June 7

Not A Tale, “Ballad of Davy Crockett” by Tennessee Ernie Ford

There was a song that existed in the 1950s to market Disney’s 1955 film “Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier”. The movie was based on the existing and successful Disney TV series Davy Crockett. George Bruns and Thomas W. Blackburn, both working at Disney Studios, penned “The Ballad of Davy Crockett”. Three versions of the song were released. One by actor Fess Parker, singer Bill Hayes, and one by singer and actor Tennessee Ernie Ford. Since Ford is a staple for country music, we will award the floor to him today.

Not A Tale, "Ballad of Davy Crockett" by Tennessee Ernie Ford 1

Did You know?

If you are thinking that Davy Crockett is a myth, you better stop doubting. For your information, he was a renowned 19th-century American frontiersman, politician, soldier and politician, who served in the Texas Revolution and died at the battle of the Alamo. But,  opposing the first line of “The Ballad of Davy Crockett,” he was not born at a mountaintop in Tennessee. He also served as a member of the United States House of Representatives for two terms, from 1827-1835. To be the subject of a song makes a person become a tale. But, Davy Crockett was a real man whose real mark is on authentic United States government papers and whose ashes are somewhere in the Alamo vicinity. To make matters more exciting, a town in Texas was even named after him. There were just some hyperboles in the tune popularized by Disney’s TV and movie versions of Crockett. We understand, because the song was made for entertainment purposes, and was not meant to be totally factual and correct.

Song vs. Reality

He kilt him a b’ar when he was only three
Davy, Davy Crockett, king of the wild frontier!

Did he really kill a bear when he was three? There was no evidence that he did, but bear-hunting was kind of a symbol for him in his political campaigns.

Fought single-handed through the Injun War
Till the Creeks was whipped an’ peace was in store

He did offer to fight, but he was a small and insignificant part of the Creek War. However, when he fought, he contributed to some things, which were quite terrible. Disney creating him as a defender of Indian rights is still true to a point. He ended electing on the right side of the issue in Congress, against Andrew Jackson’s Indian Removal bill that passed and caused the Trail of Tears.

Best Part, Best Version

His land is biggest, his land is best
From grassy plains to the mountain crest
He’s ahead of us all and meetin’ the tes
And a-followin’ his legend right into the West
Davy, Davy Crockett, the king of the wild frontier!

The battle of the Alamo is probably the reason we still remember Crockett today because it’s hugely an important event both in history and in the mythology of Texas. He was, at the time, the most famed person there. The version of Tennessee Ernie Ford is the most playful of them all.

What other ways are there but to let you listen to the song from a country folk.



Tennessee Ernie Ford, The Ballad Of Davy Crockett

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