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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
RoyH (Burl) Folk Songs That Are in Movies (53* d) RE: Folk Songs That Are in Movies 23 Feb 13


In 1946 (or 47) I was reluctantly dragged along by my mother on a shopping trip to buy new shoes,a hated task for a 13 year old boy. The reward was that we would go to the pictures afterwards. The film we eventually saw was 'Smoky', a story of the 'Black Beauty' type about a horse saved from ill-treatment. Fred MacMurray and Ann Baxter were the leads, with Bruce Cabot as the baddie. There was also a singing, guitar playing, ranch hand character called Bill, or maybe Will. This was Burl Ives in his movie debut. He sang Streets of Laredo, Down in the Vally, Woolie Boogie Bee, and Blue Tail Fly. I was entranced by this, especially the Streets of Laredo song. All the way home I kept on talking about this huge man with the lilting voice, and the 'Great songs' that he sang. I wanted to learn them, and others like them, to add to my store of Frank Crumit songs. From that day on I searched for folk songs in libraries, music shops, and scoured the pages of the Radio Times for notice of anything with the tag 'folk' attached. I thought that this music only existed in America, but came across some broadcasts of English folk songs, which were sung in such a poncy manner I couldn't give them credence. Burl Ives might be considered very smooth nowadays, but compared with the 'classical' style of the recordings of the time his voice sounded earthy and natural. I learned as much as I could about this music, and because of an interest in jazz at the same time I got to know about the blues, and heard the majestic voice of Bessie Smith. In 1951 I was in the army, and there heard an old soldier sing McCafferty, and D Day Dodgers. Mr Ives and my old Battery Sgt Major turned my life around as far as music was concerned. I was a skiffler in the 50's (many thanks Lonnie) and in 1964 became a professional folk singer and have been ever since. That's 50 years next year.Not bad for a bloke who can't play guitar. I'm approaching 80 now, and once or twice have had thoughts of giving up for health reasons. Now I'm determined not to give up, but to sing until I'm no longer able. It has been a wonderful life. The music has taken me to far places and introduced me to some of the best people I've ever known. And all because I needed a new pair of shoes. I met Burl Ives back in the 1970's and was able to thank him for the gift he gave me. I'm still grateful.
PS.Sorry if this has run on. I didn't mean to do an autobiography
PPS. Just remembered something else. Last year Smoky played on one of the cable channels. Watching it I noticed that Burl and the ranch hands who joined in the chorus of Blue Tail Fly sang 'Boss' instead of the usual 'Master'. A bit of early PC perhaps?


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