My Dad, back when I was a really little elementary-school kid, used to play music by The Kingston Trio, and they stuck to me the way things you hear as a kid do. This is music of a different era, but there’s this one song, Fast Freight, that I think is timeless.

The Kingston Trio Debut Album

I actually inherited my Dad’s copy of their eponymous debut album — from 1958, scratchy and in mono, and one time I cued it up, wondering if it’d sound like what I remembered. Some of the tunes haven’t worn well, like when they try to do British accents, and they had basically no sophistication, but they sang interesting harmonies and took some of the songs at insane speed, so there’s quite a bit to like.

Anyhow, when Fast Freight came on, I noticed that I’d put down whatever I was reading and shut my eyes to listen. It was written by Terry Gilkyson (never heard of him); a straightforward folk tune The wheels are saying to the railroad track / Well, if you go, you can't come back. If you go, you can't come back. But it’s got a nice melody and the Kingstons really make something of it, fooling with the harmonies and tempo and volume in really intelligent ways and digging deep into the feeling of the song. It’s really a treat for the ears. And there’s something special about the 1958 vinyl, it’s got that you-are-there vibe, three guys with acoustic guitars and good voices down at the other end of the room. But I just now played it on Spotify and it sounds pretty good there too.

This is part of the Song of the Day series (background).

Links · Spotify playlist. This tune on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon. No video, sorry.


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From: Peter Hornby (May 21 2018, at 15:08)

I too have never heard of Terry Gilkyson. But I have heard his daughter, Eliza Gilkyson, and seen her in concert at a local venue here in SoCal. I think she's a very special singer and songwriter. Check out her 2005 album "Paradise Hotel.


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May 21, 2018
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