"Arkansas Mud"

© 1973, 1974 Lee Ruth & Jessi Glennon

Dave Bandy
Dave Bandy - Vocal & Slide Guitar
  MP3 Sample of Lee's Original


Song Lyrics:
Lee's Lyrics:
Arkansas mud, Arkansas mud
Slippin' through my toes,
We tried to move out
But the cars couldn't go
Arkansas mud, Arkansas mud
The rain keeps a-pourin' down
If I even had my boots
I might try to walk around
The tent's got water on the floor
River's runnin' out the door--took my baby
Under the floor, there's even more
Arkansas mud.

Arkansas mud, Arkansas mud
It's another night spent
Treadin' water in the tent
Wonderin' where my baby went
Arkansas mud, Arkansas mud
She's the woman I love
She was born and raised
In the Arkansas mud.
The sky is getting light
Looks like the end of the night
There's not another thing in sight
But the Arkansas mud.

Arkansas mud, Arkansas mud
Well it's really gettin' old, and really gettin' cold
There ain't nothin' colder, than a late winter flood
When ole man river's rolling all over this Arkansas mud
And I'd gladly sell my last dime
For another chance to feel this fine
Truckin' down the Arkansas line
In the Arkansas mud.

Arkansas mud, Arkansas mud
Slippin' through my toes, try to move on out, but the cars couldn't go
Arkansas mud, Arkansas mud
The rain keeps a pourin' down, if I even had my boots, I might try to walk around

The tent's got water on the floor
And the river runnin' out the door took my baby
And underneath the floor is even more Arkansas mud

Arkansas mud, Arkansas mud
And it's another night I spent, treadin' water in the tent, wonder where my baby went
Arkansas mud, Arkansas mud
She's a woman I love, she was born and raised in the Arkansas mud

The sky is getting light
Looks like the end of the night
And the only other thing in sight is Arkansas mud

Arkansas mud, Arkansas mud
Well you know it's as cold, and every bit as bold
As a late winter flood on Old Man River
As he rolls all over Arkansas Mud

But I'd gladly sell you my last dime
For another chance to feel this fine
Truckin' on down the Arkansas line
In the Arkansas Mud
Arkansas Mud
Arkansas Mud
Arkansas mud
Arkansas mud

Artist on the Song:
Lee on the Song:
During the summer of 1979 I met and romanced a lady singer-songwriter by the name of Jessi Glennon. She and Lee had collaborated on several songs prior to that time, and through her I met Lee. Shortly after that Jessi died in a car wreck. I recorded a poem of hers on two albums, "Curly Joe Harper" and my own, "Naked Dave." When Lee found out that I was to be involved in this project, he relearned "Arkansas Mud," a song that he and Jessi co-wrote on a camping trip in 1973, "a nearly true story," according to Lee. So this song is a double treat for me to get to bring to the table. It was the third weekend in April 1973, and as I had done every third weekend in April since 1965, I drove down to Mountain View, Arkansas, for the Arkansas Folk Festival. A number of friends from Columbia had made their separate ways there also, and some of us were camping out in a park-like area on the edge of town. I set up a nine-foot-square canvas cabin tent with my air mattress on the floor and sleeping bag atop it. Since there was sleeping space in the back of my old orange van, I'd agreed to let several friends sleep there, and my friend Jessi Glennon had set up her bedroll in the tent. The first evening of the festival, we were all up at the town square listening to groups of bluegrass and old-timey musicians jamming when the sky opened up, and it must have rained five inches in the next several hours. Water was standing a foot or two deep in the low corner of the square, and though we found a dry spot out of the rain to wait out the storm, we were apprehensive about how the tent and campsite might be faring. It was well past midnight when we finally slogged our way back to camp and discovered that the van was parked high and dry, but the tent had a newly formed muddy-water creek flowing under and through it. Opening the tent door, I found my air mattress afloat with a soggy sleeping bag still atop it, and my guitar case, still reasonably dry, atop both of them. Too wet to even think about sleeping in the tent, Jessi and I climbed into the van. The bed-space in the back was already occupied by snoring friends, so we were relegated to the driver's seat and passenger seat respectively, with the engine compartment between us. We were too wet, too wired, too tired, and too uncomfortable to even think about going to sleep, so we spent the rest of the night talking. About daybreak, during a lull in the conversation, I picked up a notebook I kept handy, opened it to the first blank page, wrote "Arkansas mud, Arkansas mud," and handed Jessi the notebook and pen. She wrote, "Slippin' through my toes, tried to move on out, but the cars couldn't go," and handed it back to me. In my most creative and imaginative fashion I wrote again, "Arkansas mud, Arkansas mud," and handed her the notebook again. She wrote, "The rain keeps a pourin' down, if I even had my boots, I might try to walk around." That's about as far as we got with it before we fell asleep sitting up. When we got back to Columbia several days later, at the first opportunity I sat down with the notebook, wrote some more words to embellish the story of our watery adventure, found a melody and a guitar part to fit the words, and we had us a song.
Artist on Lee Ruth:
Lee on the Artist:
I think it took a while for me to wholely appreciate the genius that Lee possesses. I was into a more "in your face" style of music. Lee's genius is in gentle understated tones of absolute purity and honesty. He is the truest of troubadours, the bardest of bards, and the patriarch of acoustic music in this area. I think I met Dave in 1977, around the time I started playing my regular Wednesday night gig at the Glad-Stone Manufacturing Company, a roadhouse on the south edge of Columbia. The Glad-Stone was owned by Ron Lee and was a great place to hang out, for music and good company. I've heard it described as a working-class hippie bar, and Dave became somewhat of a regular there. The year or so before Jessi moved back to her native North Carolina, Dave and Jessi became close friends, and all of us were dismayed to hear of her death in an automobile accident in 1980. I played Wednesdays at the Glad-Stone until Ron sold the bar in 1985. By that time, Dave was established playing music around the area. Frequently his performances have been in rural Boone County rather than in town, often in close proximity to the Missouri River. I remember playing with him at Ron Lee's fiftieth birthday party in the early 90s. I can't remember what song it was, but I do remember that we found a really exciting groove on it that took the song to some new place for each of us, if I may presume to speak for him as well as myself. When this album project came into being and I heard that Dave was interested in doing a song, I immediately thought of "Arkansas Mud" because we were both good friends of my co-writer, Jessi Glennon, and I was pleased but not surprised when he did indeed select it. I think Dave and I both consider the inclusion of this song, which she co-wrote with me, to be an opportunity to pay tribute to our late friend.
Producer's Notes:
Recording Credits:
Naked Dave Bandy did a wonderful slide guitar arrangement of "Arkansas Mud." We recorded this live to two tracks, and thanks go to Dave for hanging in there on multiple takes. Dave had put new strings on his guitar before he came to the studio, which just wasn't giving him or us the sound we wanted. Jerome Wheeler (associate ears on this project) had his brand new Martin at the studio; so halfway through takes we switched to it for this recording. We used a combination of microphones and a sweet pickup in that new Martin to get the fullness of depth on "Arkansas Mud." At one point during the session, I went into the studio to try and get Dave to relax a bit by telling him I wanted him to close his eyes and think about sitting on a porch down at the Missouri River. I think you can hear and feel that soft river mud squishing between his toes.

Recorded at Pete Szkolka's Studio

Record Date: 3/20/03

Recorded live to two-track



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