January 21, 2019

Recalling a conversation with Burl Ives

The famous singer/actor Burl Ives was from a little town of about 100-150 people called Hunt City in southeast-central Illinois, a few miles from the village of Bellair, where I was born and raised. "From Here to Eternity" author James Jones was born and raised in nearby Robinson.
          In 1982--13 years before his death in 1995--I interviewed Burl as part of a cultural journalism project called Tales from the General Store that published 27 issues in tabloid newsprint format and was distributed in several newspapers throughout east-central Illinois. Those issues are helping to preserve part of the history and culture of the area, and the entire collection is now available for free through the Digital Public Library of America at http://www.idaillinois.org/digital/collection/p16614coll12/search/.
          Burl had much to say about growing up in the area, his career, the musicals in which he performed (Lerner and Loewe's "Paint Your Wagon"), movie roles (Big Daddy in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof"), songs he sang ("The Ballad of Barbara Allen," where he sees the same image saw when he first sang it early in his life), and more. Read all about him: http://www.talespress.com/Issue_3_Burl_Ives.pdf.