Dana Cooper - Made of Mud
Click on a track to play
Dana Cooper, (615) 438-3262

https://www.stewartmgmt.com terri@stewartmgmt.com

click here to go to Dana Cooper-Music Page

“Best Male Songwriter Award” by Indie Acoustic Project

Made Of Mud

Made of Mud was the second time I worked in the studio with my old friend Richard McLaurin. Richard is one of those amazing people who seem to be able to do anything they put their mind to. A multi-instrumentalist, singer, engineer, producer, arranger, mechanic, photographer, all in one. He was managing the iconic House of David Studios on Music Row for owner and icon in his own right, David Briggs. David gave Richard the go ahead to produce a few projects dear to his heart, and since we had long wanted to work with one another, we began pre-production.

First, Richard video recorded me performing 25 or so songs. He then studied the recording and chose 15 songs for us to start with. We began the sessions with Dave Jacques on electric and upright bass, and Paul Griffith on drums and percussion. The three of us played everything live together in the old Victorian house with the stained glass window looking down on us.

We recorded onto 2 inch tape just as I had on most of my previous albums. Once we narrowed the song down to eleven that we were pleased with I began re-singing everything in the isolation booth that Elvis Presley once sang in. One day while we took a break I played my version of Woody Guthrie's "Pretty Boy Floyd." Richard immediately sent us back into the studio and we cut it live, guitar, bass, and drums.

Richard brought in a choice group of players and singers to put the icing on our cake. Eric Fritsch played piano, clarinet, b3, slide guitar, and samples. Richard provided electric guitar, steel guitar, mandolin, synth, percussion, and vocals. Steve Hermann played trumpet and Flugelhorn.

Another dear friend, John Condon released the CD on his new label, King Easy Records. Tohru Nakamura, who I first met in New York City when I was an Elektra artist in 1973, drove to Nashville to take photos for the project. Needless to say, Made of Mud is dear to my heart because of the friends who believed in me and gave their best to the project.

Dana Cooper-Acoustic Guitar, Harmonica, Vocals
Dave Jacques-Upright and Electric Bass
Paul Griffith-Drums and Percussion
Adam Bednarik-Electric Bass
Richard McLaurin-Electric Guitar, steel Guitar, Mandolin, Synth, Percussion, Vocals
Eric Fritsch-Piano, Clavinet, B3, Slide Guitar, Samples
Steve Hermann-Flugelhorn, Trumpet
Vickie Hampton-Vocals

Recorded-House of David, Nashville, Tennessee
Produced, Recorded, and Mixed-Richard McLaurin
Assistant Engineer-Adam Bednarik
Mastered-Yes Master by Jim DeMain
Photography-Tohru Nakamura
Art Direction, Design, Art Work-Linda Lou Marks

Order of Songs on Made Of Mud:

1-Step Into the Light (2:58) (Featured Track)

Songwriter:Dana Cooper, Shake Russell
Publishing & PRO:
Dog Eared Music / Bluewater Music / SESAC /
Shake Russell Music / BMI
Administered: Bluewater Music

In 1976 I lived in San Francisco. Music gigs were rare so I worked on Fisherman's Wharf as a warehouseman, drove a Yellow Cab, and did whatever it took to survive. I shared a row house with three other people. One of them was Shake Russell, and old friend and bandmate from Kansas City in the 60's. Over a few months Shake and I wrote a handful of songs that we would eventually record with a band in
Texas. One day I came home from work with this scene of a showdown in my head. The protagonist was someone who was wise enough to walk away when they could potentially destroy their adversary.
I'd been playing around with a cool guitar riff that became the bed for the intro and verses. Shake and I sat at the kitchen table and wrote the song in a few hours. For some reason this is another tune that never was recorded and I was excited to capture it with this group of musicians. Once again Richard McLaurin brought a funky groove and production complete with gospel style piano and quirky organ.

2-Bird on the Wing (4:19) (Featured Track)

Songwriter: Dana Cooper
Publishing & PRO:
Dog Eared Music / Bluewater Music / SESAC
Administered: Bluewater Music

In the summer of 1967 I went to my first "love in" in Kansas City, MO about 18 miles from where I lived in Independence. As a Catholic high school kid I wasn't allowed to grow my hair. I wore the school uniform of white shirt and blue bow tie with navy slacks. Decidedly unhip. But on the weekends I put on my jeans, moccasin boots, pearl snap shirt, love beads and peace symbol and rode the bus down to Volker Park near the University of Missouri. There, several thousand people would gather to hear local bands play music all day. I'd take my Gibson guitar in hopes of jamming with other musicians.

One day I met a young girl who sat in the grass playing a flute quite well. I introduced myself and we played some songs and talked. After a while Jessie said she needed to go home for her sister's wedding that afternoon. My father had just given me a 1960 Dodge Belvedere that he bought from a friend of his at the steel mill where he worked. He paid $100 for the car but it was a treasure to me. Primered with big fins, push button transmission, and big couch seats. I offered Jessie a ride home in my chariot and she accepted. As she directed me through the streets of Kansas City we headed into Mission Hills, where some of the wealthiest families in Kansas City live. We pulled up to a castle of a house and she took me in to meet her family. They were not impressed and openly insulted me. We saw one another a couple of more times but Jessie's family continued to dissuade her from seeing me.

Decades later I wrote "Bird on the Wing" during a long drive home from Texas. Richard McLaurin played the pedal steel guitar on this recording. I love the feeling of melancholy it brings to the song.

3-Sit This One Out (3:39)

Songwriter: Dana Cooper
Publishing & PRO:
Dog Eared Music / Bluewater Music / SESAC
Administered: Bluewater Music

Reading about the power of the Montgomery bus boycott of 1955 & 1956 inspired "Sit This One Out." This political and social protest against segregation was a seminal event in the Civil rights Movement. Boycotts are an effective and peaceful way to influence social change so I chose to write a song about it.

It took a while to narrow down the lyric, to target religious, economic, and political factions in what I thought was the most effective way. Richard McLaurin's electric guitar lines drive this song in a powerful way making it the most rocking track of the project.

4-Nothing to Fear (3:08)

Songwriter: Dana Cooper
Publishing & PRO:
Dog Eared Music / Bluewater Music / SESAC
Administered: Bluewater Music

I wrote "Nothing to Fear" around 1981. Linda and I were living in a sweet little apartment in an old brick building across from the freeway in
Houston Texas. At the time I was part of a popular band there. I was up late after returning home from a local concert. Linda was finally asleep and I stayed up with the lights off watching the passing traffic outside. A melancholy guitar melody came to me which led to a reflective lyric about feeling alone in a crowd of people. All this became a meditation on the strength and adaptability of love.

Producer Richard McLaurin had a vision for "Nothing to Fear" that included B3 and flugelhorn. Sine I had lived with this song for so long it was difficult to hear it in a new way. This is the genius of someone like Richard, the ability to bring a fresh new approach to arranging that actually improves the song. It didn't take long for me to appreciate his suggestions.

5-Pretty Boy Floyd (3:21)

Songwriter:Woody Guthrie
Publishing and PRO: Sanga Music, Inc. / BMI
Administered:Bluewater Music

Like many songwriters I was greatly influenced by Woody Guthrie early on. Most of Woody's songs I first heard performed by other artists. I learned "Pretty Boy Floyd" from a Joan Baez album in the 1960's. Over the years I developed my own arrangement. It took a long time but with Richard McLaurin's encouragement we recorded the song live with Dave Jacques on upright bass and Paul Griffith on drums. Stripped down the song has a raw feeling of immediacy that fits the message well.

6-Comic Tragedy (3:48)

Songwriter:Dana Cooper
Publishing and PRO:
Dog Eared Music / Bluewater Music / SESAC
Administered by: Bluewater Music

"Comic Tragedy" was written around 1986 for my band DC3. We were a power trio and the songs I wrote during that time were a big departure from what I had been doing musically. During this time I enjoyed experimenting with time signatures and wildly varying topics. DC3 played a lot of college clubs and people would actually dance to most of our songs. Watching the crowd try to dance to this number was particularly hilarious.

When I played this song for Richard McLaurin his eyes lit up. He was excited for us to record something completely different for the project and I loved the fact that he wanted to resurrect "Comic Tragedy." Richard added the scratchy LP sound throughout the song and brought in Steve Hermann to play a parallel trumpet part to my harmonica lines. The effect is strange and haunting.

7-Right Out Loud (3:18)

Songwriter:Dana Cooper
Publishing and PRO:
Dog Eared Music / Bluewater Music / SESAC
Administered by: Bluewater Music

While attending a friend's party I heard my wife Linda laughing in the next room. Out of all the voices and laughter her's stood out unmistakably. In that moment I was reminded of how precious our loved ones are and how important it is that we tell them we love them every chance we get. That was the seed that grew into "Right Out Loud."
Listening to the basic tracks of guitar, drum, and bass it became obvious that the song would benefit from the addition of keyboards. Eric Fritsch did a lovely job on piano and B3 and Richard McLaurin's electric guitar and samples brought a sparkling ambience to the production.

8-Made of Mud (4:06)

Songwriter:Dana Cooper
Publishing and PRO:
Dog Eared Music / Bluewater Music / SESAC
Administered by: Bluewater Music

My first conscious memory of childhood goes back to a time before I could talk. I remember my father George holding me in his arms on the front porch of the farmhouse we lived in. I was filled with a sense of wonder at the sunrise over the alfalfa fields and overwhelmed with feelings of love for my father. It was a strange feeling to have a sense of what I wanted to say yet know I had no language to express it.

Many years later I reflected on this moment and wrote "Made of Mud."
The guitar tuning I borrowed from Richard Thompson and it brought an anthemic feel to the song. I never envisioned keyboards for the recording but Richard McLaurin once again took the production to a new and interesting place.

9-Death is a Door (3:56)

Songwriter:Dana Cooper
Publishing and PRO:
Dog Eared Music / Bluewater Music / SESAC
Administered by: Bluewater Music

The inspiration for "Death is a Door" came while experimenting with an open DADGAD guitar tuning. I happened onto this melancholy riff that fit well with an idea for the personification of death. I've always believed that death is a doorway to the next life, whatever that may
be. On this recording Dave Jacques played the eerie opening strains on the upright bass with a bow across the strings near the bridge. By mid-song Richard McLaurin added atmospheric synth lines to the stark arrangement. By song's end Paul Griffith entered with a driving rock drum beat lifting the song to a place of power and promise.

10-Empty Glass (2:59)

Songwriter:Dana Cooper, Linda Marks
Publishing and PRO:
Dog Eared Music / Bluewater Music / SESAC
Administered by: Bluewater Music

My wife Linda Lou Marks and I wrote "Empty Glass" as a play on the old question "is the glass half empty or half full." I had been playing around with this bluesy guitar and harmonica piece and we began riffing on lyrics. This simple song became one of the most produced tracks on "Made of Mud." Richard McLaurin's mandolin along with Eric Fritsch's keyboards and slide guitar made for a rocking track.

11-World of Hurt (3:47)

Songwriter:Dana Cooper, Michael Lille
Publishing and PRO:
Dog Eared Music / Bluewater Music / SESAC / Downstream Lean / BMI
Administered by: Bluewater Music

Just days before the 2003 Iraq invasion Michael Lille and I wrote "World of Hurt." We were both in Austin at the same time for different reasons and got together for a short visit. I'd just seen a Time Magazine cover of a young soldier reading a Valentine as he sat before a line of armored vehicles preparing to attack. The irony of the illustration stuck with me. Michael and I talked about the sense of dread we felt for the war that was about to happen. The circle of violence and war that follows humanity throughout history, the sacrifice society asks it's soldiers to make, the impending invasion of Iraq, all coalesced in a very short time.

For the production on this song Richard McLaurin stripped it down to me on acoustic guitar and Adam Bednarik on electric bass.


Out of the heartland of America, stomping grounds of Truman and Twain, “powerhouse” troubadour Dana Cooper dedicated himself to a life of music over 40 years ago. This song poet engages and inspires audiences around the world with his quick wit, insightful stories and commanding presence. He is the recipient of the 2014 Heritage Musician award from Pilgrim Center for the Arts in Kansas City, MO. He was also named the 2015 Spirit of Folk award winner by Folk Alliance International. He has performed on Austin City Limits, Mountain Stage and the Kerrville Folk Festival where he was nominated for their Hall of Fame. Cooper’s songs have been recorded by top-notch artists such as bluegrass star Claire Lynch; Irish vocalist Maura O’Connell; and luminary songwriters Pierce Pettis and Susan Werner. Cooper’s mixture of flat-picking, finger-picking and percussive strumming style is legend among other guitarists. An expressive singer his voice is ageless evoking a rich lifetime of experience.

At 12 he sang, played drums, guitar and harmonica in local bands. By 13 he began writing his own songs and at 16 he performed regularly at the prestigious Vanguard Coffeehouse in Kansas City. His deep love and commitment to a life of music drew Cooper away from an art scholarship. Cooper took to the road touring midwest college coffeehouses for one year then sold an electric guitar and his entire record collection to buy a one-way ticket to Los Angeles. Four months later he was signed to Elektra Records where his eponymous first album was released in 1973. The record features such acclaimed players as Leland Sklar, Russ Kunkel and Jim Horn.Years later he returned to San Francisco City College to study another great love, horticulture. Still he played whenever possible in clubs all over the Bay Area. Cooper’s diverse experiences as a taxi driver, warehouseman, nurse’s aid, gardener, waiter and touring musician continued to bring maturity and depth to his songwriting.

Cooper eventually moved to Texas writing, performing and recording with Shake Russell in the late 70s and with his own power trio, DC3 during the early 80s. Returning to his roots as a solo performer Cooper relocated to Nashville in 1988. He has become an integral figure in the Music City songwriting community collaborating with renowned writers such as Tom Kimmel, Sally Barris, Kim Carnes and Don Henry. Cooper has been invited to participate in songwriting workshops from Belfast to Copenhagen to Austin.

His prolific endeavors have resulted in 28 albums. The critically acclaimed Miracle Mile on Compass Records was nominated for a Nashville Music Award as “Best Pop Album” and was chosen by Performing Songwriter magazine as one of the top DIY recordings for the year. Harry Truman Built a Road was named one of the best records of 2002 by The Tennessean and was also chosen as one of the top twelve DIY recordings for that year. Made of Mud released on King Easy Records in 2005 won Cooper the “Best Male Songwriter Award” by Indie Acoustic Project. Working with co-producer/guitarist Thomm Jutz, Cooper released his 27th album, Building a Human Being, in September, 2015.


Kerrville Folk Festival (Texas)

Belfast/Nashville Songwriters Festival (N. Ireland)

Napa Valley Music Festival (California)

Copenhagen Songwriters Festival (Denmark)


The Bluebird Café (Nashville, TN)

The Cactus Café (Austin, TX)

Anderson Fair (Houston, TX)

Berlin Guitars (Berlin, Germany)

McCabe’s (Santa Monica, CA)

The Birchmere (Alexandria,VA)

Passim (Cambridge, MA)
  • Members:
    Dana Cooper
  • Sounds Like:
    Paul Simon, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Shawn Colvin, Paul McCartney, Richard Thompson
  • Influences:
    Richard Thompson, Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, Hank Williams, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Buffy St. Marie, The Band
  • AirPlay Direct Member Since:
  • Profile Last Updated:
    01/11/19 15:23:58
DAddario tru-strobe pedal tuner

"Radio Creds" are votes awarded to artists by radio programmers who have downloaded their music and have been impressed with the artist's professionalism and the audience's response to the new music. Creds help artists advance through the AirPlay Direct community.

Only radio accounts may add a Radio Cred. One week after the track has been downloaded the radio account member will receive an email requesting a Cred for each artist they've downloaded.