Mudcat Café message #2251785 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #108263   Message #2251785
Posted By: Don Firth
02-Feb-08 - 03:49 PM
Thread Name: Burl Ives and Johnny Cash -- A Wow
Subject: RE: Burl Ives and Johnny Cash -- A Wow
I love the story that Burl Ives tells in his book Wayfaring Stranger, how he was in New York, rooming with a bunch of other music students, some of whom were going to Juilliard. As I recall, he couldn't afford Juilliard, so he was going to a different music school, taking voice lessons and struggling to learn songs in German, aspiring to be a lieder singer. He had his guitar with him, and would occasionally sing a folk song (one of a couple of hundred he estimated he had learned from his grandmother, or one he had picked up bumming around the country) around the rooming house, and some of the other students would look down their noses at the songs he liked to sing for fun.

One day, feeling a bit homesick, he took his guitar to a nearby park, sat on a park bench, and started singing some of the songs he had learned from his grandmother. He wasn't "busking," he was singing for himself. Soon, a few people paused to listen, and it wasn't long before he had a whole crowd there. He seized the moment and gave them an impromptu concert, thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience, as did his voluntary audience.

"Why," he asked himself, "am I killing myself trying to learn a whole bunch of songs that are foreign to me in more ways than one, when I already have a big repertoire of songs? My fellow students may sneer at these songs, but the crowd in the park really loved them!"

Major light bulb! He had found his niche.

Don Firth