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

Replacements – Kids Don’t Follow

***Today I will be guest hosting a blog post featuring my top 10 favorite songs that the Beatles covered…with comments from Keith Allen (nostaligicitalian). Please come and visit if you can…Keith is the DJ I interviewed. Next week it will be my favorite Beatle songs that other people covered***

This Replacements song was inspired by U2’s  I Will Follow. Paul Westerberg had seen U2 perform on April 1981 at bar named Sam’s, where they actually played the song twice in their set.

He liked the sound of “I Will Follow,” but he balked at what he considered its unrealistic message. The kids he knew weren’t going blindly forth, their faith steadfast, their belief unwavering in the face of adversity.

They were still in their punk phase but on the next album they would start expanding their sound. I’ve been listening to their albums in order and the first three I wasn’t as familiar with but I’ll be posting at least one song off of each album as I go. 

The song was on their second release…an ep called Stink. It was released in 1982 on Twin/Tone Records.

The Replacements - Stink

The intro to the song was not made in the studio, it was a real party where the police was called because of the noise.

The Replacements were playing at a rent-party for visual artist Don Holzschuh, opening for the the band Warheads. It was a massive multi-keg affair attended by a lot of underage kids. The Replacements’ noise levels drew a visit and warning from the local police. Not long after they’d finished their set, the Minneapolis police decided to end the fun entirely.

As a uniformed officer took the microphone to disperse the crowd, Replacements’ soundman Terry Katzman pressed record on his tape player. “This is the Minneapolis Police . . . the party is o-ver,” he announced, to a collection of boos.

Future Soul Asylum singer Dave Pirner was at the party and he was one of the kids harassing the police. He has taken credit for being the one to yell “Hey, f**k you, maaaan!” starting at around 7 seconds below on the song.

Don Holzschuh talks about the party where the intro came from…

Kids Don’t Follow

Go home…..this is the Minneapolis police….the
party’s over…if you all just grab your stuff &
leave there won’t be any hassle..the party’s been
closed….etc.

One, two, three, four

Kids won’t listen
To what you’re sayin’
Kids ain’t wondering
Kids ain’t praying
Mo says he’s worried
He says talk away
He says yeah I’ve been cured

I need some attention
No house of detention
I’d love some attention
Don’t start again

Kids don’t need that
Kids don’t want that
Kids don’t need nothing of the kind
Kids don’t follow

What you’re doin’
In my face out my ear
Kids won’t follow
What you’re sayin
We can’t hear

Can’t stop looting
Can’t stop smoking
Kids ain’t wondering
Can’t stop choking
Kids won’t stand still
Kids won’t shut up
Kids won’t do it
You talk to ’em now

Kids don’t follow
What you’re doin’
In my face and out my ear
Kids won’t follow
What you’re saying
We can’t hear

Kids won’t follow
What you’re saying
In my face out my ear
Kids don’t follow
What you’re sayin’
We can’t hear
What you say
Not tomorrow
Not today

Replacements – Here Comes A Regular

Well a person can work up a mean mean thirst
after a hard day of nothin’ much at all

I can’t tell you how much I like this ballad by The Replacements. This song sounds so authentic that it hurts. I don’t normally try to interrupt songs. They mean different things to different people but this one hit home for me…I knew people like this and I spent my fair share of  time in bars playing to drinking customers.

The song is sad but an honest portrait. It’s a lonely life but a comfort to have people to be lonely with… but it also is a signal  that you could be spiraling slowly down. I have never been drinker but I did haunt some clubs (mostly playing music) in my earlier days nursing a drink into the night. I remember one night being at a club at 2am in the morning…thinking why the hell am I still here? That is when my days of being a regular stopped.

Tim is the fourth studio album by  The Replacements. It was released in October 1985 on Sire Records. It was their first major label release. Paul Westerberg wrote this song and played acoustic.

The Replacements - Tim cover.jpg

You’re like a picture on the fridge that’s never stocked with food
I used to live at home, now I stay at their house

Here Comes A Regular

Well a person can work up a mean mean thirst
after a hard day of nothin’ much at all
Summer’s passed, it’s too late to cut the grass
There ain’t much to rake anyway in the fall

And sometimes I just ain’t in the mood
to take my place in back with the loudmouths
You’re like a picture on the fridge that’s never stocked with food
I used to live at home, now I stay at the house

And everybody wants to be special here
They call your name out loud and clear
Here comes a regular
Call out your name
Here comes a regular
Am I the only one here today?

Well a drinkin’ buddy that’s bound to another town
Once the police made you go away
And even if you’re in the arms of someone’s baby now
I’ll take a great big whiskey to ya anyway

Everybody wants to be someone’s here
Someone’s gonna show up, never fear
’cause here comes a regular
Call out your name
Here comes a regular
Am I the only one who feels ashamed?

Kneeling alongside old Sad Eyes
He says opportunity knocks once then the door slams shut
All I know is I’m sick of everything that my money can buy
The fool who wastes his life, God rest his guts

First the lights, then the collar goes up, and the wind begins to blow
Turn your back on a pay-you-back, last call
First the glass, then the leaves that pass, then comes the snow
Ain’t much to rake anyway in the fall

The Replacements – I Will Dare

How young are you?
How old am I?
Let’s count the rings around my eyes

I Will Dare was released in 1984 as an independent single and then included on their Let It Be album. I loved this song in the 80s and after hearing it in the past weeks…it was like the first time I listened to it. Peter Buck from REM is playing the intro on this song.  Paul Westerberg wrote the song and plays mandolin.

Let It Be was the third full album by the band’s original lineup: lead singer and songwriter Paul Westerberg, guitarist Bob Stinson, bassist Tommy Stinson, and drummer Chris Mars.

This song should have cracked the top 40 but it didn’t…mostly because they were on a small  Minneapolis record label named Twin/Tone.

The song has been included in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.

Paul Westerberg: ”I Will Dare” [From Let It Be] might have been an answer to ”I Will Follow” [by U2]. Part of it has to do with the band. We’ll dare to flop, we’ll dare to do anything. ”I Will Dare” was a good slogan for a Replacements single. Every song title, if it doesn’t apply to the band in some way, we cannot use it. On the other hand, it was a kind of love song. ”Ditch the creep and I’ll meet you later. I don’t care, I will dare.” 

I Will Dare

How young are you?
How old am I?
Let’s count the rings around my eyes

How smart are you?
How dumb am I?
Don’t count any of my advice

Oh, meet me anyplace or anywhere or anytime
Now I don’t care, meet me tonight
If you will dare, I might dare

Call me on Thursday, if you will
Or call me on Wednesday, better still
Ain’t lost yet, so I gotta be a winner
Fingernails and a cigarette’s a lousy dinner
Young, are you? Wo oo

C’mon meet me anyplace or anywhere or anytime
Now, I don’t care, meet me tonight
If you will dare, I will dare
Meet me anyplace or anywhere or anytime
Now, I don’t care, meet me tonight
If you will dare, I will dare

How young are you?
How old am I?
Let’s count the rings around my eyes

How smart are you?
How smart are you?
How dumb am I?
Dumb am I

Meet me anyplace or anywhere or anytime
Now I don’t care, meet me tonight
If you would dare, I would dare
Meet me anyplace or anywhere or anytime
Now I don’t care, meet me tonight
If you will dare, I will dare