The Takoma record was the first studio record you released, but there’s a live recording [12-String Blues, 1969] that dates before that and you sang on that one.
It was on a label called Oblivion. I sang on that one and in the beginning that is all I did. I went quite a while before I ever made a record, working jobs in Illinois and Minnesota, places like that. I first heard John Fahey, who owned Takoma Records, after a job I played in Chicago with a friend of mine. But I was singing back then because – I don’t know. It was that thing that kicked in, just hadn’t quite happened yet.
I was playing the way that I play, pretty much. There’s a kind of voice that you get early on, if you’re ever gonna get one. That was happening on the guitar, but it hadn’t developed yet. I was playing some instrumentals, there was a tune, a title I can’t live with now, but I still get requests for it called “Vaseline Machine Gun”.
That’s actually my favorite title of any of your songs. Where’d that name come from?
It has all kinds of meanings for me. I was actually diving in a quarry and the first guy went in and came out and said it stunk down there. ‘Cause if you go down deep enough in a quarry, it’s filled with gasses – noxious, sulfurous shit. I end up going down and that’s when I thought of the title for the tune. (CONT)