Burl Ives

Burl Ives / Los Angeles Times

When someone you love suddenly walks out the door and says he/she is leaving for good, all you can ever do is to shed “A Little Bitty Tear.” Even a clown cannot hide the pain when talking about heartbreaks and breakups.  Burl Ives takes the role of a man, who was left by his lover, and he just has to put his throbbing heart in a song.

Hank Cochran, the man behind “A Little Bitty Tear”

Garland Perry “Hank” Cochran was a prolific songwriter in the country music during the 1960s. He wrote major hits for Patsy Cline, Ray Price, Eddy Arnold and many others. Aside from crafting songs, he was also a recording artist between 1962 and 1980. He scored seven hits on the Billboard country music charts. His greatest success was “Sally was a Good Old Girl,” which peaked number 20. Further, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2014.

“A Little Bitty Tear” was one of the many songs he wrote in his car while commuting home from work. In one of his interviews, he stated that the idea for the song just came into his mind, just like most of the songs he wrote. The track suggests that the narrator has been left by his partner for an unknown reason. And though he was known to be a gleeful person (clown), he just can’t hide the sadness he feels inside this time.

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

You said you were leaving tomorrow
That today was our last day
I said there’d be no sorrow
That I’d laugh when you walked away

Hank Cochran

Hank Cochran/ hankcochran.com

Original Recording

Burl Ives first recorded “A Little Bitty Tear” in 1961, for his album The Versatile Burl Ives! Released as a single, the song became one of Ive’s highest charting hit. It peaked number 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in February 1962. Also, the song spent two weeks atop the Billboard Easy Listening chart. In Britain, the song also reached a promising spot on the UK Singles chart at number 9.

Because of its excellent melody, Wanda Jackson was convinced to record the song for her album Wonderful Wanda, released in December 1961. Her version was released a month after Ive’s version started to sell on the market. Maybe caused by intertwining chart positions, Jackson’s version became a minor hit on the chart, peaking at number 84. Regardless of their chart positions, both artists delivered the song excellently with their own personal style.

Introduced by the legend Johnny Cash, here’s Burl Ive’s soulful live rendition of “A Little Bitty Tear.”

To complete the menu, here’s Wanda Jackson’s classic rockabilly version of “A Little Bitty Tear.”

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