copyright 2001, D. Glenn Arthur Jr.
[What's new at this site] Last updated 2001-11-07 (cosmetic only).

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The Story Behind "John's Quest"

In 1994, I (Glenn) attended a wedding in Pennsylvania, catching a ride from my friend Aliza. Our plan was for me to crash at the house of another friend, Jo, while Aliza crashed at her sister's house, and in the morning we would rendevous and continue home. But the muses intervened...

Jo drove me to Aliza's sister's house, and we were introduced to Varda (Aliza's sister) and Varda's husband Bob. Not being in any particular hurry, we stayed to chat a while, and somewhere along the line one of us (me? someone else?) mentioned that I play guitar. Varda asked me what kinds of music I play, and when I listed blues among the styles in which I indulge, she wanted to hear me play. So I went out to the car to fetch my guitar, and Varda and I spent the next couple of hours trading songs.

Somewhere along the line, I played a song called, "The Quest". This was a poem by Rudyard Kipling, which Leslie Fish has set to music. When I finished the song, Varda commented that she kept expecting it to turn out to be about John and Lorena Bobbit -- the couple who had caused such a stir in the media about that time, when Lorena cut off John's penis as he slept.

What we had to do next was obvious. Varda and I proceeded to write "John's Quest" as a parody of Kipling's "The Quest", shamelessly borrowing Leslie Fish's tune. Aliza complained that I had "corrupted" her sister by turning her into a filker, and I claimed innocence, pointing out that the parody was Varda's idea.

After I got home I tried to record the song, but didn't have much luck with the improvised recording equipment I had on hand. A couple of days later I asked a friend, Charles Dickson, for help. Starting at nine PM and finishing around five AM the next morning, we used his four-track tape recorder, microphones, and mixer to record what wound up being eight tracks. By this time the tune I was using, while recognizeably Leslie Fish's melody, had mutated from 6/8 time to a more rock 'n' roll 4/4, and I'd added lead guitar and bass parts to her vocal melody and chords.

We sent copies of the tape to Dr. Demento and a few radio stations, but as far as we know it never got played on the air. *sigh*

In case anybody cares, the eight tracks were:

  1. Folk guitar (Yamaha FG-331 with Martin Phosphor Bronze strings) strumming first-position chords, through a microphone
  2. Same guitar through Dean Markley Pro-Mag magnetic pickup, Radio Shack EQ, and a phase shifter (same take)
  3. Electric bass guitar (Bradley Professional (copy of Fender Precision))
  4. Electric guitar (Hondo Deluxe Series 760 (copy of Fender Stratocaster)) strumming barre chords
  5. Electric guitar (same) playing high lead
  6. Electric guitar (same) playing low lead
  7. me singing near the top of my range
  8. me singing near the bottom of my range

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