Monday, June 23, 2008

Me and Burl Ives

Have you ever come across a song from your childhood and been transported back to a time and place as clear as a bell? Or in this case, as clear as the folksy voice of Burl Ives.

I LOVED Burl Ives when I was a little girl. My parents must have bought an album of his, never realizing that a nine year old would play the record over and over again, falling in love with (let's face it) a bit of an old coot.

And then, the other day, out of the blue, I came across that very same album. Scratched, true, but for seven dollars, I thought it was a steal. Today I'm listening to Burl and feeling downright small and innocent and happy with the world. You can't really put a price tag on that kind of joy, can you?

And then I wondered how I'd come to fall in love with those old folk ballads (I also wondered how I could possibly remember the words to those long ago songs? And how could I not remember the words to a song I'd heard a thousand times on American Idol last month? And if this whole conundrum may be the first sign of Alzheimer's? Well. That was entirely enough of wondering...) But then wham! It hit me.

Burl's songs tell a tale. I'd fallen in love with those characters...The Lavender Cowboy, Sweet Betsy from Pike, Cotton-eyed Joe, Peter Gray and all the rest. Each and every ballad grabbed me with its melodic story, whether it be unrequited love or a dissolute life.

And I just had to wonder once more...was it then, in my attic bedroom, record player by my side, Burl Ives' face staring up at me, his music and stories filling the air, that a writer was born?