"Twas so good to be young then,/ In the season of plenty,/When the catfish was jumping as high as the sky.../To be close to the earth,/And to stand by your wife at the moment of birth," (The Green Leaves Of Summer) are lyrics that can only come from four singers who called themselves, THE BROTHERS FOUR.
This vocal foursome is one of the sources of inspiration for many of our Singapore vocal groups. The Brothers Four is a pioneering and long-running folk/pop quartet formed in 1957 by the University of Washington fraternity brothers Bob Flick (upright bass, vocals), Mike Kirkland (guitar, banjo, vocals), John Paine (guitar, vocals) and Richard Foley (guitar, vocals).
They were spotted when playing in San Francisco in 1959 and secured a contract with Columbia Records. Their second release, "Greenfields", shot to number 2 in the US charts. This beautiful and haunting song came from the pen of Terry Gilkyson of the Easy Riders, who had written major 50s hits such as "Memories Are Made Of This" and "Marianne".
The folk-based foursome, who were voted America's "Most Promising Group Of 1960', were quickly established as one of the leading folk revival scene alongside the Kingston Trio and the Limeliters. Their first two albums, The Brothers Four and B.M.O.C. (Best Music On/Off Campus), reach the US Top 20. They had eight more lower placed albums and half-a-dozen smaller US hit singles, and reached a peak when they recorded the theme tune to the ABC network folk music series Hootenanny.
The emergence of Bob Dylan and a highly politicized folk movement, coupled with the British beat group invasion of the mid-60s made the Brothers Four" brand of easy listening folk instantly passé.
The original line-up carried on until 1969 and after a number of replacements the quartet survived the 70s and 80s through extensive touring, and resumed recording the following decade.
And my favourite songs? Greenfields, Green Leaves Of Summer, Yellow Bird.
(Edited and extracted from: 'The Encyclopaedia of Popular Music' by Colin Larkin)