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 – Color Me Impressed

***I have posted my 10 favorite covers of Beatle songs at Keith’s site nostaligicitalian ***

This song was off of the 1983 album Hootenanny. This was their third release and second album. The album was all over the place style wise but it works.

For the album cover they found a  1963 Crestview Records folk sample album and changed the type.

The original                                      The Replacements Hootenanny

Hootenanny (1962, Vinyl) - DiscogsHootenanny (The Replacements album) - Wikipedia

What first caught my ear was the unorthodox solo that Bob Stinson played. You can hear the feedback from the guitar before he starts it.

The band never sold many records but they influenced many musicians and as it turns out movie makers.

Daniel Waters wrote the black comedy “Heathers” movie in 1989. He was such a fan of their music that Waters peppered his script with Replacements references…from the school being Westerburg High (the spelling of Paul’s surname was changed at the urging of a film exec who felt that the name Westerberg seemed “a little too Jewish” for a Midwestern high school) to male lead J.D. (Christian Slater) and one of the Heathers saying, “Color me impressed.”

He also wanted to use a Replacements song in the credits but there was no money to buy the rights.

Paul Westerberg about Hootenanny: “You could hear me more or less trying to find my voice, or trying to find out where I fit in…a way of trying to fuse what I had been listening to growing up into what was happening at the time.”

Color Me Impressed

Everybody at your party
They all look depressed
Everybody dressin’ funny
Color me impressed

Stayin’ out late tonight
Won’t be gettin’ any sleep
Givin’ out their word
Because that’s all that they won’t keep

Put the party on the mirror
Oh shit, pass the bill to Chris
Intoxicated lover ending our french kiss

Can you stand me on my feet?
Can you stand me on my feet?

(Everybody)

Everybody at your party
They don’t look depressed
And everybody’s dressin’ funny
Color me impressed

Color me impressed
Color me impressed
Color me impressed
Color me impressed
I call it out

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

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

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)

Big Star – #1 Record…Desert Island Albums

This is my third round choice from Hanspostcard’s album draft…100 albums in 100 days.
2020 ALBUM DRAFT-ROUND 3 PICK 6- BADFINGER20 SELECTS- BIG STAR- #1 RECORD

“Big Star is like a letter that was mailed in 1971 but didn’t arrive until 1985.”
Musician Robyn Hitchcock 

I never travel far, without a little Big Star
The Replacements

“We’ve sort of flirted with greatness, but we’ve yet to make a record as good as Revolver or Highway 61 Revisited or Exile on Main Street or Big Star’s Third.”
Peter Buck

The band didn’t chart a record when they were active. I still hold their music up along with The Who, Beatles. and Kinks…they never had the sales but they did have a giant influence. They released this album as their debut in August of 1972.  I had to stop myself from writing an open love letter (I may have failed) about this band. Was it the mystique of them? Was it the coolness factor of liking a band that not many people knew? No and no. It’s about the music. Mystique and coolness wear off and all you are left with is the music…We are fortunate to have 3 albums by Big Star to enjoy.

In the early eighties, I heard stories from an older brother of a friend about Big Star out of Memphis…but their records were hard to come by.  I loved what little I heard and it got lost in the shuffle but it planted a seed for later. 

By the mid-80s I heard more of their songs. In 1986 The Bangles released “September Gurls” and I knew it sounded familiar…and the DJ said it was a Big Star song…then came the song, Alex Chilton, by The Replacements and  I’m ashamed to say it wasn’t until the early nineties, I finally had Big Star’s music along with the Raspberries and Badfinger. My power-pop fandom kicked into high gear and I have never left that genre.

Big Star was the best band never heard. Such a great band but a long frustrating story. They made three albums that were among the best of the decade that were not heard until much later. They signed with Ardent which was a subsidiary of Stax Records.

A power-pop band on the soul Stax label doesn’t sound like a good idea now and it wasn’t then. Stax was failing at that time and could not distribute the records to the stores. Kids loved the music on the radio only to go to a record store with no Big Star records. Rolling Stone gave them rave reviews…but that doesn’t help if the album is not out there to purchase. They were through by 1974 after recording their 3rd album.

When their albums were finally discovered by eighties bands, they influenced many artists such as REM, The Replacements, Cars, Cheap Trick, Sloan, Matthew Sweet, KISS, Wilco, Gin Blossoms, and many more. They influenced alternative rock of the 80s and 90s and continue to this day.

Listening to this album with each song you think…Oh, that could have been a single. Alex Chilton and Chris Bell wrote most of the songs and wanted to emulate Lennon/McCartney and they did a great job but with an obvious American slant to make it their own. After the commercial failure of this album, Chris Bell quit but the other three continued for one more album and then bass player Andy Hummel quit after the second album, and Chilton and drummer Jody Stephens recorded the third.

I could have gone with ANY three of their albums. I picked this one because of Chris Bell. The songs are a bit more polished on this one than the other two but it fits the songs they present. Chris Bell added a lot to Big Star and after hearing his solo song I Am The Cosmos you see how much. Radio City, their second album, with Chilton in charge many consider their best and their third album, Third/Sister Lovers is not as commercially accessible but I still love it. All three are in Rolling Stone’s top 500 albums of all time.

I’ll go over four songs.

The Ballad Of El Goodo  A song about Vietnam conscientious objector…but it is much more than that. It is one of the most perfect pop/rock songs recorded to my ears. This would make it in my own top 10 songs of all time. The tone of the guitars, harmonies and the perfectly constructed chorus keeps calling me back listen after listen. This is when pop music becomes more.

In The Street is a song that everyone will know. It was used as the theme of That Seventies Show. Cheap Trick covered it for the show. I was not a teenager in the early seventies but with this song, I am there front and center. Steal your car and bring it down, Pick me up, we’ll drive around, Wish we had, A joint so bad.

Thirteen is a song that Chilton finds that spot between the innocence of childhood and the first teenage year where they meet and intertwine with confusion. Won’t you tell your dad, “get off my back” Tell him what we said ’bout “Paint It Black”

When My Baby’s Beside Me has a great guitar riff to open it up. This is power pop at it’s best. A nice rocker that should have been blaring out of AM radios in the 70’s.

I’m not going over every song (but I could easily) because reading this won’t do it…you have to listen if you haven’t already. You will not regret it. Not just these songs but the complete album.

It’s a mixture of songs on the album…rockers, mid-tempo songs, and ballads. Even the weaker song called The India Song is very listenable. My favorites besides the ones I listed are  Watch the Sunrise, Don’t Lie To Me, Feel, and Give Me Another Chance.

I now have rounded out my albums on my island. The variety of The White Album, The rock of Who’s Next, and the ringing power-pop beauty of Big Star…swim or use a boat and come over to my island and we will listen…the Pina Coladas and High Tides (hey it’s an island) are flowing… let’s drink to BIG STAR.

On a side note. If you want to learn more there is a good documentary out about them called: Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me.

Feel
The Ballad Of El Goodo
In The Street
Thirteen
Don’t Lie To Me
The India Song
When My Baby’s Beside Me
My Life Is Right
Give Me Another Chance
Try Again
Watch The Sunrise
ST 100/6

  • Chris Bell – guitar, vocals
  • Alex Chilton – guitar, vocals
  • Andy Hummel – bass guitar, vocals
  • Jody Stephens – drums