Episode Air Date: December 19, 2016
Artist: Burl Ives
Recording Title: The Blue Tail Fly
Carl Sandburg once called Ives “the mightiest ballad singer of this or any other century.” But his fellow performers might have described him with slightly different words. We’ve talked quite a bit on the show about careers that suffered during the McCarthy /blacklisting era. We haven’t talked about any that made it through unscathed. When the Senate called Ives to testify, he saved himself with the claim that he only fraternized with his fellow folk singers to stay working. Oh, and he pretty much named Pete Seeger a communist, resulting in his ban.
Years of bad blood passed. During the folk revival of the 60’s, Seeger and his “comrades” experienced career upswings, while Ives found himself on establishment’s side in decidedly anti-establishment times.
“Blue Tail Fly” was the last song Ives ever played in concert. And it was a duet… with Pete Seeger. The two reunited for a benefit concert in 1993.