In 2001 Puddle of Mudd frontman Wes Scantlin was on a fast track to success, living in a Hollywood Boulevard hotel, which Flawless Records put him up in after Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst signed him to the Geffen affiliate. Scantlin had the essentials with him, the clothes on his back, a dream, and an acoustic guitar. What came out of that lonely hotel room would be Puddle of Mudd’s breakthrough record.
Being quickly flown out from his native Kansas City, Scantlin was missing his family and his son most of all. He was trying his best to cope with the whirlwind of the rock lifestyle the only way he knew how to —write a song. What started as a reprieve from chaos would end up being Puddle of Mudd’s biggest hit. That song, “Blurry” kickstarted a list of other chart-toppers from their breakthrough album, Come Clean. It was “Blurry” that topped them all and continues to do so, over 20 years later.
“’Blurry’ was basically about being flown to freaking Los Angeles and y’know, I didn’t have any friends so they had put me into a hotel room,” Scantlin told American Songwriter. “I didn’t know anybody at all. And I was just missing my family and son, I missed my grandma and stuff.”
Alone in the city of angels, Scantlin spent most of his days in the studio with a hotshot producer and session players, who were filling in on the record while the new lineup was being finalized. Scantlin’s free time was a loop of Groundhog Day type days, marked by morning runs and fiddling with his acoustic guitar.
“I’d actually get up in the morning and just go jogging down Hollywood Boulevard and then go back to the hotel room,” Scantlin recalled.
“Blurry” opens up with the memorable lingering hooks chaptered by Scantlin’s attempt to mirror his life during that time. His flat and dreary vocals exude the same misery he was enduring, pinned with melancholy and sincerity while he sang, Everything’s so blurry/ And everyone’s so fake/And everybody’s empty/And everything is so messed up/Preoccupied without you/I cannot live at all/My whole world surrounds you/I stumble, then I crawl.
What follows is the notable chorus that gave the song the radio push it held for years, Can you take it all away?/Can you take it all away?/Well, you shoved it in my face/This pain you gave to me/Can you take it all away?/Can you take it all away?/Well, you shoved it in my face.
“Blurry” alongside the remaining tracklist for Come Clean was recorded across both NRG studios and Third Stone Recording in Los Angeles with famed producer John Kurzweg. The same sessions would produce other singles “Control,” “Drift and Die” and “She Hates Me.” Come Clean would go Platinum three times over and “Blurry” would hold No. 1 spots on several charts across both the US and UK. It was also one of the most played songs on Canadian radio in 2002. Songwriters Wes Scantlin, Doug Ardito, and Jimmy Allen, would go on to win Pop Song of the Year for ASCAP.
When asked about the success of “Blurry” and Come Clean, Scantlin nearly downplayed it like many other rockstars do with their hits and explained, “I love all the records, and there’s a bunch more than just that one [Come Clean] for sure.”
Scantlin, with a revolving cast of band members, would go on to make several more records under the Puddle of Mudd name, including their most recent, Welcome to Galvania.
Watch the video for “Blurry” here and check out Puddle of Mudd’s lengthy discography on Spotify here.