Replacements – I Don’t Know

Paul Westerberg once said he wanted the Replacement albums to have a timeless sound and not tied to a decade…for the most part he got his wish. I love the irrelevance of the band…how they didn’t take themselves seriously.

The Replacements were a handful to record but they made some fantastic albums…for me some of the best of the 80s. This song is as subtle as a brick through a window. It’s the band’s open letter about the state of the Replacements and the 1980’s music industry. They were releasing what are now considered classic albums but were getting nowhere. The song is credited to Paul Westerberg, Tommy Stinson, and Chris Mars.

Do we give it up? (I don’t know)
Should we give it hell? (I don’t know)
Are you makin’ a fortune? (I don’t know)
Or don’t you wanna tell? (I don’t know)
Should we give it up? (I don’t know)
Or hang around some more? (I don’t know)
Should we buy some beer? (I don’t know)
Can I use your hairspray?

One foot in the door, the other foot in the gutter
The sweet smell that you adore, yeah I think I’d rather smother

This was off of the album Please To Meet Me  recorded in Memphis with Jim Dickinson producing. Dickinson also produced Big Star’s Third/Sister Lovers album a decade before. Bob Stinson was out of the band at this time and it was recorded as a trio of Westerberg, Tommy Stinson, and Mars.

John Hampton was behind the board so Westerberg had fun with him with the line Who’s behind the board? (I don’t know) They tell me he’s a dope (I don’t know).

The lead single off of this album was The Ledge but MTV in their infinate wisdom decided not to play the song because it discussed suicide. I Don’t Know was sometimes used as the closing song on their reunion tour. I like the saxaphone and the energy of it…and it rocks.

Jim Dickinson: “Every day they were like a sine wave, they wouldn’t be drunk enough early on in the day to get anything. Then they’d be good and drunk, and it would be great. And then they’d be too drunk, and they’d get useless.”

“They couldn’t conceivably play the same song four or five times in a row, because they would get bored, so I would pick three or four songs, and we’d cut them like a set.”

I Don’t Know

Do we give it up? (I don’t know)
Should we give it hell? (I don’t know)
Are you makin’ a fortune? (I don’t know)
Or don’t you wanna tell? (I don’t know)
Should we give it up? (I don’t know)
Or hang around some more? (I don’t know)
Should we buy some beer? (I don’t know)
Can I use your hairspray?

One foot in the door, the other foot in the gutter
The sweet smell that you adore, yeah I think I’d rather smother

Should we top it off? (I don’t know)
It’s startin’ to smoke (I don’t know)
Who’s behind the board? (I don’t know)
They tell me he’s a dope (I don’t know)
What the fuck you sayin’? (I don’t know)
Our lawyer’s on the phone (I don’t know)
How much are you in for? (I don’t know)
What did we do now?

One foot in the door, the other one in the gutter
The sweet smell that they adore, I think I’d rather smother

One foot in the door, the other one in the gutter
The sweet smell that they adore, well I think I’d rather smother

(4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11-12)

Are you guys still around? (I don’t know)
Whatcha gonna do with your lives? (Nothin’!)

One foot in the door, the other one in the gutter
The sweet smell that you adore, hey I think I’d rather smother

One foot in this door, the other one in the gutter
The sweet smell that they adore, oh I think I’d rather smother

Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

25 thoughts on “Replacements – I Don’t Know”

  1. I always thought it was about marijuana, with the references to dope and sweet smell. I think Let It Be, and maybe All Shook Down, are the least tied to the era they were recorded in. There is a little bit of 1980s studio gloss on Pleased to Meet Me, but it sounds pretty good.

    Liked by 1 person

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