In 1961, Burl Ives released “A Little Bitty Tear” as a single off his album The Versatile Burl Ives! The song became one of his highest-charting hits, reaching No. 2 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart while peaking at No. 9 on Billboard Hot 100. It even climbed all the way to the top of Billboard’s Easy Listening chart.
The song was also an international hit for Ives, spending two weeks at No. 9 on the UK Singles Chart. But there’s more! “A Little Bitty Tear” also helped Ives earn Best Country & Western Recording and Best Male Solo Vocal Performance nominations during Grammy Awards.
Since then, “A Little Bitty Tear” has been recorded by various artists, including Wanda Jackson, Bing Crosby, and Chet Atkins.
It was indeed a successful crossover into country music by Ives, who started his career as a folk singer who brought new life and popularity to some of America’s oldest folk music within his wide-ranging career as a radio personality and stage and screen actor.
The Story Behind The Song
“A Little Bitty Tear” was one of the many songs country songwriter Hank Cochran wrote in his car while commuting home from work. It tells the story of a man left behind by his lover.
While he put on quite a show when he left her – pulling a funny as she went out the door and even waving goodbye as she walked away – his emotions have let him down. “A little bitty tear let me down, spoiled my act as a clown. I had it made up, not make a frown, but a little bitty tear let me down,” the song goes.
In 1980, Cochran joined forces with Willie Nelson to record the song for the first time.
You can listen to “A Little Bitty Tear” by Burl Ives in the video below.
Burl Ives, Hank Cochran