Pete Seeger recorded his arrangement of “On Top of Old Smoky” with The Weavers in 1951, but the tune had been traveling the Appalachians and Ozarks for over a century. You’re on the Sound Beat.
The Weavers recorded the song for Decca Records and it reached #2 on Billboard that year. It’s classic Seeger, his characteristic songleading on display.
Bing Crosby called Old Smoky “The big song of the year.” And it was no exaggeration: Burl Ives shared the Billboard list with the Weavers, reaching number 10 with the same song in the same year.
Of course, if you can listen to it and not think about spaghetti, sneezing and meatballs, more power to you.
This episode was co-written by Syracuse University student Dan Stack as part of the Sound Beat Class Partnership.