DEAR JERRY: Please help defog my memory regarding “Scotch and Soda.”
Before they started playing the Kingston Trio's famous version on the radio, another recording of it got a lot of spins. After the Trio's record came out, the other one vanished forever. And I do mean vanished!
I have never mentioned this to anyone who is aware of this other version, but then again, I have not brought my question to you.
Any idea who had this pre-Kingston Trio single of “Scotch and Soda”?
Sarge Wilkins, York, Pa.
DEAR SARGE: Yes, because this single is the first one I bought of “Scotch and Soda.”
The singer is Henry Thome, and his 45 (Viv 305) came out early in 1962, several weeks ahead of the Trio's.
Though Thome served the first single of “Scotch and Soda,” the Kingston Trio included the tune on their self-titled, debut LP, in 1958.
For many years, the Times Picayune newspaper in New Orleans ran a small item at the bottom of the front page called “A la Bas,” translated from French to mean “At the Bottom.”
It was a kind of thought for the day, usually with some humor pointed at one source or another. In particular, Louisiana politicians were a common target.
I was born and raised in New Orleans and still visit family there often. As I was growing up it was not unusual to hear people use "a la bas" as a multi-use phrase.
A man might see an attractive female walking down the street and say “a la bas.” Someone else could look at a charge or bill and say “a la bas,” but using a completely different tone.
The pronouncement should be “ah la bah,” but has been bastardized over the years to “hey la bas.”
Thanks for the interesting column. Fats was a big part of my high school days. I am, with Richie, Fonzie, and others on Happy Days, a 1957 high school graduate.
Adele Allain DiGiovanna, via e-mail
DEAR ADELE: Thank you for sharing the Times Picayune connection, as well as fond rememberances of your days hanging out at Arnold's Drive-In. I'll bet you heard “a la bas” a few times during those happy days.
Let us conclude the “a la bas” case with a somewhat didactic offering:
DEAR JERRY: Regarding the meaning of the title of Fats Domino's “Hey! La Bas Boogie,” no need to resort to voodoo. Any French speaker would tell you that “la-bas” means “over there.”
So all Fats is singing is ”Hey! Over There.” As a noun, “bas” is masculine, but the article “la” is feminine, so “la bas” would never be taken to be a noun phrase.
Rick Emmer, Tampa, Fla.
DEAR RICK: Thank you for the Fats in French lesson.
Let us now learn a bit more about Sister Therese, afterwhich class will be dismissed.
DEAR JERRY: I noticed the discussion in your column about Jackie Wilson's (with Billy Ward and the Dominoes) 1956 hit, “St. Therese of the Roses.” Here is some background on St. Therese:
Therese was born Therese Martin. She was a poor French farm girl who became a nun, and she lived about 125 years ago.
Therese told her friends that if she was accepted into heaven, she would make little miracles on earth, letting “a shower of roses” signal her work. There have since been many such miracles associated with her, some with just the strong perfume of roses, and some with fresh roses growing out of snow. The latter actually happened in such places as Boston.
She is called ”Ste. Therese de Lisieux, the Little Flower of Jesus.”
Oh yes, the spelling “Therese” really needs French accent marks on the “e”s.
Theresa Tilton, Tacoma, Wash.
IZ ZAT SO? For such an enormously successful artist, with millions and millions of record sales to his credit, it is surprising that Fats Domino never reached No. 1 on the Billboard charts.
He came as close to the top of the chart as you can, when “Blueberry Hill” peaked at No. 2 in 1956.