Album Notes by Mark

This collection of sketches was recorded using GarageBand on my iBook G4 while I attended graduate school at The University of Texas at Austin (2006-2008). The sketches are short and limited to about 4 tracks because that’s all my laptop could handle. Most were recorded using my Takamine EG-330C that I bought used at a guitar shop in South Austin. Others were recorded using my Treker solid body.

Performing in Austin
Performing at an open-mic night in Austin with my friend, Arthur (2007).

“Great Salt Lake” — The night I arrived home from Austin during Christmas Break ’06, I stayed up late playing my guitar and recording this sketch in the basement. The next morning, my mom was surprised that she hadn’t heard me playing and awoken in the night.

“Clarence Yojimbo” — The title for this sketch comes from a character in Alan Mendelssohn, the Boy from Mars by Daniel Pinkwater. If I remember correctly, Clarence is a Venusian who rides in a Harley gang, but can travel through different dimensions to get to Earth. Although this sketch turned out muddy, I really like it and hope to give it the polish it deserves.

“Farmers Market” — This is the only sketch in this collection that features drums. It’s also the only one that’s in 4/4 time. One of the failings of that generation of GarageBand is that it only included drum lines in 4/4 time.

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge
Visiting the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge (2001).

“Blackwater” — During my two years in Texas, I spent a lot of time learning about my great-grandfather, Clarence Cottam, who was a prominent scientist and conservationist in the early environmental movement. After a career in the federal government, he spent the last two decades of his life directing the Rob and Bessie Welder Wildlife Foundation in Sinton, Texas. My Uncle Dwayne once told me that the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge on the Eastern Shore of Maryland was my great-grandfather’s favorite place to visit. I was lucky to visit that refuge in early 2001.

“Bridges” — I remember being surprised when I finished this sketch that I had written something that sounded so triumphant. When I listened to this song, I imagined an aerial view of the Brooklyn (or some such) Bridge. Little did I know I would later live in Brooklyn and walk across that bridge!

“Castles” — I like the lead line of this sketch and think it has potential. It made me think of castles under an overcast sky. Little did I know I would later visit a Scottish castle in the rain!

“Midway Manor” — The title of this sketch suggests that I recorded it during Christmas Break ’07. Midway is a scenic little town in Utah that I visited with a group of friends.

“Remuda” — This is supposed to be an upbeat and happy song (see the MIDI versions below), but this version ended up being rather sad and tragic. I recall recording the vocal line hunched over at my friend’s house trying to sing quietly enough not to be overheard by those in a nearby room. The overall effect is a poignant vulnerability — the sweetness that might have been.

“Great Salt Lake (feat. Ryan Gee)” — A major project I worked on during my time in Texas was interviewing the pioneers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the San Antonio area. This song served as the ending credits music for each video clip of my interviews. Ryan Gee, a talented musician, was my roommate for my first year in Austin and very kindly added piano and other elements to my humble guitar track to make it sound reflective, intriguing, and rooted in home — very appropriate for its purpose and subject matter!

“Remuda (MIDI)” — This is the original sketch of this song. I created it during my undergrad years at BYU, probably in 2004 or 2005. It was influenced by No Doubt’s cover of “It’s My Life” that was popular at the time. More generally, it was influenced by Peter Hook’s bass playing style.

“Remuda (MIDI – 2019)” — This MIDI sketch was created during Christmas Break ’19 and features old video game sounds.