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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