©2010 Napoleon Washington – All rights reserved.

Mud & Grace


Mud & Grace is Napoleon Washington’s third album. It comprises 12 original compositions, one track by Zachary Richard.

« It struck me that to this point, I had very carefully compartmentalized my work. I’ve never mixed my activities in design with my career as a musician. But I do have a degree in graphics, and I incidentally work jobs for the video industry.
I figured it would be interesting to see if I’d be able to combine both activities in a single project, to try and translate more accurately what little musical universe I’ve been coming up with so far. »
« It was only once preproduction was achieved that the idea to add an extra and unusual graphic dimension to Mud & Grace was considered. From there on, the album logically had to be made available online. »
« It was obvious. Not only has the technical efficiency of the medium greatly improved, along with its ubiquitous and universal capability as a broadcast facility, but the very nature of the project gave the attempt a real meaning… I reckoned it would be interesting to try something new, but I needed for it to make sense. Now due to the combination of music and motion graphics, the album could hardly exist elsewhere than on the net.
Finally, I have to admit that for a modest operation like mine, trying to figure out ways to distribute truckloads of records worldwide is pretty elusive, to say the least.
But despite Mud & Grace being a new formal attempt for me, I’d like it to be, first and foremost, as much an album as my two previous releases. »

Ashes from Ashes

Mud & Grace

Salt Water

Blue Curls of Smoke

Some Say They Have To

Come Down, Blues

Write Yourself a Letter

It’ll Be Poison

The Day I get in Monroe

My Love Like a Tree

The Top of the Shelf

Peephole Dawn

Produced by : Napoleon Washington


Guitars, Vocals, Piano, Bass,Percussion & Graphics : Napoleon Washington

Upright Bass : Simon Gerber

Drums, Percussion : Raphaël Pedroli

Bass Clarinets, Soprano Clarinet : Jean-François Lehmann

Backing Vocals : Tomcat Blake


Recording and premix by Napoleon Washington at Glapor Sound, Switzerland

Endmix and mastering by Fabian Schild at Studio Mécanique, Switzerland


A question of style


How could Washington’s music be described? Apparently, Washington himself doesn’t seem to care. Why?


« Frankly, it’s pretty irrelevant to me. You see, I’m the last one who needs to know something like that. Categories are useless to me. It makes sense if you own a record shop, but other than that… I don’t feel the need to belong to anything, for that matter ».


So has Washington come up with a style of his own?


« God no. That would be incredibly arrogant of mine. I did not create anything, I took everything I know in the music I isten to. Mostly blues, by the way ».

Is Washington a bluesman then?


« I doubt it. Seriously, the love I got for the blues doesn’t make me a bluesman, it doesn’t work that way. I am white, I was born in Europe and I did not spend half of my life in the US ; you know, if I would meet someone with this kind of background who would call himself a bluesman, I certainly wouldn’t want to listen to his music. And maybe I’d miss something real good… That’s why I hate categorization. It’s a poison for curiosity ».

Still, there must be musical influences worth mentioning for Washington.


« Of course. I have my own little pantheon. James Booker, Dr. John, Skip James, Son House, JB Lenoir, Donny Hathaway, Albert King… Or the Rolling Stones, Jay-Z, Bill Frisell. Just about anything that moves me. I take a lot there, but it doesn’t mean I’m trying to imitate anybody.
It may sound strange, but I’m somehow more influenced directly by literature than I am by music. Or by painting, or movies…
Fundamentally, African-American culture is what interests me, as much socially and historically than through its different expressions. Where do Swing, Jazz, Blues or Rap come from is more meaningful to me than trying to define them precisely. And how does Vodun from Benin become Voodoo in the South, through Caribbean Vaudou ?
That’s far more fascinating to me than to study ‘what note is supposed to be played when’ to sound like so and so ».


Jean Grin


Come Down, Blues

Come down, blues
I know it’s you out there
Come down, blues
I can feel your stare
So you done found me again
You’re ready to take hold of my day one more time
Leave me howling
And it’s not even sunrise


Ashes from Ashes

Ashes to ashes and
Dust to dust
If the rambling don’t kill him
Then a woman must
I heard that so many times
But here’s what I found
Would’nt it be just fine
The other way around
Make it ashes from ashes
And dust from dust

I speak in my own name
And I live on my own choice
But many long gone friends
Sing through my voice
I’m made of those
Who done fed my soul
The seed from which I rose
Was planted long ago
Make it ashes from ashes
And dust from dust

And when I’m six by six, my friends
I doubt I’ll ever care
It won’t make much difference
Just what got me there
All in the world I’ll ever need
Not to be quite gone
Is just someone to hit
On the play button
To make it ashes from ashes
And dust from dust


Blue Curls of Smoke

I said I have no clue
What cherry wine tastes like
She said do you
Wanna give it a try (rep)
And there was blue
Curls of smoke
Above the ashtray

I said I really do
Love the taste of that cherry wine
She said you
Can have more if you like (rep)
And there was blue
Curls of smoke
Above the ashtray

Now the bottle is empty
The ashes are cold
She said my tree
Grows no cherries no more

You don’t miss your water
Until the well runs dry
You’ll never miss your water
Like I miss my cherry wine (rep)
Now gone like blue
Curls of smoke
Above the ashtray

Gone like blue
Gone like blue
Curls of smoke
Above the ashtray


Mud & Grace

Ain’t no place like home Baby
But there’s no burden like fate
Ain’t no place like home
But close your eyes is all it takes
You know I got so tired
To try to find my own place
I’m bound Baby yes I am
To my land of
Mud and grace

Enough of need, enough of try
And far enough of crave
Enough warning, enough advice
And enough of this won’t last
I’ve never let nobody
Put a finger in my face
I’m bound Baby yes I am
To my land of
Mud & Grace

A li’l bit of dirt
Of beauty and of craze
A li’l bit of rust
Some to love and some to hate
I wanna be amused
And I wanna be amazed
I’m bound Baby yes I am
To my land of
Mud & Grace

And if I don’t find it
Then I’ll have to set up the place
With shine, shade and grit
In just the right balance
You know I got so tired
To try to find my own place
I’m bound Baby yes I am
To my land of
Mud & Grace


The Day I get in Monroe

The day I get in Monroe
I’ll gather a few memories
Find me a silver spoon and dig a hole
The day I get in Monroe
I’ll think a bit of you and me
And I won’t bother to call
The day I get in Monroe
The day I get in Monroe

Bring over your blind children
Bring over your dead dogs too
Bring me your Saint Louis cousin
Bring over your blind children
I’ll feed them and I’ll heal them too
We’ll mortgage our dreams by the dozen
The day I get in Monroe
The day I get in Monroe

I don’t know where Monroe is
But I’m sure I’ll know when I get there
Monroe is where your next step leads
I don’t know where Monroe is
And I don’t think I really care
Monroe is any place I please
The day I get in Monroe
The day I get in Monroe
The day I get in Monroe


Salt Water

Salt water you see
In my eyes sometimes
Comes from the see
That sets astride
What I long to be
And what keeps me tied

My land of plenty
My times of sorrow
My homeland of empty
My hope of hollow
What belongs to me
I had to borrow

May my love be wider
Than just any ocean
May my heart be stronger
Than the notion
Of a border
Of a nation


Peephole Dawn

It’s about half past me
But I stay lying down
I won’t even breathe
I won’t make a sound
The love you had for me
The love I thought was gone
Is looking up at me
In this peephole dawn

So tiny and fragile
Curled up on my bedside
A little furry animal
Small and terrified
Like a trembling gerbil
With a red wet eye
So precious but so little
Like diamonds for a dime

Maybe I’m not even awake
Maybe I’m just not even there
Maybe the night will fade away
Or maybe I’m dead for all I care
But if the day’s ever to break
What will be left for me to share
Is a thousand and one always
If you got a little time to spare


It’ll Be Poison

It’ll be poison, poison
Cold hands around your neck
Fifty-two jacks of spades are
plotting in the deck
It’ll be poison, poison
They’re coming with the check
They’re buzzing your buzzer brother they are calling collect
It’ll be poison
It’ll be poison

It’ll be poison, poison
Half a grain of strychnine
You been raising to your lips
the kiss of death in disguise
It’ll be poison, poison
Bad words through a bad phone line
You did it now it’s done it ain’t but a matter of time
It’ll be poison
It’ll be poison

It’ll be poison, poison
not much time on your hands
There’s a list at the gate and it has
nine and a half names
It’ll be poison, poison
You shiver in a trance
The government’s advising you
to set your house in flames
It’ll be poison
It’ll be poison

It’ll be poison, poison

Fall down on your knees
You’ll die barking like a dog and you’ll die howlin’ mercy
It’ll be poison, poison

You’re standing in a freeze
High beams straight in your face and a truck horn beepin’ crazy
It’ll be poison
It’ll be poison

It’ll be poison, poison
Turn on the radio
It blares you name all through the dial telling you to go
It’ll be poison, poison
Stand alone in a row
Here’s a silver dollar now please won’t you climb aboard
It’ll be poison
It’ll be poison


The Top of the Shelf

when you couldn’t count to three
Or tie your baby shoes yourself
When you needed help to reach
The top of the shelf

You grew up
Possibly I did too
I was thirty-four when you got twelve
Little Girl, what I’m trying to tell you is
That the older you get
The higher the shelves

So many things that seemed
So hard to understand
Look so easy today
I got a feeling
It’s not gonna be much different
When we’ll get old and gray

I was in love with your Mama
And even if things would be easier
If I wouldn’t love her still
I loved you too and that
I’m glad I always will


Write Yourself a Letter

If you don’t keep on trying
You can’t have things your way (rep)
It’s so hard to make a living
It’s even harder everyday

Feel like a young buck in the morning
Next thing you know you’re old and gray (rep)
There’s no use for your savings
You can’t withdraw your younger days

Just do write yourself a letter
And open it the day you die (rep)
When it’s too late to make things better
You’ll see you had a good time



My Love Like a Tree

My love is like a tree
It is high and tall
My love is like a tree
It’s here to grow old, here to grow old
Just come sit by me
When you tired to carry your load

I’ll bring you cool shade
When comes the summertime
So cool that when the summer fades
You’ll still be by my side, by my side
My love is still and straight
My love can touch the sky

Now let the weather change
Let the winter go by
My love can stand the rain
My love can stand cold times, stand cold times
I know the sun is always
To shine back afterwhile

My love is strong and bold
But when comes the mighty storm
The one that’s gonna make me fall
See me broken and torn, borken and torn
I’ll turn myself into coals
Just to keep you warm



Some Say They Have To

Some say you can trade
Your heart’s leftover molecules
For a part-time fate
Of painless moral abuse
Some call for wars
Some call for fruit loops
Some holler to the stars
Some say they have to

Major ambivalence
One misunderstands
Now every sentence
Starts with “in the other hand”
Some will call you a liar
Some will say you’re wisdom-proof
Some wonder who you are
Some say they have to

Every medal you won
Won’t be of much use anymore
For the first sign of your personal Armageddon
Ain’t but a knock on your door
Some will go far
Some are to fail soon
Some won’t bother the scar
Some say they have to

Be blind to the urge
To set things straight
No one’s to judge
And who’d be to state
Some need no excuse so far
Some would put the finger on you
Some’d shoot a bullet through your heart
Some say they have to