Texas fatmucket (Lampsilis bracteata)
Texas fatmucket is an endangered bivalve that lives in the creeks and rivers in Central Texas. Picture a clam, a fresh water mussel about the size of a silver dollar. I’ve never seen one. They are hard to find on accounts of them being under water, coupled with being endangered.
I wanted to take a troubled bottom feeder and give it wings, only art can do that. I wanted to write from its point of view, relate to it. I included rural childhood recollections and songwriters who embed landscape into their music.
This song is a blessing for the record so it made since to start with it, plus it thumps and it’s fun. Stephen Belans and the late George Reiff produced this song. George was sick with cancer, but was emphatic that we started with this song so he could put his touch on it before he left to Houston for treatment. That’s John Michael on bass. I heard George tell him he wanted it to sound like the “jawbone of an ass.” I love the low end on this.
Stephen Belans later told me I should make a lyric video for this song due to the puns and double entendres, so I did. Demitrious Judkins (photographer) and I walked around my neighborhood one Saturday spring morning and just rolled film. The video was a good idea, otherwise the first line of the song sounds like “I am big foot,” versus “Iambic foot.” A poet and his work are like a bivalve and her pearls.
I think Saint Paul is about vibrant community, paying some things forward, protecting your sovereignty, and being a landlord. Who do you help in this world? It’s a hard question.
Carl Jung said “the dream drives the action,” and I subscribe to that. So many of my songs come from paying attention to my dreams. “It’s surprising what economists are saying about those who string instruments” is in the song and was said to me in a dream by an old teacher one night while I was in a writing spell. In the dream I was sitting in a busy cafe and he was a waiter and came by carrying a tray of drinks and said it to me. It’s a great line to hear when you are writing a record. It’s extra nice when poetry comes from the spirit. It seems that what comes from the unconscious doesn’t tire in performance.