When I was in the first year of my secondary education, besides recess and physical education class, my most enjoyable time in the school was during music class. Although I did not sing well, I really enjoyed the harmonious sound when the classmates sang together.
Reminiscing about the event, I have forgotten why there was a music class for secondary school? It was most probably a noble effort by our form teacher who tried to instill us with interests to learn and improve our English.
I remember most of the songs we sang then were campfire songs and folk songs. There was one particular song that left a lasting impression in me. The song is “On Top of Old Smokey”. I liked this song because it sounded so good when the class sang together. I didn’t care much for the lyrics though.
When I started to collect records, I had a wish list of songs and singers to collect. “On top of Old Smokey” was one of the songs in my wish list. My first collection of the song was Harry Belafonte’s blues version followed by Mitch Miller’s sing-along version. I also have Slim Whitman “Down in the Valley” and “Birmingham Jail”. These 2 songs adopt the music of “On Top of Old Smokey” but with different lyrics. I was delighted to add this “Folk Songs” album that has “On Top of Old Smokey” to my LP collection.
Anyway, this album is not just about this song. It comprises songs from many great folk singers/groups of the 50s and 60s. Two songs from The Weavers are featured. In fact, The Weavers recorded 2 of their biggest hits “Goodnight, Irene” and “On Top of Old Smokey” during the 50s. Another folk singer appeared in this album is Terry Gilkyson. Terry Gilkyson co-wrote “Memories Are Made of This” which was also sung by Jim Reeves and Dean Martin in the 60s.
This album also contains 2 songs that I like very much, “Wreck of Old Number 9” and “Colorado Trail”. These 2 songs were recorded by many country and western singers in the 50s and 60s too.
This album was released in 1964. However, I notice many of the songs were recorded in the 50s. It is an enjoyable folk song album.
Side A – On Top of Old Smokey (The Weavers), Black Eyed Susie (Terry Gilkyson), Hey Young Rider (The Ivy League Trio), I Never Will Marry (Tompall and the Glaser Brothers), Greensleeves (Richard Dyer-Benett), Candy Mountain Land (The Gateway Singers)
Side B – Wreck of Old Number 9 (Tompall and the Glaser Brothers), Sweet Betsy from Pike (Oscar Brand), Colorado Trail (The Gateway Singers), Deep Blue Sea (The Ivy League Trio), Billy Boy (Terry Gilkyson), When the Saints Go Marching In (The Weavers)