Replacements – Talent Show

We apologize, here they are… The Replacements.” (see story at bottom)

I’m going to stick with the album Don’t Tell A Soul for one more song. The album has a bunch of good songs and this is around the time I stopped following them. I’ve picked the band back up with earnest but a box set was released with this album mixed how it was meant to be.

At the time it was mixed with a pop sheen that felt outdated by the end of the decade. The original mixes are great and this one is one of my favorites off the album…and the band.

They were invited to play the International Rock Awards show and they felt out of place in the star studded audience…then came the introduction…”We apologize, here they are… The Replacements.” You then hear Paul ask… “What the hell are we doing here?” before they start into the song.

Before the show the producers told Paul that they would have to bleep out the line “We’re feelin’ good from the pills we took.” and Westerberg suspiciously happily agreed. He wasn’t going to leave it at that though…they did silence out the line and he rolled his eyes. For the song’s closing “It’s too late to turn back” coda, Westerberg began to sing “It’s too late to take pills” instead—several times. The censors missed it completely and let it go out live on the air… ABC was not amused… the Replacements were ushered out of the building at the end and did not get to participate in on jam.

It seemed most in the audience were too busy looking for another star than actually listening to the music…except Matt Dillion at the end.

Here is the live clip of the event

Talent Show

In my waxed up hair and my painted shoes
Got an offer that you might refuse
Tonight, tonight, we’re gonna take a stab
Come on along, we’ll grab a cab

We ain’t much to look at so
Close your eyes, here we go
We’re playin’ at the talent show
Playin’ at the talent show
Come on along, here we go
Playin’ at the talent show
Check us out, here we go
Playin’ at the talent show

Well we got our guitars and we got thumb picks
And we go on after some lip-synch chicks
We’re feelin’ good from the pills we took
Oh, baby, don’t gimme that look

We ain’t much to look at so
Close your eyes, here we go
We’re playin’ at the talent show
Playin’ at the talent show
Come on along, here we go
Playin’ at the talent show
Hop a ride, here we go
Playin’ at the talent show

Well it’s the biggest thing in my life I guess
Look at us all, we’re nervous wrecks
Hey, we go on next

Talent show
Talent show
Playin’ at the talent show
Playin’ at the talent show

Wish us luck if you can’t go
Playin’ at the talent show
An empty seat in the front row
We might even win this time, guys, you never know

It’s too late to turn back, here we go

Replacements – The Ledge

This song was one of the most pivotal songs in their career. MTV’s refusal to play it hurt the chances of the album Please To Meet Me… which The Replacements released in 1987. The album was critically praised as were most of their other albums. With no MTV or radio support, the single didn’t go anywhere.

This song had radio potential and their record company Sire was gearing up a campaign but the song is about suicide and MTV would not touch it. A month before the album was released, the Bergenfield Suicide Pact (4 New Jersey teens took part in a suicide pact) happened. It understandably got a lot of press. Paul Westerberg was not happy with the decision. “MTV feels the lyrics are detrimental to the youth of America,” said Westerberg  “But for them to play Mötley Crüe and not play our video … if it had a bunch of sexist bullshit, they would’ve played it. But if it’s something deeper, if it’s emotions, it’s taboo.”        

The song hinted at Paul Westerberg’s own teenage overdose attempt and the suicide of his high school friend John Zika. Sitting home in the fall of 1986, he wrote The Ledge in forty-five minutes, from the perspective of a jumper looking down at a gathering crowd below.

It was recorded in Memphis with Jim Dickinson producing. The band worked as a trio as Bob Stinson was let go by this time. After the album was finished they would get Bob “Slim” Dunlap on lead guitar.

Paul Westerberg:  It’s written not necessarily out of personal experience because I’m still here. It’s an observation. And if anyone wants to read anything into it other than that, then that’s their problem. And the lyrics, they just came. I didn’t have to sit, I didn’t have to think. It was just wham wham wham, I turned on the little tape recorder, I had it on an ironing board. And it was partially out of the way I had felt at certain times in my life. I figure if you’re gonna kill yourself, you kill yourself, but I had tried to commit suicide once I think when I was younger and I can still feel how I felt then. I mean not like now that I’m totally a-ok and the happiest guy in the world, I’m doing fine, but I can feel for people that feel totally lost and have no one to turn to. So it was written sort of half of my own experience and half of maybe me trying to feel how it is to be up there on the ledge. And it’s not written in any way to condone that kind of stuff. Obviously it’s bullshit, it’s wrong, but to someone who does it…

The Ledge

All eyes look up to me
High above the filthy streets
Heed no bullhorn when it calls
Watch me fly and die, watch me fall

I’m the boy they can’t ignore,
For the first time in my life, I’m sure
All the love sent up high to pledge
Won’t reach the ledge

Wind blows cold from the west
I smell coffee, I smell doughnuts for the press (on their breath?)
A girl that I knew once years ago
Is tryin’ to be reached on the phone

I’m the boy she can’t ignore,
For the first time in my life, I’m sure
All the love sent up high to pledge…

(Repeat)

Priest kneels silent, all is still
Policeman reaches from the sill
Watch him, watch him try his best
There’ll be no medal pinned to his chest

I’m the boy they couldn’t ignore,
For the first time in my life, I’m sure

(Repeat)

I’m the boy for the last time in my life

All the love that they pledge
For the last time will not reach the ledge…

Replacements – Swingin’ Party

Bring your own lampshade
Somewhere there’s a party

This song has just a slight early sixties vibe and shows their expanding repertoire.

Paul Westerberg has said Swingin Party drew on Sinatra’s version of Rodgers and Hart’s standard “Where or When” and The Springfield’s “Flying on the Ground Is Wrong.” It had a trace of Frank and Nancy Sinatra’s “Somethin’ Stupid” and Brian Hyland’s “The Joker Went Wild.” He said if you steal from everything nobody can put a finger on you.

The song’s oscillating rhythms and guitars provided a perfect backdrop for the lyrics.

This song was on their 4th studio album Tim. Yes, they named the album Tim which is pretty funny. It would be the last album founding member and lead guitarist Bob Stinson worked on.

Paul Westerberg: “We named it Tim for no reason at all”.This was the first time we named an album after it was done.We sat around a bar,we were gonna call it Whistler’s Mammy,Van Gogh’s Ear,or England Schmingland.”I think I said Tim and we sat and laughed for a few minutes and then we said,”Why not?”

Paul Westerberg: “One of the reasons we used to drink so much is that it was scary going up onstage. That’s one of the things ‘Swingin Party’ is all about” “The funny thing is, people think you must have all this confidence to get up onstage.”

New Zealand singer Lorde covered Swingin Party”= as the B-side to her second single, “Tennis Court.” The song peaked at #10 in the New Zealand singles chart in 2013.

Swingin’ Party

Bring your own lampshade
Somewhere there’s a party
Here it’s never ending
Can’t remember when it started
Pass around the lampshade
There’ll be plenty enough room in jail

If being alone’s a crime I’m serving forever
Being strong’s your kind
I need help here with this feather
If being afraid is a crime
We hang side by side
At the swingin’ party down the line

On the prairie pavement
Losing proposition
Quitting school and going to work
And never going fishing
Water all around
Never learn how to swim now

If being alone’s a crime I’m serving forever
Being strong’s your kind
Then I need help here with this feather
If being afraid is a crime
We hang side by side
At the swingin’ party down the line
At the swingin’ party down the line

Bring your own lampshade
Somewhere there’s a party
Here it’s never ending
Can’t remember when it started
Pass around the lampshade
There’ll be plenty of room in jail

If being alone’s a crime I’m serving forever
Being strong is what you want
Then I need help here with this feather
If being afraid is a crime
We hang side by side
At the swingin’ party down the line
At the swingin’ party down the line
Catchin’ time
At the swingin’ party down the line

Replacements – Unsatisfied

This is the Replacements 3rd album “Let It Be.” They named it that to joke with their manager who was an obsessed Beatles fan. The song to me sounds like an early Rod Stewart song in style.

While most of the popular music in the world at the time were playing New Wave or Heavy Metal…the Replacements were themselves. No special stage clothes just whatever they were wearing at the time. The word “alternative” was used for the Replacements in the 1980s. Only college stations would play them regularly. They were not good with compromises…and that part took a toll on their popularity…and one of the reasons they are not as well known today.

A band that had one of the best songwriters of the 80s could not get out of their own way and to the masses.

“Unsatisfied” may have been inspired by Westerberg’s developing interest in palmistry. Every palm reader he saw told him that the lines of his hand meant he was doomed to be unhappy forever. The song was a testament to the band’s ad-lib approach. Westerberg barely had any lyrics, save for the “I’m so unsatisfied” hook, and improvised as he sang.

Bob Stinson hadn’t even heard the song before cutting it. “We ran through it one time. Then Bob came in and played along for about half of it. Steve rolled the tape, and that was it,” said Westerberg. “That one was really nice because there was no time to think. He played real well on that—reserved, but with emotion.”

Later on when the Replacements opened up for Keith Richards this song was dedicated to Keith who wrote Satisfaction.

Unsatisfied

Look me in the eye
Then, tell me that I’m satisfied
Was you satisfied?
Look me in the eye
Then, tell me that I’m satisfied
Hey, are you satisfied?

And it goes so slowly on
Everything I’ve ever wanted
Tell me what’s wrong

Look me in the eye
And tell me that I’m satisfied
Were you satisfied?
Look me in the eye
Then, tell me I’m satisfied
And now are you satisfied?

Everything goes
Well, anything goes all of the time
Everything you dream of
Is right in front of you
And everything is a lie (or) And liberty is a lie

Look me in the eye
And tell me that I’m satisfed
Look me in the eye
Unsatisfied
I’m so, I’m so unsatisfied
I’m so dissatisfied
I’m so, I’m so unsatisfied
I’m so unsatisfied
Well, I’m-a
I’m so, I’m so unsatisfied
I’m so dissatis, dissattis…
I’m so