"TATTOO SONG (Daisy on my Toe)" -- Mason WilliamsMany summer camps and Girl Scout troops know this song:
What they often don't seem to know is who wrote it. In fact, most assume it's a folk song, handed down over so many years that no one remembers where it originated. It's time to correct that misconception.
In fact, "Tattoo Song" debuted in 1965 on a best-selling album by the Smothers Brothers, "Mom Always Liked You Best." Like most of the duo's cuts, it combined humor and music.
So who wrote it? A man who has been awarded an Emmy and two Grammys. A man who is an accomplished guitarist, comedian, artist, poet and author. His name is Mason Williams, and he is best known for ""Classical Gas," a huge hit in 1968 whose popularity has never waned in the decades since its release.
Williams received his two Grammy Awards for composing and performing "Classical Gas." At the time, he was head writer for the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, a groundbreaking, controversial and popular television variety show. For this work, he landed his Emmy,
A few years earlier, just before he wrote "Tattoo Song," Williams released an album called "Them Poems," a collection of humorous short pieces he sung or recited before a live audience. That same year, the Kingston Trio ("Tom Dooley," "Charlie and the MTA,") included a few of these tunes on their live album:
"Tattoo Song" is seemingly just one of many short comedic songs written by Williams at a time when he was busy with a a variety of successful creative endeavors, one which could have gently faded into the past. Instead, it has taken on a life of its own, inspiring countless numbers of camp counselors to get a daisy tattooed on her or his toe.
I caught up with Williams recently to quiz him about a song for which he gets so little credit.