It’s going to be a long day of here sitting in my basement office looking at PowerPoints and Google slides and spreadsheets and…fuck, who cares? It sucks. Nuff said. The upshot to all this is that I get to listen to ma records all day and, that, my friends, is definitely looking at things from the “glass is half full” perspective. Today, that all begins with another record I brought home from Texas, the ‘Mudlark‘ album by Leo Kottke.
“Mudlark” is a few things:
- Someone who scavenges in river mud for items of value, a term used especially to describe those who scavenged this way in London during the late 18th and 19th centuries.
- A 1950 British film by 20th Century Fox and directed by Jean Negulesco, depicting a fictional account of how Queen Victoria was eventually brought out of her mourning for her dead husband, Prince Albert.
- This debut album for Capitol Records released in 1971.
Kottke is also known for a few things:
- Being an acoustic guitarist known for a finger-picking style that draws on blues, jazz, and folk music, and for syncopated, polyphonic melodies.
- Overcoming a series of personal obstacles, including partial loss of hearing and a nearly career-ending bout with tendon damage in his right hand to emerge as a widely recognized master of his instrument.
- Focusing primarily on instrumental composition and playing, Kottke also sings sporadically, in an unconventional yet expressive baritone described by himself as sounding like “geese farts on a muggy day”.
Thank you Wikipedia.
Recording for this album started in Los Angeles and later moved to Nashville. Four of the cuts were recorded in Wayne Moss’s garage studio in Nashville. The song ‘Room 8‘ is titled after a neighborhood cat who wandered into a classroom in 1952 at Elysian Heights Elementary School in Echo Park, California and lived at the school each winter, leaving in the summer.
So there’s that.
There’s also the down-home high-speed picking of ‘Cripple Creek‘ to the steely bottleneck slide work on ‘June Bug‘ to the Baroque classicism of ‘Bourrée‘ by J.S. Bach, all of it wrapped by Kottke’s wry, surreal wit. And, hey, how can you not love a song called ‘Monkey Lust’? Stylistically, it’s all over the map (as usual), blending traditional folk, bluegrass, blues, singer/songwriter, and classical into his own brand of high-octane eclecticism. However, there’s no mistaking the Leo Kottke “sound”, hard as it might be to label it. It is a landmark early album, which served to increase Kottke’s visibility and help establish his reputation as a homegrown American original.
Today, it’s preventing me from totally loosing my shit here this morning in Corporate Hell.