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…

The Replacements – Can’t Hardly Wait

I posted Skyway  a couple of weeks ago and  I had a request to post more by The Replacements which suits me fine.

This song was first recorded for the 1985 album Tim, but didn’t make the cut. It appeared on the 1987 album Pleased to Meet Me.  It was also featured in the movie Can’t Hardly Wait and on the soundtrack in 1998.

The original, found on the Tim demo sessions is about committing suicide. The record company felt that Pleased To Meet Me, with suicide song “The Ledge,” didn’t need any controversy over having two songs about suicide, so the lyrics to this song were altered.

This new video was released this year for the new Pleased to Meet Me (2020 Remaster) version. It was originally shot in 1987 for “The Ledge;” however, that video was pulled from MTV for “objectionable song content,” so the band re-used it for the follow-up, “Alex Chilton.” This version comes with an HD resolution upgrade and remastered audio.

Can’t Hardly Wait

I’ll write you a letter tomorrow
Tonight, I can’t hold a pen
Someone’s got a stamp that I can borrow
I promise not to blow the address again

Lights that flash in the evening
Through a crack in the drapes

Jesus rides beside me
He never buys any smokes
Hurry up, hurry up, ain’t you had enough of this stuff
Ashtray floors, dirty clothes and filthy jokes

See you’re high and lonesome
Try and try and try

Lights that flash in the evening
Through a hole in the drapes
I’ll be home when I’m sleeping
I can’t hardly wait

I can’t wait
Hardly wait
I can’t wait
Hardly wait
I can’t wait
Hardly wait
I can’t wait
Hardly wait
I can’t wait
Hardly wait

The Replacements – Skyway

I’ve been listening to the Replacement recently after I read a post on them by Aphoristical. I listened to them quite a bit in the eighties but lost touch at the end of the decade…

This song is on the band’s 1987 album Pleased To Meet Me. The band was formed in band formed in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1979. Skyways are one of Minneapolis’s signature features. They are second-story pedestrian bridges between buildings that are called skywalks or skybridges.

The album peaked at #131 in the Billboard Album Charts in 1987. It’s a gorgeous song…

Paul Westerberg: It’s our own little private song for Minneapolis. They’re basically the sidewalks above the streets, because it’s too cold in the winter to walk, and the businesses, y’know, feel they won’t get people to come downtown. It’s like you can walk for miles and not ever go outside. You can walk around the whole city through the skyway system. And it’s generally the people who are shoppers and [who] work. And so this song was sort of written from the point of a guy who’s like myself who — I don’t go up in the skyways, y’know. [laughs] What do I have to do up there? I never go shopping or anything. So I sit down there and watch the people walk by. 

Skyway

You take the skyway, high above the busy little one-way
In my stupid hat and gloves, at night I lie awake
Wonderin’ if I’ll sleep
Wonderin’ if we’ll meet out in the street

But you take the skyway
It don’t move at all like a subway
It’s got bums when it’s cold like any other place
It’s warm up inside
Sittin’ down and waitin’ for a ride
Beneath the skyway

Oh, then one day, I saw you walkin’ down that little one-way
Where, the place I’d catch my ride most everyday
There wasn’t a damn thing I could do or say
Up in the skyway

Skyway
Skyway (sky away)