Well, quite a paradigm shift there a few months back when Wordmule went from sonic persona non grata to a buzz word, thanks to longtime fan Vince Gilligan’s inclusion of it in the first episode on the final year of Breaking Bad. Just before the airing of that episode Wordmule had a grand total of 457 views on Youtube. A few months later the number stands at over fifty thousand—a slightly surreal twist for a song that even devoted fans of mine over the years have shouted, “NO!! DON’T PLAY WORDMULE!!!” when I offered to play it during live shows.
People have asked what the term means and since I coined it, I guess it’s up to me to explain.
The notion came to me during a prolonged period of physiological struggle. I’d been driving a cab in New York City for about ten years (envision Travis Bickel) and was clinically depressed and contemplating suicide. The few friends I had avoided me and there was no shrink to help me get better. As such there was nothing to do but try to talk/write my way out of that dismal hole. So every person who climbed in my cab became my confessor, every stranger on the street who made the mistake of asking me a simple question was assaulted with a tsunami of descriptions of my distress. Mounds of notebooks were filled with rambling screeds. This went on for months until eventually I talked myself out. Words just flat out failed me, I went kind of aphonic for a few weeks, which was phenomenally uncommon for me, and while in that state, wrote the song Wordmule.
Basically the impelling notion behind Wordmule was that at a certain point fringe dwellers like me, pushed to points of extremis, become rendered silent by the immensity of life, of loneliness, of betrayals by self and others, of powers what we cannot comprehend. In the silence that follows we still feel the reflexive urge to define, just as the man with the amputated arm hungers to scratch the itch he feels where his missing limb once was. But when mechanisms of definition like mouths and minds are engaged, nothing proceeds forth from the citadel of thought. Just paralyzed silence.
That happened to me. At that point I had no choice but to surrender to my powerlessness and petition the universe to deliver some unknown “Agent of Grace” to free me from me apoplexy. I called that Agent of Grace, the Wordmule.
The music to the song sort of informs on the seminal notion behind it. I’d never played a slide guitar before that day we recorded the song. It just happened. It was of moment of wild and unhinged abandon and if you listen even casually you can hear just how utterly abysmal my performance is. I begged the producer of the record to hire a real guitar player to redo it, but he knew better, steadfastly insisting we keep the sprawling mess I had recorded. He vowed it would end up in a fight scene in a movie some day. Fifteen years went by, and damn if he wasn’t far off.
There you go. Thanks for checking in.