Oh Muddy Waters – The Story Behind The Song

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Many of my songs are based on experiences and special adventures who trigger ideas for melodies or moods.  I like to tell the stories when we perform as it helps listeners to find a deeper connection to the music and the performances.  Here is the story behind “Oh Muddy Waters”  – one of the tunes that we recorded for “The Whole World in Her Hands”.  It’s a bluesy 12/8 tune that has a recurring bass theme that fits the words “Oh Muddy Waters” and horn riffs that can be interpreted as a variety of variations on “Splish, Splash”.  In fact – here is a video of the recording of the song at Avatar studios that also features interview excerpts with the performers, enjoy!

So – here is the story:  In October 2012, Lake Griffy in Bloomington had been drained due to needed repairs at the dam. After a few month, everything seemed pretty dry and people enjoyed walking across the lake bed.  One Sunday afternoon, we decided to walk through the whole lake to the dam, since Peter was working on music about Griffy Lake and wanted to get some video footage of the drying process.  We took our youngest daughter Jasmin and her friend Ellie, both 10 at the time, and took off. The girls enjoyed themselves and got quite adventurous – we crossed a little stream and moved towards the southwest end into the shady areas.  Of course, the bottom of a lake has many layers of mud and only the top layers were really dry.  Eventually the girls hit a wet spot and started sinking into the mud layers – trying to come to the rescue, I got stuck myself.  With the help of branches we pulled everyone out and made our way back to the street – boots, pants, and hands covered in brown layers.  Of course, as we stepped back on the street and looked back we saw a warning sign advising people not to walk on the dried lake due to the dangers of sinking into the mud!

Well – after I got home, I posted our little adventure on Facebook and very quickly there was an avalanche of responses telling me stories of friends and neighbors who had similar experiences and even had to be rescued by firemen after they got stuck in the mud.  And the next morning the Herald Times, our newspaper, called and asked for an interview as they were in the process of writing a story about the dried lake.  The story ended up on the front page and the whole town knew about our Sunday afternoon adventure – the irony being that we have tried for years to get a front page story for our musical events, and there we were  – famous for getting stuck in the mud.  Peter got video footage from before and after the adventure  – here it is.

I actually wrote down the idea with the Oh Muddy Waters bass riff during my stay in Austria that winter.  I snuck away one evening in the Retzhoff Castle to one of the grand pianos with my note pads and got it on paper.  For the recording, I arranged the melody in 3-part harmony for our special combination of flute – alto sax – trombone and Mayra came up with some fantastic percussion ideas.  The recording sounds better than my wildest fantasies!