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Story Behind the Song: Latitude, “Smooth Sailing”

Poignant, emotional experiences often are the basis for some of the most heart-felt songs. Michelle and Tom Becker, who make up the duo Latitude tell us about the background of one of their most popular songs, “Smooth Sailing.”

Tom and Michelle Becker, duo Latitude

We like to end our shows with the song, “Smooth Sailing”, which is ironic, because it’s the first Trop Rock song we wrote after merging our singer/songwriter chops to form the duo, Latitude.

Let’s backup a bit.

Living in Nashville is a dream for songwriters and budding recording artists to hone their skills. And, that’s where we met! But, for an “Island Girl”, and a guy who used to play in St Croix, it’s less than ideal.

So, when the opportunity came along to spend the summer as the house band at a resort in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, it was an offer we couldn’t refuse. Up to this point, we rarely played music together. We were each busy with our own projects. But, as if it was destiny, we packed our flip flops (and musical gear) and headed to the coast for the summer.

And, that’s where LATITUDE was born.

We performed 11 shifts a week that summer, which left us with 1 ½ days off to rest our voices and enjoy some (quiet) beach time. We were in love. We were living at the beach. We were playing music TOGETHER. Life was good, but it was about to get better.

Often, after our evening shows, we would walk over to Scotty’s, a local beach bar. The manager, Terry Bock, had the uncanny ability to bring people together. When he said, “Let me introduce you to…” you were about to meet a lifelong friend.

We got to know Terry (and, a LOT of people) that summer. He asked us to play at Scotty’s, but with only 1 ½ days off a week, we weren’t up to the challenge. More importantly, Scotty’s was our hangout, where we could relax and just be “us”, not “Latitude”.

Now, with summer in the rear-view mirror, our beach gig was coming to an end. We weren’t ready to return to Nashville just yet, and Terry asked us once again about playing at Scotty’s. This time, we said yes. It was a decision that would change our lives forever.

As luck would have it, Scotty’s was where many of the local Parrot Heads hung out.

They embraced our music and welcomed us into the Parrot Head culture. Terry made all the introductions, grinning from ear to ear each time another friendship was formed.

We began to attract a local following, and soon, Scotty’s was packed. (And, Terry was smiling even more!)

We were now newlyweds, living the life of our dreams, with wonderful friends and a place to play our music. We had it all. Then, Terry suddenly passed away. Gone. The loss was huge, our beach community was rocked.

A memorial was planned at Scotty’s. As Michelle was thinking about all the friendships that existed because of one man, this song flowed through her in a matter of minutes.

We played it at Terry’s memorial to honor our friend, never expecting to play it again.

But, songs that are written from the heart have a way of hanging on.

People began requesting “Terry’s song”. We started ending our shows with the song, explaining who and what it was about. And, people began to form a circle of friendship, swaying and singing along.

Soon, people were saying, “You should make a CD. We need to have that song.”

Several CD’s and 20+ years later, the circle of friendship continues to grow.

We were “reborn” at Scotty’s when we met Terry Bock. Our lives were changed forever.

We’ve dedicated our musical career to carrying on his legacy – bringing people together through our music, the way Terry brought people together at Scotty’s. We want our fans to experience the same love and friendship we encountered when “two musicians walked into a bar”, all those years ago.

Smooth Sailing, Terry. Thanks for everything.
— Tom and Michelle Becker, Latitude

Keep up with Tom and Michelle on their website where you can purchase their music or find where they are performing live: Latitude

Watch this great video of Latitude’s story and performing “Smooth Sailing”

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