Where does musical insight come from? Some artists will have you believe that inspiration is all around; you just have to know where to look. Others will say that a good song can only come from within yourself. I think everyone knows the story of Paul McCartney dreaming the melody for the song Yesterday, and waking up to play it on the piano so he wouldn’t forget it. Ben Folds wrote Brick about his high school girlfriend getting an abortion. Kurt Cobain was trying to write the perfect pop song when he farted out Smells Like Teen Spirit. New Kids On The Block were handed all of their songs by some producer. Sheryl Crow records every song she ever has because the Universe hates me and wants me to hear crap every time I turn on the radio. Is a song better when it has a good back story? Or is a song just a song?
The Kingston Trio was formed in Palo Alto, California in 1957. The band consisted of members Dave Guard, Bob Shane, and Nick Reynolds.
Two years before the band got together, Dave and Bob went to the home of Dave’s girlfriend Katie Seaver. The story has been told a few different ways and it’s hard to tell exactly what happened. Either they were there to go on a double date, or they were just driving down from Stanford to L.A. and decided to stop at his girl’s house for a visit. Also, this happened during either Easter or Thanksgiving. If it happened during Easter, Katie wasn’t home and, while waiting for her to arrive, her parents played this song on the piano for Dave and Bob. If it happened during Thanksgiving, Dave and Bob had dinner with the Seavers and afterwards Katie’s parents played them the song. These are the parts of the story that are in dispute.
There are some parts, however, that are not in dispute. One of them is the fact that Katie’s younger brother was nine at the time of this taking place. He grew up and became baseball great Tom Seaver. Also not in doubt is that in 1932 Katie’s parents were on their honeymoon in Phoenix, Arizona. While in a restaurant, they heard a song being played in the back room by the piano player. The Seavers approached him and told him how much they loved the song and wanted to make it “their song”. They asked him to write it out for them. He did so without ever signing his name to the piece.
Dave and Bob heard the song that day in 1953 or 1954 and asked Katie’s parents for it. In 1958, they recorded the song and put it on their first album. For some reason, the record company refused to release it as a single until 1962. It quickly became one of their most requested songs. It is now considered to be one of the quintessential saloon songs. To this day, after fifty years of searching, the true author of the song has never been found.
I now present to you one of the greatest songs you’ve never heard… Scotch and Soda by The Kingston Trio.
My Spell Check wanted to change “farted” to “farmed”.