Vanguard - 79188 - 1966

Relax Your Mind

Jim Kweskin

with Mel Lyman
and Fritz Richmond

Liner notes by Mel Lyman

One night in New York last summer I came driving up to my Bowery loft and who should be parked out in front in his Volkswagen Bus but Jim Kweskin, with Marilyn Kweskin and Agatha. Jim had come up from Florida and we hadn't seen each other for months and for us that's a long time cause we play in the same band together and in fact we even live in the same house (I live in his attic) and so we were bubbling over with things to tell each other. The band had broken up for awhile to give us all a chance to kick around and see who we were and now we had found out a little more about that and it was so beautiful to be together again and we talked all night and jumped up and down and laughed and slapped each other on the backs m'goodness it was so rich to be sharing ourselves with each other like, "Hey man, dig what I found out about myself" and "Too much! Hey, listen to this, you won't believe it" and we had piled up so damn much good feeling to share that just gushing all over each other wasn't enough and Marilyn didn't need it cause she just squats on her chair and smiles and Agatha didn't need it cause she's a dog and everybody knows that dogs are happy so we decided we had to pour it on somebody to keep from busting and so hey man let's trot on down to Vanguard and get it on a record so it doesn't go to waste and so we got in touch with Fritz who plays the washtub bass, beautiful red topped striped shirt Fritz O'Rooney and called up all our friends and down we go the whole bunch of us to the horror of the recording industry but that doesn't matter cause we all feel so groovy that pretty soon everybody feels groovy can you believe it that even the engineers felt groovy hell engineers are people too and there were no studios available so we picked out a friendly little room at least it was friendly after we doused the lights and opened the windows and brought in all our friends and broke out the beer and wine and started playing music, yep, it became a real friendly little room. So we made this record. I think it might have been done unofficially but somehow (it's all in the stars) we got away with it. We threw a party at Vanguard Recording Society Industry in the middle of the night under the guise of conducting a recording session and not only did we create an LP amidst all the joy, we even got paid for it! When they handed me a check I almost laughed out loud but I didn't lose my cool. I simply gasped, checked myself and snapped into the yoga parakarya pretzel position for suppressing mirth, controlling excessive laughter and avoiding undue hysteria, dropped to the floor like a slushy snowball and groaned. Ain't life a gas!

So what I'm trying to say is that we made this record under very loose conditions and it was a real joy to have that kind of freedom in a recording studio, to be able to play music just like you play music instead of like this whole fantastic, schematic, methatic, preconceived and just a little too stern serious and safe scene called "Standard Recording Procedure" wants you to play music. It's not that they dictate what or how but the WHERE is so dreadful, a nightmare of sterility, white soundproof rooms big as barns and red lights flashing on and off and wires, everywhere there's WIRES, all over the floor, hanging from the ceiling, twined around your arms and legs and microphones and ear phones and head phones and telephones and rules and efficiency and a bunch of straight looking cats behind big plate glass windows surrounded by so many kinds of intricate machines that each one must require a specialist to operate it and hurriedly shouting orders and frantically twisting dials and jabbing buttons and a thunderous voice comes booming out of a big loudspeaker that takes up a whole wall and it commands, "Take One" and m'God you hardly know where you're at at all anymore, you can't be sure you're not one of those machines yourself and believe me that's a pretty uninspiring scene to try and make a little music out of, at least for me, and that's why making this album was such a joy, at least for me. Notice I say at least for me because even though I believe that what is true for me is true for everybody Jim has cautioned me that I must practice humility when dealing with the public, at least for me.

Goodbye now, we love you.

---Mel Lyman

The Songs

Jim Kweskin vocal and guitar
Mel Lyman harmonica
Fritz Richmond washtub bass

  1. Sister Kate's Night Out (3:18) is a medley composed of I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate (A. J. Piron), Heebie Jeebies (Boyd Atkins) and Fifteen Cents (Frankie Jaxon).
  2. Hannah (4:04) was learned from an old 78 rpm record by Chris Bouchillion.
  3. Bye and Bye (3:35) is an old Baptist gospel tune.
  4. The Cuckoo (3:59) is a traditional ballad.
  5. I Ain't Never Been Satisfied (2:34) (with Marilyn Kweskin, lead vocal) has new words and music by Jim and Marilyn Kweskin, and is based on children's ring games.
  6. Eight More Miles to Louisville (2:59) was recorded by Grandpa Jones.
  1. I Got Mine* (3:27) was recorded by Pink Anderson on Riverside LP No. 12-611. It is based on an old vaudeville song heard early in the 20th century.
  2. Buffalo Skinners* (5:24) is traditional.
  3. Make Me a Pallet on Your Floor (3:05) is based on W.C. Handy's Atlanta Blues which in turn comes from an old folksong.
  4. Guabi Guabi (3:05) (with Fritz Richmond, 2nd voice) is a Zulu folksong from the Nde-Ele tribe.
  5. My Creole Belle (4:35) was learned from Mississippi John Hurt
  6. Relax Your Mind (3:55) was learned from Leadbelly.
* recorded at Club 47, Cambridge, Mass

Self-portrait of Mel Lyman from the Relax Your Mind album jacket.

(Detail from the album cover with photo of Fritz Richmond, Mel Lyman, and Jim Kweskin.
Photo by Michael Harvest; design by Bob Ross.)

Fritz Richmond, Bill Keith, Mel Lyman, Jim Kweskin, Maria Muldaur, Geoff Muldaur