Paul Ott / A Message to Mankind

“Paul Ott Carruth has captured the sheer music of nature in a blend of song and sound with the simplicity of a single guitar, a soft voice and natural sounds heard only in the great outdoors.” (liner notes, A Message to Mankind, circa 1972)

“To thousands of wildlife conservationists in all fifty states, the name Paul Ott means a single voice singing out a message to conserve a place for wild things and wild places for future generations to enjoy as we have before them.

To industry, his name means a sensible philosophy of conservation, not preservation. He believes in the economic growth of our Country.” (from, 2004)

Once upon a time, Paul Ott Carruth was a sensitive troubadour who created this, his only record (aside from one or two 45s I couldn’t get any info about). Today he’s a crusader for prayer in schools and things like that. Which is sad, because I think once upon a time he knew better. Listen to the trembling voice on this record and wonder what happened in Ott’s life that made him want to wrap himself in regionalism, religion and the flag. How does one go from a pointedly secular, humanist, and spiritual work like this album — which Ott never mentions on his website, and which he did not want to discuss when I contacted him — to becoming the “voice of the south” who seems more interested in rolling back the clock and promoting his own name than any worthwhile cause?

I like this record a lot. It notably features a lot of well done animal sound effects, giving it a unique, cheesy flavor. I can see how this album is something to laugh at, and perhaps an embarassment to its creator, but I consider it very real and touching.

This is about as easy to find as any great private press folk record I’m aware of. Somehow Ott was able to finagle distribution with Columbia Records, which explains why you’ll see copies all over the country. I guess in the end this dude is all show business, something you’d never realize just from listening to this record.

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