been kinder.
He worked on the movie all day and entertained anyone who wanted to hang out in the evening. When his son, Alex arrived I was invited to go with them exploring. Alex was on his way to England to go to school, he promised to write. I'd love to reconnect with him now and get his story.

If anyone knows where Alex lives now please let me know.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: voyager
Date: 14 Jan 11 - 03:25 PM

To me 'Big Daddy' in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is the persistent image of Burl Ives (folk singer, actor, political provocateur) -

"What's that smell in this room? Didn't you notice it, Brick? Didn't you notice the powerful and obnoxious odor of mendacity in this room?"

voyager


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Charley Noble
Date: 14 Jan 11 - 03:39 PM

Here's a link to a Life Magazine (July 2, 1945, p. 82) photo essay of Burl Ives' farewell party to New York City aboard his houseboat "Water Gypsy": click here for website

The link will take you to a website you can find article above by searching for "Burl Ives."

Looked like quite a party.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: GUEST,WireHarp
Date: 14 Jan 11 - 04:24 PM

How could all this discussion take place without a single mention of the epic "Bermuda Depths"???? After all he IS done in by a giant
turtle.


RWM


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: GUEST,Irish Guest
Date: 15 Jan 11 - 07:51 AM

It was marvellous to read all this lore concerning Burl Ives, a great favourite and influence since I saw/heard him in Cork many, many years ago.
I copied his LP of Irish songs to Cassette and still have it. I am half afraid to convert it to CD in case something goes wrong :)


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: voyager
Date: 15 Jan 11 - 10:40 AM

Burl Ives - Water Gypsy Party (Life Magazine July, 1945)


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Charley Noble
Date: 15 Jan 11 - 10:54 AM

Yoyager-

Thanks for posting the direct link above to Burl's incredible houseboat party. I'm not sure what happened to my link but it certainly didn't take folks there directly.

Burl certainly had a great time singing and dancing with his friends, pouring beer on their faces while they were dozing away, or in another case down the pants of one young lady!

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: EBarnacle
Date: 15 Jan 11 - 12:07 PM

In addition, his sailboat was a converted navy whaleboat. I remember an article about in in one of [now gone] boating magazines.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 16 Jan 11 - 08:51 AM

Fascinating discussion, with many things I never knew.

It bears reiterating that, with Burl Ives, it was the *songs.* Burl had an instinctive feel for a good song, and drawing on his grandmother's repertoire, his adolescent listening to early country music radio shows, fellow singers, and the work of folklorists, came up with a core repertoire of traditional songs (and a few that were non-traditional) that were a revelation to people living in the 1940s and 50s, most of whom had heard very little of that sort.

It's hard to realize now, but he made tons of songs into folk standards that till then had been barely heard of by the wider US listening public. Lavender Blue. Colorado Trail. Aunt Rhody. Riddle Song. Sourwood Mountain. etc.

To pick an example: Blue Tail Fly, until he began circulating it, was an obscure minstrel-derived song; to the best of my knowledge it was almost completely unknown. He made it an American standard, one of those songs just about anybody could hum, almost as widely familiar in the national heritage as the "songbook songs" like I've Been Workin' On the Railroad or Polly Wolly Doodle.

And he did this for song after song ... 40, 50, 60 of the folksongs now best known. In about ten to fifteen years he took all those obscure songs, known only to folklorists or printed in not widely known books, and built them into a good part of the standard American folksong repertoire.

More: he put folksongs themselves in the limelight at a time when few, other than the traditional people, knew them. Before Burl there was no mass-recognized folksong repertoire to speak of. For the wider public, not reached by the other folksingers nor by the folklorists, he, more than anyone else, created it.

That's his enduring achievement.

Bob


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Don Firth
Date: 16 Jan 11 - 02:46 PM

Amen to that, Bob!

When I first took up the guitar and started singing folk songs back in 1952, it was hard to avoid singing folk songs that were not already in Burl Ives' repertoire. Some of which I already more or less knew before I got interested in singing them myself.

When I first went to Campus Music and Gallery in Seattle's University District looking for records to learn songs from, the folk music bin was pretty sparse. All 10" LPs. There was one by Pete Seeger (whom I had never heard of before - his "Darling Corey" album on Folkways), one Richard Dyer-Bennet (a high school friend of mine had one of his records - I thought he sounded like an old English minstrel), one Susan Reed (I had heard her on the radio and saw her in a movie in 1948), and three by Burl Ives, with whom I had been familiar since I first heard him on the radio in the mid-1940s.

Despite my limited college student budget, I bought them all.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: GUEST,Banjer
Date: 17 Jan 11 - 04:50 PM

Woody responded, "He's one angry man!" "What's he so angry about?" he was asked. Woody answered, "He's angry with himself!"

------------------

Don, can you tell me where this quote comes from?


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Don Firth
Date: 17 Jan 11 - 10:16 PM

Banjer, the quote came from a book entitled "Hoot:   a 25-Year History of the Greenwich Village Music Scene." Mostly quotes about various things by singers and other people involved in the scene, along with plenty of photos. Author is Robbie Wolliver (co-owner of Folk City). Well worth owning if you can find a copy.

Speaking of finding a copy, I looked for mine on my bookshelves so I could check the quote exactly, but I couldn't find it. Packed in a box, I think (I hope!).

If I remember right, it was Oscar Brand talking about Woody Guthrie's visit to Burl Ives.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: GUEST,Banjer
Date: 18 Jan 11 - 01:36 PM

Thanks Don, I'll look for a copy.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Charley Noble
Date: 18 Jan 11 - 09:22 PM

There's an interesting PR photo in one of Guthrie's biographies which shows the two of them hanging out together.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: BrooklynJay
Date: 19 Jan 11 - 06:33 AM

Charley, if it's the photo I'm thinking of, it's in Joe Klein's biography in the first section of photos; it was from around 1940 (IIRC) and had them lounging on the ground, with Woody holding a copy of "Hobo News."

And yet, in the book Woody Guthrie Songs, edited by Judy Bell and Nora Guthrie, the photo turns up on p.4 but with Burl Ives cropped out of the picture, the image reversed (Woody certainly did not play a left-handed guitar!) and the "newspaper" PhotoShopped so the printing on it now looks "correct."

A bit revisionist, I think...

Jay


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: GUEST,Desi C
Date: 19 Jan 11 - 08:23 AM

I'm surprised you say he hated Children, where did that come from. I read in Val doonican's recent autobiography that he visited Val's home once, and asked could he go upstairs to say goodnight to Val's two young daughters, a little later Val came up to find him singing Scarlet Ribbons to 2 enthralled little girls. As for being a rebel, I have read he was very unpopular with other musicians for Turning fellow artists in to the McCarthy Communist witchhunt of the 1950! So two very contradictory stories there


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Charley Noble
Date: 19 Jan 11 - 08:31 AM

Jay-

That was exactly the photo I had in mind and I do appreciate your additional comments. Somewhere in that narrative Woody expressed some disdain for Burl Ives as a man who failed to live up to the spirit of what he was singing about. We all have those moments, and so did Woody.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: BrooklynJay
Date: 19 Jan 11 - 02:05 PM

This may be the passage you have in mind. I think the time period would be around 1946, more or less.

From Joe Klein's Woody Guthrie - A Life:

...[T]here was the claustrophobic sense of declining possibilities, the bitter realization that his work was, in all likelihood, doomed to the periphery of the culture...unless he sold out and went commercial like Burl Ives or Josh White, who, he wrote to Moe Asch, were carrying on "strange love affairs" with the bosses. "I have decided long ago that any songs and ballads would not get the hugs and kisses of the capitalist 'experts' simply because I believe that the real folk history of the country finds its center and hub in the fight of the union members against the hired gun thugs of the owners... It's not just a question of you as an artist, selling out and becoming harmless to the owning side. No, you are never actually bought or bribed till they have decided that they can use you in one way or another to rob, to deceive, to blind, to confuse, to misrepresent, or just to harass, worry, bedevil and becloud the path of the militant worker on his long, hard fight from slavery to freedom."


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Charley Noble
Date: 19 Jan 11 - 04:31 PM

Jay-

That's a good passage. I think the one I'm thinking of mentioned "silk underwear."

I should not be so lazy and should dig out the book myself!

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Joe_F
Date: 19 Jan 11 - 06:18 PM

BrooklynJay ("And yet, in the book Woody Guthrie Songs..."): The Soviet Union lives!


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: BrooklynJay
Date: 19 Jan 11 - 08:13 PM

It's been a while since I reread the Klein book - until quite recently. I had forgotten that, for some mysterious reason, my book is a defective factory reject. Thirty pages are missing! (Actually, thirty pages are repeated, with pages missing now because of this duplication.)

Anyway, three early references to Burl Ives are gone because of this.

But, maybe the "silk underwear" comment came from Ed Cray's biography? Though I've read library copies, I don't own a copy of that book so I'm just guessing.

But I'm sure that some knowledgable Mudcatter will ferret out the answer! ;-)

Yeah, someone definitely tinkered with that photo - which is why I will try to read more than one book on a subject if I'm really interested.

Jay


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Charley Noble
Date: 19 Jan 11 - 08:18 PM

Jay-

You've said enough so that I'll have to dig up the Klein book. I know just where it is.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Charley Noble
Date: 20 Jan 11 - 07:59 AM

Jay-

Ah, here's the quote from Woody about Ives, Woody Guthrie, by Joe Klein, p. 139:

"Burl sings like he was born in lace drawers."

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: GUEST,Mountainbanjo
Date: 09 May 11 - 07:32 PM

I have read the transcript of Burl's testimony. It has been blown out of proportion, if you can imagine that. On the extreme end some said he named "hundreds" of people as Communists, and of course everyone knows he pointed the finger at Pete Seeger.

In fact he didn't really name anyone as a Communist. He mentions Pete went to some of the same meetings that he himself went to. That's it as far as Pete goes. That's it, period. When pestered by the witch hunters, he said Richard Dyer Bennett was who first solicited his participation in the Communist Political Association. But without being prompted, he then states that like himself, RD-B had subsequently rejected it.

Then, when pestered by these headhunters, he mentions 3 names of people who were present at some functions-his former publicity man, Allen Meltzer, Ray Ley and Herb Kay. Thats all he says, is that they, like he, were present.

In regards to Mr Meltzer's presence, here is a bit of the transcript.

Mr Connors (Senate Staff member): Is Mr Meltzer a Communist, to the best of your knowledge?
Mr Ives: Well he was there, and I assume he was affiliated.
Mr Connors: Do you have any evidence of his present political affiliations?
Mr Ives: As a matter of fact, I haven't seen him in 3 or 4 years, I have not seen him.

That is as close as he came to any of the things he has been accused of doing in this testimony.

The worst impression I can glean from it is that he may have been scared, maybe even cowardly-certainly he did not put on an admirable or defiant performance like Pete Seeger and Paul Robeson did, respectively. But he was also testifying 3 and 4 year's earlier. No doubt some later testifiers gained strength to be less cooperative from each other, and Burl didn't have the benefit of that. He didn't know what other people were going to say. His was the kind of testimony one might live to regret, because he would have seen in hindsight that he didn't have to cooperate. And it sounds like he did regret it. But there is no evidence in the transcripts that he was out to harm anyone's career or life. He apologizes for mentioning the names he does mention, and says they will have their chance to speak (before the subcommittee). He seems like he was just a bit scared and spineless and trying to be (what he perceived to be ) "a good American" by cooperating. Not admirable, but quite far from how it has been painted.

What is really shameful here is the behavior of the subcommittee in pursuing this line of questioning at all. It is truly disgusting to read in that respect, that any American should have been subjected to this Senate Inquisition about where they were five, six, seven years earlier, what functions they attended, who was there, who invited them, when nobody had committed any crime. It is sickening.

Sorry, its way too long to transcribe. Do what I did if you want to read it, request it from your library's interlibrary loan service.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: GUEST,Bluesman James
Date: 09 May 11 - 08:39 PM

There was an old clip on youtube of Ives singing with Josh White and two other folks. the clip has been taken off (maybe for copyright issues) Shame it was a valuable clip!
I know little of Ives Politics and/or political views.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Charley Noble
Date: 09 May 11 - 09:26 PM

Mountain Banjo-

Interesting. I've never read the transcripts, only excerpts by others.

"he (Ives) said Richard Dyer Bennett (sic) was who first solicited his participation in the Communist Political Association."

Well, that remark was sufficient to derail much of Richard Dyer-Bennet's musical career, being quoted in RED CHANNELS. It's true that during World War 2 Dyer-Bennet provided musical entertainment for Russian War Relief special events; the Russians were our allies at the time. And he also participated in music benefit concerts for progressive labor groups. He certainly supported Henry Wallace in his progressive campaign for President. But he was never a card-carrying Communist.

After the hearings, Burl Ives' career continued on with greater success.

I thought Burl Ives also identified Tony Kraber, actor and folk singer, as either a Communist or fellow traveler.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: GUEST,Bluesman James
Date: 09 May 11 - 09:51 PM

http://www.cduniverse.com/search/xx/music/pid/1055046/a/Free+%26+Equal+Blues.htm

Here is something interesting and relevant to the discussion
Josh White and the"Union Boys" Peter Seeger and Burl Ives identified


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 09 May 11 - 11:05 PM

I had a paperback book by Burl Ives - a collection of folksongs and some tips on guitar playing.

I owe it all to Burl. Thanks to Burl, I knew whether it was a 'dum-ching' song or a 'dum-ching-ching' song,

I was never confused.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 09 May 11 - 11:40 PM

I still have my pb Burl Ives Songbook, Al. Falling to pieces but still regularly refd to ~~ the last time just 3 days ago, when the question of 'piker' as originally a name for a 49-er from Pike County Missouri arose in Quinion's World Wide Words & led me there to look up Sweet Betsy From Pike, which is of course a GoldRush song [note the 'miner' in the last verse] tho Ives does not specify this.

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: GUEST
Date: 10 May 11 - 12:24 AM

His comment didnt derail anyone's career-it was the witch hunters who did that. Ives said RDB had rejected Communism and had also stopped going to the meetings SEVEN or EIGHT YEARS BEFORE THE HEARING DATE! He also said that RDB had started going to the lectures around the same time he did. He never said anything about RDB being a prominent or important member or recruiter. But they didn't care about that. They only heard what they wanted to hear. I'm telling ya, its sick.

I don't recall seeing Tony Kraber's name.

I don't doubt Burl was worried about his own career being ruined by the bloodsuckers, that fear seems to come through in his testimony and it was a well justified fear.
    RDB=Richard Dyer-Bennet


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Charley Noble
Date: 10 May 11 - 07:45 AM

Mountain Banjo-

"His comment didnt derail anyone's career-it was the witch hunters who did that."

Well, I can see how that might look to someone younger than myself and it's partially true. But giving the press coverage of the earlier hearings focused on "Communists" in the movie industry, it should have been clear to Ives what would happen if he mentioned any names as "Communists" or "fellow travelers." Ives was indeed a fine singer and for a while he was a good friend of Dyer-Bennet, Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie.

"The Witch Hunters" who did the follow-up dirty work were a mixture of super-patriots and self-serving professionals. For example my grandfather who was a well-respected sculptor was also identified at the hearings as someone who signed petitions circulated by "Communists" in the 1930's, and one of the groups that circulated his name was a conservative sculptor group based in Washington, DC, whose members were in competition with him for monument projects; my grandfather won all the lawsuits for commissions that he was denied because of their work but we'll never know how much other work he was denied because project directors were not willing to take the risk of considering such a "controversial" artist. The John Birch Society was one of the Witch-Hunt groups.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: GUEST
Date: 10 May 11 - 08:59 AM

You are right Charley, I was not around at that time and so all I can do is try to glean intent and meaning from words on a piece of paper. I'm sure there are subtleties that I cant appreciate, not having lived through that time.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: GUEST,GEC
Date: 17 May 11 - 04:28 PM

In regard to Burl's testimony at the Un-American Activities hearings, I lived through the McCarthy era and here is my opinion.   

Burl was just a true-blue American who was reluctantly, but truthfully -- as a Christian publicly swearing before his leaders -- trying to respond to an official inquiry made by what were in reality much-less-than-true-blue Americans. The problem was that small truths about people were warped into big lies by the government.

The liers were not in the witness stand, they were sitting as the judges.   

Was Burl a snitch? In a prison sense, yes: not because he accused people of illegal activities, but because the process considered the legal activities he described to be somehow worthy of government sanctions. Were some of the other artists around him seriously or not-so-seriously flirting with America's 'potential' enemies, yes -- but it was the Senators and others behind the witch hunt who were the reprehensible ones, and without their errors none of the others would have been so villified. What Ives did and what Seeger did would have been non-news if Senator McCarthy had not been so far off the reservation and in charge of a shameful process. It was really an unbelievable tornado of raw, government-sanctioned, media-hyped injustice.

So, as we look back, let's keep the names of McCarthy's poor victims straight. Burl Ives, the so-called "snitch," and Pete Seeger, the so-called "Communist sympathizer," were both among them, in my opinion. They both have my respect.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Don Firth
Date: 17 May 11 - 05:24 PM

Amen, GEC.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Charley Noble
Date: 17 May 11 - 09:59 PM

GEC-

We may be getting closer to closure on this one. It's still hard for me not to be bitter on behalf of the people I knew who were truly hurt by this witch hunt. I was only ten or so at the time and was just puzzled by what was happening all around to people I knew and respected. It's unsettling when grown-ups appear to be frightened by what their "government" is doing. It wasn't until I got to college that I learned just how this whole witch hunt happened.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: John on the Sunset Coast
Date: 17 May 11 - 10:28 PM

In the interest of historical accuracy, neither Ives, nor Seeger were victims of McCarthy. Both Ives and Seeger were called to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Activities...the same committee that had investigated alleged (and real) Communists in Hollywood.

But they never had any truck with McCarthy. Tail Gunner Joe was a senator whose primary targets were alleged (and real) Communists in government service, and his downfall was going after army personnel.

It is interesting, but erroneous, that although these committees had their genesis prior to McCarthy's tenure, the entire 10 year or so period...separate Senate and House hearings...have become known as the McCarthy Era.

Next to Benedict Arnold, McCarthy is probably the most vilified American personality...not without good reason.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Charley Noble
Date: 18 May 11 - 08:08 AM

John-

You're certainly correct. Sen. McCarthy managed to gain most of the credit for this sorry phase of our history. There were several chairs of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC):

John Stephens Wood, 1949–53
Harold Himmel Velde, 1953–55
Francis Walter, 1955–65

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 18 May 11 - 08:27 AM

very weird business!

You only really get it in fragments over here in England. i've come across references to it in biogs of Humphrey bogart, Josh White, Zero mostel, Paul Robeson, Larry Adler - but i guess a lot of less famous people were involved and suffered as well.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: GUEST,too scared
Date: 18 May 11 - 09:27 PM

Of course Ives was wrong to name names, but listen to what Charlie is saying above. It was not just McCarthy. There were investigations all over. New York City required that teachers and other employees sign loyalty oaths. People lost their jobs and were blacklisted because of rumors and false accusations. I only learned later how frightened my parents had been. They had friends who were falsly accused and also friends who really were communists (idealists). It was dangerous to speak of this in front of children. In the 1970's my mother finally told me about their experiences in the late 1940's and early fifties.
    Lets also remember that the Communist Party actively promoted the singing of folk songs as a way of interesting people in social issues and communism. An interesting recent book is Reds, Whites, and Blues: Social Movements, Folk Music, and Race in the United States, by William G. Roy.
    I dare say that Burl Ives was more influential than the Communist Party in introducing people to folk music, but the Communists did what they could. As a child in the 1940's and fifties I remember "everyone" knew the songs sung by Burl Ives that were cited above.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: GUEST,warren fahey
Date: 18 May 11 - 10:34 PM

Burl toured Australia in the 1950s and was a significant influence on the development of the revival in Australia. To his immense credit he championed Australians looking at their own folk traditions and it seemed to work. He was a big hit in Australia - and big in other ways for he demanded two airplane seats to fit his immense behind. He was the first to popularise Click Go The Shears. I remember hearing him for the first time and still love that fruity old voice.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: GUEST,Page Stephens
Date: 20 Oct 12 - 07:53 PM

You had to have lived through it to understand how accepted anticommunism was in the 1950s and 1960s. Today we tend to look on it as quaint but there was real fear in the air and it took a lot of guts to even work for civil rights. And don't think it's disappeared.
Just look at the tea party signs.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: GUEST,Desi C
Date: 21 Oct 12 - 08:29 AM

I wonder DID ives say he hated children? I only question it because having read Val Doonican's auto biography, who was a huge fan of Ives and when he invited I'ves onto his 70's TV show. Tells how Ives visited his home. Va''s children were fans of Ives songs and Val asked if he'd just pop up and say hello before they went to sleep. half hour later Ivs hadn't returned, val went upstairs onl to find Ives at the foo of the bed singing Ugly Bug ball to the children. So you never kn ow with these quotes, after all Jimmy saville also said the same thing! ;)


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 21 Oct 12 - 12:11 PM

Whatever his politics and moral fiber (or lack of same) Burl Ives was probably personally responsible for the Folk Revival.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Oct 12 - 02:46 PM

Prior to the folk music revival that began to accelerate in the 1950s, I can't think of any other singer of folk songs who was better known to the general public than Burl Ives.

Well before I became actively interested in singing folk songs myself, I was aware of Burl Ives. As a kid, I used to listen to his radio program, "The Wayfaring Stranger," on which he talked about American history and sang songs relating to the historical events he was talking about. The program started in 1940. I was not aware that it had started that early. But I remember listening to it regularly.

Then, when he began appearing in movies, e.g. "Smoky" in 1946, and "The Green Grass of Wyoming" and "So Dear to My Heart" in 1948, as the portly, likeable guitar strumming singer, everybody knew who he was.

In 1952, when I bought my first guitar ($9.95, and it sounded like an apple crate, but it played easily enough) and went looking for records to learn songs from, the folk music bin in Campus Music and Gallery was pretty sparse pickings. But I got one Pete Seeger record, one Richard Dyer-Bennet, one Susan Reed, and three Burl Ives records, all 10" LPs.

I think the folk music revival would have happened anyway, but Burl Ives gave it one helluva jump-start!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Don Firth
Date: 21 Oct 12 - 08:29 PM

Hmm! As indicated at the bottom of the post directly above, that was from me. I did a general shovelling out of extraneous stuff from my computer, and apparently tossed my cookies at the same time.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: GUEST,Don Stevens
Date: 22 Oct 12 - 11:00 AM

To me, Burl Ives was the Greatest Folk Singer, of all. I only got to meet him once, at Pete Seegers', in 1948 (Although I corresponded with him many times, over the years, until he 'passed'). My wife purchased my first Album, in 1949, for my Birthday. It was Burl Ives 'The Wayfaring Stranger'. We have since collected 188 of his Albums, and Videos (many of these in multiple styles, i.e., LP & CD, Cassette & CD , VHS & DVD, etc.)

I think all this political 'crap', is just that. None of that has anything to do with this Wonderful Man - or his Music. There have been many wonderful Music Artists, that I have heard 'bad-mouthed' - usually by some 'no-talented' Jerk. This is the case in many of these 'comments'

Don Stevens


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Stringsinger
Date: 22 Oct 12 - 11:17 AM

This "wonderful man" ratted on his friends in front of the House of UnAmerican Activities Committee in order to save his career.

That said, I also was greatly influenced by his artistry which I find not in dispute.

Not all artists are "wonderful" people in spite of the artistic achievement. What is "crap" is to give them their due as humanitarians or socially aware individuals despite their despicable acts. By contrast, Pete Seeger is both an artist and humanitarian with a highly developed social conscience built on his courage and integrity as a person.

Burl Ives was unquestionably a great singer and performer but I don't know how he could live with himself after jeopardizing other's careers before the chopping block of McCarthyism.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 22 Oct 12 - 12:05 PM

THe deification (and the demonization) of prominent folks is a favorite pastime of the public, whether the subject be Ives, MacColl or Guthrie.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Don Firth
Date: 22 Oct 12 - 01:49 PM

"This 'wonderful man' ratted on his friends in front of the House of UnAmerican Activities Committee in order to save his career."

I rarely disagree with you on most things, Frank, but this is the stock, rubber-stamp rant against Burl Ives. I suggest that you scroll up to

Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From:GUEST,Mountainbanjo - PM
Date: 09 May 11 - 07:32 PM

And read what Mountainbanjo has posted, which, he informs us, was taken from the transcript of Burl Ives' testimony.

That's hardly "ratting on his friends." He didn't tell the committee anything they didn't already know. And when asked if the people in question were Communists, he responded, "You know who my friends are. Ask them."

Sounds fair enough to me.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Stringsinger
Date: 23 Oct 12 - 12:12 PM

sorry Skivee, the real victims were the ones who lost their jobs because they had the integrity to stand up to this Committee. Burl was a sell-out here and even named names to victimize people he knew. You can't white wash this.

Don, he cooperated with the HUAC and that's enough to charge him. He wasn't hurt in his career like so many others such as The Weavers, Pete Seeger, Josh White, and so many actors and writers. I don't understand how you can call this abuse "rubber stamping" and give Burl a pass. I don't care what Mountainbanjo has posted, Burl cooperated and was let off otherwise his career would have taken a nose dive along with so many others who were truly victimized.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Don Firth
Date: 23 Oct 12 - 03:06 PM

Well, mebbe so, Frank, but right from the start (my first active interest in folk music, circa 1952) I've heard some folk music enthusiasts who seemed to feel impelled to take shots at Burl Ives—for no apparent reason other than just because he was well-known, and he was there.

And then, of course, the strangely gleeful trashing of Ives after the Congressional hearings. "Burl Ives 'ratted' on his friends in order to further his own career." But little information on what Ives actually said at those hearings.

The actual transcripts of the hearings tells a story that is considerably different from the one that's so popular with those who seem to take delight in dumping on "Big Daddy."

If you have some authoritative information beyond the usual brief but unsubstantiated accusations, I'm certainly willing to listen.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Don Firth
Date: 23 Oct 12 - 04:29 PM

Burl Ives probably had a more legitimate claim to being a folk singer than most of those city-born singers who learned all of their songs from records (often Burl Ives' records) and song books, who looked down their noses at him.

He was born in a rural town in Jasper County, Illinois. His father was a farmer, later a contractor, and Burl learned his first songs—and ballads—from his grandmother, not from records or song books. And he spent some time wandering the country, making his way by singing (a la Woodie Guthrie), and learning songs from other people as he went.

When he settled down and decided he'd better make a legitimate living, he enrolled in a teachers' college for a short time, then on the advice of others (commenting on his singing voice), he went to New York to study singing at a music conservatory there. I'm quoting myself from something I posted above, here:
Burl Ives' early autobiography, The Wayfaring Stranger (1948), is well worth a read. It's been awhile since I read it, but I particularly remember where he says that he was in New York studying music at a music conservatory and living with a number of other music students. He was studying to be a singer of lieder (art songs), but when he got homesick, he'd take out his guitar and sing some of the songs he had learned from his grandmother. The other students made fun of the songs and mocked him. So one afternoon, he took his guitar to a nearby park. He wasn't thinking of busking or anything like that, he just wanted to sing a bit with no one around but a few pigeons.

It wasn't long before a few children stopped to listen, then more and more people drifted in. Before long he was doing an impromptu concert for a sizable and very appreciative crowd.

He made a decision then. "Why am I killing myself trying to develop a repertoire of songs that are really foreign to me, language and all, when I already have a large repertoire of songs that I've been singing all my life?"

He dropped out of the conservatory and started singing folk songs, and the rest is history.
His singing voice (a light tenor, not unlike Richard Dyer-Bennet's) was cultivated, but he didn't make a fetish of it, and many of the songs he sang he had "tidied up," polishing off some rough edges, which occasionally made some of them a bit "wimpy," and as a guitarist, his playing was dead simple. He was no Segovia, by any means. But his accompaniments, if simple, were at least adequate.

But he was out there, one of the very first to introduce folk music, presented in a simple, straightforward manner, to the general public! And he got a lot of people interested in folk music early on.

If he is, indeed, the Devil, then let's at least give the Devil his due.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 23 Oct 12 - 04:35 PM

Here in the UK, Burl had a number of hits ( Ugly Bug Ball, Little Bitty Tear, for example )some 50 years ago but I was never tempted to "check him out" further.
I'm not at all sure why he didn't catch my imagination.
On the other hand, from the moment that I heard Pete Seeger, I went out of my way to search out his material.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 23 Oct 12 - 05:10 PM

Tunesmith, those were his later records, where his company had, most mistakenly IMO, tried to make him more MOR popular by singing songs which his father had earlier in his career described as 'kinda soupy'. His earlier, traditionally-based, records ~~ The Fox, Aunt Rhody, Careless Love, Blue Tail Fly ... ~~ far more acceptable; and, for that matter, rather more successful. He relates this in his Wayfaring Stranger autobiog; together, as I think I mentioned in an earlier post, with his lack of success in trying to appreciate grand opera ---
in one of his dutiful visits to the Met Opera during his early days in NY: "One day while standing through a Wagnerian opera, the Almighty sent a ray of light through my skull, and I realised, 'This stinks'."

~M~


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Don Firth
Date: 23 Oct 12 - 06:07 PM

Right, M. It was from those early records that I learned the first songs I learned. The first song, "The Fox." This was in 1952.

Then the next song I took a shot at was "Greensleeves," from a Richard Dyer-Bennet record. I also had Dyer-Bennet's folio of twenty songs with the guitar accompaniments written out. Way to hell and gone beyond me, and I quickly discovered that I couldn't sing it in the same key. So back to the Burl Ives records.

And my copy of A Treasury of Folk Songs, compiled by John and Sylvia Kolb (Bantam Books, 35¢).

Then "The Golden Vanity" from Dyer-Bennet, and back to "The Bold Soldier" from The Burl Ives Song Book, followed by "High Barbaree" from the same source.

Lotsa good songs!!

I eventually got "Greensleeves," but I worked out my own accompaniment for it, as ornate as Dyer-Bennet's, but in a different key. But this was after I had taken some classical guitar lessons.

Burl Ives' records were sort of "basic repertoire" early on. And not just for me.

Don Firth

P. S. I can't really agree with Ives about opera. In my middle teens, a friend of mine (actually, one of my fencing instructors) was smitten with opera, then discovered that he had a pretty nice tenor voice. He decided to take singing lessons. He and I and a couple of others used to listen to recordings of operas, and I decided to take some singing lessons from the same teacher. She diagnosed my voice as a low bass-baritone (frog in a rain barrel). But I developed a real liking for opera, and my wife and I are season ticket holders at Seattle Opera.

If I were to try to sing operatic stuff, I'd really smell at it, but I seem to be able to do folk songs and ballads well enough so that some benighted souls are willing to pay to listen to me, and I love the songs, so. . . .

Wagner is pretty heavy going if you're not familiar with opera to begin with, but rather than "stinks," some of it is bloody magnificent!!

Your mileage may vary. . . .


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 23 Oct 12 - 11:58 PM

Oh, no, Don; my mileage doesn't vary. Burl's did! I love opera; in my early teens, would go to the matinée at Sadlers Wells every Saturday, having risen v early for tube ride Golders Green to Angel, to get front of queue when box office opened for amphitheatre seats only bookable on day, then back again for 2.30, till I had heard whole repertoire.

Re your trouble with keys, had nobody taught you the 3-chord trick for transposal of tonic, subdom, dominant, to adjust any song to your own key?

~M~


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: GUEST,999
Date: 24 Oct 12 - 12:25 AM

Little Bitty Tear was a song of his I liked. There was a heart-felt presence on that record. I saved money from my paper route to buy it in the days when 45 rpm's were fifty cents or so. I paid more than 10% of my weekly pay to buy that.

Today, I figure that if Pete Seeger could forgive him, who am I to complain.

When we are all gone--as we shall be--how will we be remembered? Did froggy go a-courtin' or are we waist deep in the big muddy?

HUAC was an abomination. Today, we face much the same thing: the remaining question is one of personal choice. If our music is not beyond that, well, that's a choice. I hope I'll side with the big muddy, but I've made stupid decisions before and the good lord willing I'll make s'more again.

As a btw, it is great to read two masters of their craft parlaying. Now, I'll return to lurking once again.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: GUEST,Beachcomber
Date: 24 Oct 12 - 07:01 AM

It must have been difficult for a man like Frank Hamilton to observe that Burl Ives' career thrived over the years while that of the Weavers, Seeger et al., was virtually halted by the machinations of the HUAC. But I don't think it matters anymore, as regards appreciation of their value to society, not to people like those who populate Mudcat anyway. The songs of the Weavers and their ilk are there on record for all to hear and they will never be forgotten, and neither will Burl Ives.
I, for one, have been listening for some 60 years, on and off..


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 24 Oct 12 - 08:30 AM

MtheGM mentioned that he was turned on to Burl Ives by songs such as "The Fox, Aunt Rhody, Careless Love, Blue Tail Fly".
Well, I must admit that apart from Careless Love I consider the other songs only fit for the under 10s!

Thinking about that, I've always admired - in amazement - Pete Seeger's ability/desire to sing anything and everything that comes under the heading "folk".

I've always had lots of trouble finding material that I would want to sing, but Pete ... and Burl, probably - were happy to sing the A to Z of folksongs.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Stringsinger
Date: 24 Oct 12 - 02:09 PM

"Whatever his politics and moral fiber (or lack of same) Burl Ives was probably personally responsible for the Folk Revival."

I would agree with you, Dick. He was probably my first introduction to folk music.
Maybe next was Josh White and Richard Dyer-Bennet.

As far as his guitar playing being "adequate" that says a lot considering all the guitar hotshots who over arrange their accompaniments. Burl's guitar was appropriate so that the words could come through, his diction being impeccable.

But we have to give Pete Seeger his due as a one man publicity agent for the rise of the Folk Revival, introducing and promoting so many such as Sonny Terry, Leadbelly, along with Alan Lomax, Woody Guthrie, Odetta (yes Pete was there), and many songwriters such as Tom Paxton et. al.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Vic Smith
Date: 24 Oct 12 - 03:16 PM

The Brighton Centre was opened in 1977 and the following September hosted the first and only Brighton Folk Festival with Fred Woods brought in by the Brighton council as the main organiser. The event was a huge financial flop which was paid for out the Brighton rates.
Burl Ives was one of the top names booked for the festival. The outcry by Brighton ratepayers at the amount of money that the festival had cost them was heightened when it was revealed the one of the riders on the Burl Ives contract was that he should travel to Europe for the festival by Concorde.
One of the few events of the festival that was well attended was the dance which I think was in the early evening of the Saturday. Eddie Upton was calling.... would the band have been The Etchinghams or was in the Albion Dance Band by 1978?
Fred Woods was standing at the back of the dance hall with Burl Ives when Eddie started an announcement:-
There's a very important person in the hall today, one of the most important names in folk music.....
Fred starts to push Burl forward towards the stage.
So, I'd like you all to welcome....
Fred starts clapping loudly and Burl walks towards the stage waving to either side.
...... Shirley Collins!
Burl turns around and looks with a hurt and confused expression at Fred.

Later that evening, Burl gives a performance to not many people in the cavernous main auditorium.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Vic Smith
Date: 24 Oct 12 - 03:39 PM

Sorry - wrong date in previous post! It was September 1977 not 1978 as you can read by clicking here


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Don Firth
Date: 24 Oct 12 - 03:55 PM

MtheGM, no, I knew how to transpose early on. But I was trying to read the notation Dyer-Bennet had written for the accompaniment he used for "Greensleeves." I knew right off I couldn't sing it in the key he did (Em). I was trying to figure out how to do what he was doing, but in a different key, Am. Due to the layout of the guitar fingerboard, I'd have to completely rework it if I wanted to do the kind of fiddly bits that he was doing. I eventually did after taking some classical guitar lessons and educating my fingers at bit. I managed to come up with a pretty good arrangement which was all my own. It sounds kind of lute-like, which is what I was after.

####

GUEST,Tunesmith:   " . . . I must admit that apart from Careless Love I consider the other songs [The Fox, Aunt Rhody, Careless Love, Blue Tail Fly] only fit for the under 10s!"

Well, I've been singing for audiences off and on now for somewhat over fifty years, and in addition to the ten-year-olds, adults seem to thoroughly enjoy those songs as much as the kids do.

Except, of course, for some folkies who seem to regard themselves as too serious and sophisticated to get a kick out of children's songs. Not saying that this necessarily applies to you, Tunesmith, but—hey, think about it a bit.

And by the way, "The Blue-Tail Fly" is not exactly a children's song. It has a bit of serious history to it. Have you actually listened to it? It's kinda dark, really.

####

And Frank's comment just above, in his second paragraph regarding Burl Ives' guitar accompaniments:   a friend of mine, also a singer-guitarist, and I were sitting over coffee one day and talking about guitars and guitar accompaniments. We were rattling on when another fellow at the table, who'd just been listening up to that point, interrupted us and asked, "Do you two regard yourselves primarily as singers? Or primarily guitarists?"

Damned good question! I thought about that quite a lot.

I melded this question with a comment made by another friend, who was a picture framer by trade. "If people look at a painting hanging on the wall and go away saying, 'Gee, isn't that a wonderful frame?' then the picture framer blew it! The frame is supposed to set the painting off in space, not overwhelm it!"

It occurred to me that the same principle applies to song accompaniments. If your accompaniment overwhelms the song—you blew it!

KISS*.

Burl Ives may not be a flashy guitarist, but his accompaniments do the job and do it well.

Don Firth

*For those who don't recognize the acronym, it's a good one:   Keep It Simple, Stupid!"

Just because you CAN do something, it doesn't mean you HAVE to.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 24 Oct 12 - 04:59 PM

Vic Smith ~~ Romantic tale, about Burl singing in 'cavernous hall to not many people' at Brighton 1977. Were you there? I recall standing-room only. Colin Irwin & I interviewed Burl next day at the Grand Hotel [then still standing, before the IRA had their bit of fun a few years later], Colin for Melody Maker & I for The Guardian; he was perfectly happy with the arrangements and the reception he had got.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 24 Oct 12 - 05:30 PM

In fact, to clarify ~~ Burl was standing at the back with Fred on the Saturday night; I saw him & spoke to him, but he was there only as an observer and it is possible that when the announcement was made about the "important person", the person making it didn't even know he was there; so no joke or insult intended. Colin & I then interviewed him on the Sun afternoon, as I said, when he was perfectly cheerful. His actual set was sung, as I said, to a packed hall as the final climax to the Festival on the Sunday night ~~ not, as you appear erroneously to recollect, 'later on the [Saturday] night', which was climaxed by IIRC The Chieftains ~~ at least, I certainly remember talking to Paddy Moloney & Derek Bell, who were in same hotel arranged by Fred, at breakfast on the Sunday morning. My interview with him was in The Guardian on, I think, the Tuesday of the following week, as I had to send it by 1st class Sunday mail for some reason as phone copytakers were not available; can't recall why.

I am pretty sure I have got my recollections accurately together this time; and particularly that anything about Burl singing to 'few people in a cavernous space' were just not the case.

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Stringsinger
Date: 24 Oct 12 - 06:56 PM

Don, what you said about simplicity apropos of folk song accompaniment is right on.
Anything that's played should enhance and not subtract from the melody, words and feeling.

One person who is not mentioned too much who played lovely accompaniments to his songs is the late Sam Hinton, from La Jolla, California whose recordings were done by the Library of Congress Folkarts Division and through the aegis of my friend, Adam Miller,
showing Sam's incredible harmonica playing, the best straight style harp I've ever heard.

I suspect that Sam had heard Burl sing many times and carried the sense of the story/song as Burl would have done. Sam's voice was plain and honest, with a lilt in his rhythm.

The songs reflect his Texas background. I think that a thread on Sam would be in order, the most likely person to start it would be Adam Miller who knew Sam intimately.
Sam started me off in a concert in 1952 at San Diego State College, the first full length
concert I did. I was about seventeen or so.

When I think of the simplicity of Burl and the appropriate accompaniments on guitar,
I often think of Sam and how he was not well known outside of California, a shame.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Mark Ross
Date: 24 Oct 12 - 08:56 PM

Frank, You are so right, Sam Hinton is vastly underrated, and not as well known as he should be. He wasn't a bad cross harp player either.

Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Don Firth
Date: 24 Oct 12 - 09:05 PM

Now, THERE is one of those wild-eyed coincidences, Frank, that you should mention Sam Hinton!

I first met Sam Hinton at the first Berkeley Folk Festival I attended in 1960, where he MCed pretty much the whole thing. I heard, and had a chance to meet and talk with, some great people—Peggy Seeger and Ewan McColl, John Lomax Jr., Lightnin' Hopkins, and several others, including running into Sandy Paton again. He'd been a busy lad since I last saw him in Seattle in 1954. And Sam Hinton. The concerts were great and the workshops were a real learning experience. I attended several more Berkeley festivals, and Sam was MCing most of the events, along with doing a lot of singing.

But—What makes this a surprising coincidence is that a few days ago, I got one of those notices from Amazon that said, "Our records show that in the past you bought this, this, and this. So we thought you might be interested in this." And the item was a CD of some forty-five songs sung by Sam Hinton.

The mail just came, the CD arrived, and I just opened it. I wanted to do a quick check of Mudcat, then listen to the CD.

And there you are, talking about Sam Hinton!

What a blast!!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: pdq
Date: 24 Oct 12 - 10:11 PM

Somebody here was trying to knock Burl Ives for doing children's songs.

Other great Folkies who did children's songs include Pete Seeger, Doc Watson and Sam Hinton.

Perhaps it takes a grownup to do children's songs.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: meself
Date: 24 Oct 12 - 10:38 PM

Not to mention Woody Guthrie.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 25 Oct 12 - 02:39 AM

Performing children's songs to children is fine!
But the practice of performing children's songs to adults is rather questionable!


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 25 Oct 12 - 03:56 AM

Trouble is, no one sings folksongs to kids. Maybe Liza Carthy got sung folksongs to her, but no one else. Whereas we learned a lot of folksongs. people like Elton Hayes and Burl and BBC's Singing Together programme did great work for our geberation.

I heard all the nasty things people said about Burl. But I don't judge him, any more than I do John Dillinger for robbing banks in depression America. Judge not lest ye be judged - the hardest injunction from the Sermon on the Mount.

I also heard the stuff about him singing like he wore silk drawers, Woody also said Pete seeger playing guitar was like someone dressing the songs up in lace pants. As a devotee of the lingerie section in every catalogue that comes through the door - I don't really like my folksongs smelling of fart and sweat. I suspect its down to individual sensiblities.

I worship Woody as a songwriter, but if he'd talked that way about my singing or guitar playing - I would probably have told him to fuck off. I hear he used to make Ronnie Gilbert cry - no excuse for that stuff.

Personally i always liked that rich buttery voice that Burl perfected. I also thought it sounded like butter on a scone, just perfect. I remember wishing that he's have a go at Blues Run the Game. The desolation of the words actually need a richer voice to lift it. Someone like Bert Jansch singing it made it sound like clinical depression - rather than the Byronic loneliness of that all young people occasionally enjoy indulging in - and what really drew us youngsters to the song.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Amos
Date: 25 Oct 12 - 09:07 AM

Sam was a gem. I shared the privilege of singing to the crowd at his last-but-one birthday party. He was wheelchair bound by then, but he loved being sung to, and shaking to the music. He knew every song I had ever heard and then some.

A


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Stringsinger
Date: 25 Oct 12 - 11:53 AM

Never heard that story about Woody making Ronnie cry, Alan, but I agree with you that Burl had a beautiful voice and I never cared if it was trained. I think too many folkies work hard at sounding like vocal sandpaper. Leadbelly was a fan of Richard Dyer-Bennet.

I don't see how a well trained voice hurt any folk song. I love Jo Stafford's recording of folk songs. I learned "Red Rosy Bush" from her and my former singing partner Guy Carawan when he performed with Miranda Marais's daughter. They sang nicely together.

John Charles Thomas did a version of "The Water Is Wide" and Pete Seeger sort of copied the piano accompaniment, it was so good.

Where is it writ that you have to sound like a scratchy 78 to be musically authentic?


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 25 Oct 12 - 12:06 PM

Ronnie told the story herself - it was an interview in a programme about Woody that was on over here a few years ago. She said she rexpected and revered Woody as a song writer, but as a man - she didn't like him.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Don Firth
Date: 25 Oct 12 - 04:19 PM

Richard Dyer-Bennet once made the following statement, with which I wholeheartedly agree:
The value lies inherent in the song, not in the regional mannerisms or colloquialisms. No song is ever harmed by being articulated clearly, on pitch, with sufficient control of phrase and dynamics to make the most of the poetry and melody, and with an instrumental accompaniment designed to enrich the whole effect.
I often watch the Classic Arts Showcase channel on the tube, which is sort of MTV for adults. It shows video clips from concerts by both singers and instrumentalist, scenes from opera and ballet, scenes from old classic movies, and such.

Recently on Classic Arts Showcase, I saw operatic bass-baritone George London do "Lord Randal" as part of a recital. Now, George London had one of THE great voices of all time. And vocally, his rendition of "Lord Randal" was marvelous. BUT--he gave it the full operatic treatment, and it sounded like the last scene in Lucia di Lammermoor, in which Edgardo, dying from a self-inflicted knife wound because he just learned that Lucia, the love of his life is dead, is gasping his last.

Sorry, George. Gawdawful!!

But on the same channel, I recently saw Welsh bass-baritone Bryn Terfyl do "Shenandoah." No hystrionics. He sang it straight, with crisp, clear diction and a marvelously rich voice.

Thanks, Bryn! Full marks!!   

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Oct 12 - 01:58 AM

'The value lies inherent in the song, not in the regional mannerisms or colloquialisms.'

Can-t say I totally go along with that. Can you imagine a cut glass accent doing anything except detrsct from the song versions of Ronnie Drew, Lightning Hopkins, Sam Larner......

The accent has a role to play.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Stringsinger
Date: 26 Oct 12 - 11:56 AM

Regarding "giving the devil his due" my final point about Burl's appearance before the HUAC is that he acknowledged them in an attempt to cooperate with them, even by his comment "ask them" because the them were those who were implicated by his testimony and many lost their careers because of it. Burl should have done what responsible Americans did during that period and take either the Fifth or as Pete did, the First Amendment and not given McCarthy anything. There is no moral defense for Burl's cooperation with that infamous committee.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: GUEST,Big Al Whittle
Date: 26 Oct 12 - 02:06 PM

Artists have always made the deals they have had to.

Look at all the people on this thread who have said The Big Country was magnificent. perhaps Burl wouldn't have got the chance to make that if he hadn't gone along with the HUAC.

Do you think Michelangelo wanted to do business with homophobic bastards like the Catholic church? He wanted to be an artist - he did what he had to.

It wasn't just Robert Johnson that sold his soul at the crossroads. that's the meaning of the metaphor - every artist does.

Only very minor talents keep themselves 'pure'.


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Don Firth
Date: 26 Oct 12 - 02:25 PM

GUEST, re:   accents and dialect.

Richard Dyer-Bennet was cognizant of the need for regional accents and dialect in songs that call for it. He does a creditable Scottish accent in songs like "Bonnie Dundee" and "The Bonnie Earl of Moray," and Irish in "Molly Brannigan" and "The Kerry Recruit" and others. And as far as anything Lightnin' Hopkins did, Dyer-Bennet didn't touch blues. He knew his limitations (which, unfortunately, can't be said for all singers!).

It's a matter of TASTE. And mainly, making sure that the audience can hear the words, which is especially important in ballads, which are songs that tell a story. And for that matter, non-ballad folk songs usually imply a story.

Even when he used accents or sang in dialect, you never had any problem hearing the words Dyer-Bennet was singing.   

I've heard singers in coffee houses and at open mikes who spoke perfectly crisp, clear English go all "mush-mouthed," or put on some kind of indefinite semi-southern accent when they sang—only because it was a folk song. Trying to make out what's happening in a song when the singer is singing like he's got his mouth stuffed with hominy grits is, in a word, phony.

Dave Van Ronk had a voice like a rusty hinge. And Bob Dylan's school mates in Minnesota (when he was still Bob Zimmerman) said that when he was doing rock in high school, he had a smooth, clear voice, similar to Buddy Holly's. But when he got into folk, he did his damnedest to sound like he was eighty years old and had been inhaling coal-dust all his life.

But with Dave Van Ronk (who could really put a song across), and even with Bob Dylan doing his thing, you never had any problem hearing the words!

Taste is important. Even if it IS "just" a folk song. Really!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Life of Burl Ives
From: Don Firth
Date: 26 Oct 12 - 02:30 PM

In short, Dyer-Bennet is not saying that one should not use "regional mannerisms or colloquialisms." He is saying that the song should be "articulated clearly."

The two are not mutually exclusive.

Don Firth


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