Replacements – Waitress In The Sky

Songs like this are what made The Replacements the Replacements.

Waitress in the Sky” was written for one of Paul Westerberg’s sisters…Julie. She was a career flight attendant. In the song, Westerberg’s character came on like every stewardess’s nightmare passenger. “I was playing the character of the creep who demands to be treated like a king. I’d heard all the stories from my sister about how [passengers] would yell at the flight attendants and how then they’d ‘accidentally’ spill something on them.”

Later on, when they signed to Warner Bros and an executive told them to make a music video. That is something that they absolutely would not do. Westerberg was willing to compromise though.

He did joke with the executive with a quote worth remembering… ‘Tell you what… if you get The Replacements on Hee-Haw then I’ll lip-synch to ‘Waitress in the Sky.’

Warner Bros were not amused. The conversation did lead to a live TV gig though.  Westerberg didn’t think Warner Brothers would be able to swing a deal for a TV spot so he agreed. He would soon regret his decision. Yes, Warner Bros got them not only a TV gig but a live one. They were then scheduled on SNL and that led to being permanently banned from the show after Westerberg uttered a naughty word on national television.

They were stuck on the 18th floor waiting all day for SNL. To soothe the band’s nerves, soundman Monty Lee Wilkes smuggled some alcohol into the studio in a little road case. As they began to dip in, the show’s host, Harry Dean Stanton, said hello. Harry ended up joining in and becoming quite intoxicated. Word began to circulate that the host was getting drunk mere hours before the live show. Panic ensued until a production assistant dragged Stanton out of the band’s dressing room.

Sufficiently lubricated, their rehearsal set went off smoothly. Bob Stinson shocked everyone by donning a striped lady’s unitard. The only hitch occurred during “Bastards of Young” — Bob was late coming in on the solo. Westerberg would make sure he didn’t miss his cue during the live broadcast. Make sure he did… he cued Bob by saying to Bob, just off mic: “Come on, f****r.”

This was a low point for SNL…Michael Lorne had just returned and the show was rumored to be canceled…so he didn’t take this well. They were permanently banned from playing there again…although Westerberg played there later during his solo career.

The song was on the Tim album released in 1985. Tim was the fourth studio album by  The Replacements. It was released in October 1985 on Sire Records (a subsidiary of Warner Brothers). It was their first major-label release.

Looking back on their career…it gets maddening. They bucked at playing nice with industry figures, purposely tanked do-or-die shows, and antagonized producers until they quit. They wanted to make it on their own terms but ended up sabotaging themselves. They could have been up there with R.E.M. but they couldn’t get out of their own way.

Julie was indeed a lifelong flight attendant…or Waitress in the sky…she retired in 2019 from Delta Airlines

Paul Westerberg's sister Julie, 'Waitress in the Sky' inspiration, retires  after four decades as flight attendant

Their performance on SNL…sorry for the quality but this is the only one the SNL police will allow.

Waitress In The Sky

She don’t wear no pants and she don’t wear no tie
Always on the ball, she’s always on strike
Struttin’ up the aisle, big deal, you get to fly
You ain’t nothin’ but a waitress in the sky
You ain’t nothin’ but a waitress in the sky
Paid my fare, don’t want to complain
You get to me, you’re always outta champagne
Treat me like a bum, don’t wear no tie
‘Cause you ain’t nothin’ but a waitress in the sky
You ain’t nothin’ but a waitress in the sky, oh hoh
And the sign says, “Thank you very much for not smoking”
My own sign says, “I’m sorry, I’m smokin'”
Don’t treat me special or don’t kiss my ass
Treat me like the way they treat ’em up in first class

Sanitation expert and a maintenance engineer
Garbage man, a janitor and you my dear
A real union flight attendant, my oh my
You ain’t nothin’ but a waitress in the sky
You ain’t nothin’ but a waitress in the sky
You ain’t nothin’ but a waitress in the sky

Oh oh, ba ba, oh oh, ba ba, oh oh, ba, ba, oh oh


Author: Badfinger (Max)

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

17 thoughts on “Replacements – Waitress In The Sky”

  1. Waitress in the Sky is great. I wonder if any passengers saw themselves in the lyrics. I can name a few former colleagues who were awful passengers. I’ve never seen that SNL performance. I’m still baffled that I heard OF them, but never heard or saw them back then.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love it also…that quote also that he gave the exec was classic! It’s a very clever song…one I would have never thought of writing a song about.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pretty good snarky lyrics. Their SNL performance didn’t seem that bad… they’re rockers so no one expected them to be note perfect like maybe Steely Dan or ELO. I’m sure many many other guest stars and musicians have been at least equally inebriated on the show… That said, as you’ve pointed out before they seemed to deliberately make enemies and be ‘beaten’…. do you think they really did not want to be popular and famous, or were they just stubborn and oblivious?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Stubborn to the core…wanted to make it on their own terms. They finally did make a video…you have seen it…a speaker playing the music lol… Well the F**K word is what did them in on SNL…you could barely hear it. Micheals was worried they would be canceled anyway at that time. The golden age of SNL was past by 85.

      Later on in 1989 they finally gave in and made real videos.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. most would agree with you but oddball me found the show at its best in the first half of 90s, with Myers and Carvey, Victoria Jackson, Miller etc.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh it was really funny….no arguments here…I was talking more about taking risks and really pushing it. Getting musical guests that were on the fringes and not superstars.


  3. So stubborn and wilful. The Replacements motto could have been ‘My way or the Skyway?’ I also wonder if Julie is almost famous, as in, like, Sharona or Cohen’s ‘Suzanne?’

    Liked by 2 people

    1. ‘My way or the Skyway? That fits them to a perfectly… They are a great…what could have been question…. I would say Suzanne…

      Liked by 1 person

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