The Greatest Man(1921)
"The Greatest Man" is the 19th song in Ives's song collection 114 Songs. The text is from Anne Collin's "The Greatest Man," printed in the New York Evening Sun on June 7, 1921.
Ives remarks that the song should be sung "in a half boasting and half wistful way."
The Greatest Man
by Anne Collins
My teacher said us boys should write about some great man, so I thought last night 'n thought about heroes and men that had done great things, 'n then I got to thinkin' 'bout my pa; he ain't a hero 'r anything but pshaw! Say! He can ride the wildest hoss 'n find minners near the moss down by the creek; 'n he can swim 'n fish, we ketched five new lights, me 'n him! Dad's some hunter too, Oh, my! Miss Molly Cottontail sure does fly. When he tromps through the fields 'n brush! (Dad won't kill a lark 'r thrush.) Once when I was sick 'n though his hands were rough he rubbed the pain right out. "That's the stuff!" he said when I winked back the tears. He never cried but once 'n that was when my mother died. Ther're lots o' great men, George Washington 'n Lee, but Dad's got 'em all beat holler, seems to me!