Friday, August 5, 2011

Because I'm a nerd and because facts matter.

About ten months ago, I put together a video using iMovie of the original recording of Ghost Riders In The Sky by Burl Ives. This picture of Burl is from his early years as a folk singer, traveling around the country with his voice and his guitar. Ghost Riders In The Sky is not really a folk song, but a modern tune in the Western style. Burl recorded the simple version I found on iTunes a month before Vaughn Monroe turned it into a massive hit.

The difference in musical styles is significant and I like Burl's version better.

Honest people can disagree.

Someone named Markalson1938 posted this version of Burl singing the song. Way too show business for my taste, after Burl sold out. There is no way in Hell the second version Burl did compared to the first, which is an honest song by an honest artist.

I say this because I'm a nerd and facts matter. Some might like Burl's second version better, but hearing the original shows you how much people turned this great tune into an excuse for virtuosity, losing the simple, scary meaning of the tune.


namastenancy said...

What a beautiful, haunting version. You are right - this version "works" much better than the more bombastic,full orchestra one.

Abu Scooter said...

Ghost Riders is one of my favorite songs, but it doesn't lend itself a whole lot of improvisation. Too much instrumentation, or too much improvisation, disrespects the spirit of the song, ruining the cover.

Besides Ives and Monroe, Johnny Cash got it right, as did the Sons of the Pioneers. The common thread is that they all respected the simple Ives version.

Anonymous said...

It is probably the best version. It was also the first song in a book we received when first learning to play the guitar. The notes and chords were simple to play and memorize.