A classic of the psycho hillbilly alternative prog funk genre, "My Name Is Mud" finds Primus frontman Les Claypool
in character as Mud, a deranged fellow who kills a guy by beating him with a baseball bat. Claypool says the guys in the song are tweekers (addicted to meth), and when they get in a fight over something stupid, one of them kills the other. The 1986 movie River's Edge
was an influence.
The line, "Where you goin' city boy?," which shows up at the 3:35 mark, comes from the 1972 movie Deliverance, which is filled with terrifying hillbillies. In the scene, two guys from Atlanta are out in the sticks looking for a river so they can canoe. They get lost and encounter a local who delivers that line.
This was the first single from the third Primus album, Pork Soda. The band didn't fit any specific genre, but that was an asset in 1993, when hip-hop, grunge and metal were colliding. The album sold over a million copies and rose to #7 in the US; Primus got the gig headlining Lollapalooza, a celebration of the strange. "My Name Is Mud" became one of their most popular songs, and a sturdy staple of their setlists.
The video, directed by Mark Kohr, finds Les Claypool playing "Mud" rather convincingly, looking suitably unhinged as he stands over a grave.
This isn't the first Primus song about meth-heads; their 1991 track "Those Damned Blue-Collar Tweekers" is about construction workers that show up for work after doing some crank.
Woodstock 1994 was a muddy festival, so you can probably guess what happened when Primus performed this song. Predictably, a cascade of mud came from the crowd as soon as Les Claypool sang the opening line. He stopped the song to admonish the crowd.
"Boy, I opened a big-ass can of worms with that one," he said. "The song is called 'My Name Is Mud,' but keep the mud to yourselves you son of a bitch. You know, when you throw things up on stage, it's a sign of small and insignificant genitalia."
The band resumed and got through the song without incident.
There's an old story that the expression "my name is mud" derives from Dr. Samuel Mudd, who unwisely took pity on Abraham Lincoln's assassin, John Wilkes Booth. Mudd treated the broken ankle Booth suffered in his leap to the stage of Ford's Theater; for his trouble, he was sentenced to life in a federal prison. But Mudd isn't being commemorated in "his name is mud." The phrase first appeared in print in 1820, 45 years before Lincoln's assassination. It probably originates in another obscure bit of English slang -- "mud" was an eighteenth century equivalent of our "dope" or "dolt" and was used through the nineteenth century by union workers as a rough equivalent of "scab."
Mike - Storyville, United States