Most of today's generation remember Burl Ives (if at all) for "Holly, Jolly Christmas". A few of an older generation might remember him for O. K. Crackerby. Their loss. Ives was one of the most populoar and influential balladeers of the Twentieth Century.
Burl Icle Ivanhoe Ives (1909-1995) was born in rural Illinois, one of seven children. Attending college for a teaching career, throwing it in in his Junior year. He became a wandering singer and got his own radio show in 1940. During that decade, he did much to popularize folk songs and eventually joined The Almanac Singers. His acting career began burgeoning in the 50s and he went on to appear in movies, theatre, and television -- and is best known for his role as "Big Daddy" and for his work in animated television cartoons.
All the time he kept singing, recording dozens of albums and single. His relaxed, comforting tenor voice
was just one of the reasons that Carl Sandburg called Ives America's greatest balladeer.
Here's a medley with Johnny Cash from The Johnny Cash Show (1970), beginning with "A Little Bitty Tear" and followed by "Oh Mary, Don't You Weep". "Goober Peas", and "Sweet Lorena":
The original recording of "Ghost Riders in the Sky":
You've heard this one from everybody from The Sons of the Pioneers to Frankie Laine, and even Walter Brennan:
And here's a few songs that we all learned when we were younger:
"Red Sails in the Sunset":
This is a lovely song to end with: Kurt Weill and Maxwell Anderson's "September Song":
I hope you have enjoyed these as much as I have.