The Title is a Type of Moonshine
Oh boy, today’s sauce is a special sauce, and it took several years to get here.
Have you seen the movie “Slacker”? No, not “Slackers.” I’m not enough of a film buff/snob to comment on the movie’s “importance” but it’s worth seeing.
Anyway, in college Eddie and I became obsessed with the song that plays in the ending scene. It’s called “Die Grasskop Polka” by South African musician Nico Carstens, and that’s about all we could find on that particular version. We even played the tune (ripped from the DVD) to close out our final radio show. But we were never able to find the song itself.
So the other day I was reading Neil Hamburger’s hilarious Twitter account, and he tweeted this weird jab at the Red Hot Chili Peppers. But then I heard the song he posted by The Four Lads. (who you might know as the original performers of “Instanbul, Not Constantinople”) My eyes went all a-glow because HOLY SHIT THIS IS THE SONG.
It’s an instrumental called “Skokiaan,” originally recorded in (maybe) 1947 by a group called African Dance Band of the Cold Storage Commission of Southern Rhodesia in what is now Zimbabwe. This version was recorded by the Bulawayo Sweet Rhythms Band by the South African label Gallo in 1954
August Msarurgwa, the guy who wrote and arranged it, apparently met Louis Armstrong when he toured Africa in 1960. Satch was one of dozens of people to record a version of this. Bill Haley, Perez Prado, random surf rock bands, Trinidadian steel drum bands, and others did “Skokiaan”, sometimes with added lyrics that had nothing to do with actual “Skokiaan,” which is a type of moonshine.
We’re just glad this highly infectious tune has finally been tracked down and quarantined.
P.S. I made a Spotify playlist of 20 different versions of “Skokiaan.” Warning: some of them suck.