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

Replacements – Achin’ To Be

A wonderful song from the band’s sixth album Don’t Tell A Soul. It was the first album with new guitarist Bob “Slim” Dunlap after Bob Stinson quit. They recorded their previous album Please To Meet Me as a trio with Paul Westerberg, Tommy Stinson, and Chris Mars.

Westerberg has claimed the song’s protagonist was a composite of several people, though one inspiration was his younger sister Mary. She was a Minneapolis budding rock radio deejay, Mary was experiencing the same uncertainties Paul had gone through prior to the Replacements. (In the video showed Mary as both Paul’s shadow and reflection.)

The sound of this album turned some of the older fans off. In order to get more radio play the record company brought in Chris Lord-Alge to mix the album. The album had a lot of those eighties effects used to enhance the music. The result was more of a polished  Replacements album.

They would release one more album after this one called All Shook Down in 1990. Chris Mars left the band in 1989 and was replaced in 1990 by Steve Foley. The band toured with Elvis Costello in 1991 and would play their farewell gig in Chicago on July 4, 1991.

In 2012 they would regroup with a different drummer and tour until 2015. They sold out some arenas that held around 14,000 people in 10 minutes in some areas. After they broke up their legend grew and they were heard more than they were when they were together originally. For my money…they were the best pure rock band in the 80s for these ears.

Achin’ To Be

Well she’s kind of like an artist
Sittin’ on the floor
Never finishes, she abandons
Never shows a soul

And she’s kind of like a movie
Everyone rushes to see
And no one understands it
Sittin’ in their seats

She opens her mouth to speak and
What comes out’s a mystery
Thought about, not understood
She’s achin’ to be

Well she dances alone in nightclubs
Every other day of the week
People look right through her
Baby doll, check your cheek

And she’s kind of like a poet
Who finds it hard to speak
Poems come so slowly
Like the colors down a sheet

She opens her mouth to speak and
What comes out’s a mystery
Thought about, not understood
She’s achin’ to be

I’ve been achin’ for a while now, friend
I’ve been achin’ hard for years

Well she’s kind of like an artist
Who uses paints no more
You never show me what you’re doing
Never show a soul

Well, I saw one of your pictures
There was nothin’ that I could see
If no one’s on your canvas
Well, I’m achin’ to be

She closes her mouth to speak and
Closes her eyes to see
Thought about an’ only loved
She’s achin’ to be
Just like me

Replacements – I Don’t Know

Paul Westerberg once said he wanted the Replacement albums to have a timeless sound and not tied to a decade…for the most part he got his wish. I love the irrelevance of the band…how they didn’t take themselves seriously.

The Replacements were a handful to record but they made some fantastic albums…for me some of the best of the 80s. This song is as subtle as a brick through a window. It’s the band’s open letter about the state of the Replacements and the 1980’s music industry. They were releasing what are now considered classic albums but were getting nowhere. The song is credited to Paul Westerberg, Tommy Stinson, and Chris Mars.

Do we give it up? (I don’t know)
Should we give it hell? (I don’t know)
Are you makin’ a fortune? (I don’t know)
Or don’t you wanna tell? (I don’t know)
Should we give it up? (I don’t know)
Or hang around some more? (I don’t know)
Should we buy some beer? (I don’t know)
Can I use your hairspray?

One foot in the door, the other foot in the gutter
The sweet smell that you adore, yeah I think I’d rather smother

This was off of the album Please To Meet Me  recorded in Memphis with Jim Dickinson producing. Dickinson also produced Big Star’s Third/Sister Lovers album a decade before. Bob Stinson was out of the band at this time and it was recorded as a trio of Westerberg, Tommy Stinson, and Mars.

John Hampton was behind the board so Westerberg had fun with him with the line Who’s behind the board? (I don’t know) They tell me he’s a dope (I don’t know).

The lead single off of this album was The Ledge but MTV in their infinate wisdom decided not to play the song because it discussed suicide. I Don’t Know was sometimes used as the closing song on their reunion tour. I like the saxaphone and the energy of it…and it rocks.

Jim Dickinson: “Every day they were like a sine wave, they wouldn’t be drunk enough early on in the day to get anything. Then they’d be good and drunk, and it would be great. And then they’d be too drunk, and they’d get useless.”

“They couldn’t conceivably play the same song four or five times in a row, because they would get bored, so I would pick three or four songs, and we’d cut them like a set.”

I Don’t Know

Do we give it up? (I don’t know)
Should we give it hell? (I don’t know)
Are you makin’ a fortune? (I don’t know)
Or don’t you wanna tell? (I don’t know)
Should we give it up? (I don’t know)
Or hang around some more? (I don’t know)
Should we buy some beer? (I don’t know)
Can I use your hairspray?

One foot in the door, the other foot in the gutter
The sweet smell that you adore, yeah I think I’d rather smother

Should we top it off? (I don’t know)
It’s startin’ to smoke (I don’t know)
Who’s behind the board? (I don’t know)
They tell me he’s a dope (I don’t know)
What the fuck you sayin’? (I don’t know)
Our lawyer’s on the phone (I don’t know)
How much are you in for? (I don’t know)
What did we do now?

One foot in the door, the other one in the gutter
The sweet smell that they adore, I think I’d rather smother

One foot in the door, the other one in the gutter
The sweet smell that they adore, well I think I’d rather smother

(4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11-12)

Are you guys still around? (I don’t know)
Whatcha gonna do with your lives? (Nothin’!)

One foot in the door, the other one in the gutter
The sweet smell that you adore, hey I think I’d rather smother

One foot in this door, the other one in the gutter
The sweet smell that they adore, oh I think I’d rather smother

Replacements – Kiss Me On The Bus

This song is off of the album Tim released in 1985.  This was their first album on Sire Records with Warner Brothers. They had left the indie Twin/Tone records after the album Let It Be. Another song title that I had to listen to and I’m glad I did.

Bob Stinson’s imprint was heavy on Kiss Me on the Bus, which he turned into a showcase for his breakneck riffing. When Bob was right…he could give you the quickest most perfect riffs…but when he was off…he was off. It could be from song to song some nights.

This would be Bob’s last album with the band. He would leave a little while after this. Slim Dunlap would take his place in 1988.

Being on a big label meant they got a slot on SNL. They sounded ragged but great on the show. They played two songs… Bastards of Young and Kiss Me On The Bus. Paul Westerberg muttered the F word during Bastards of Young and Lorne Michaels berated the band before they played this song as their last song.

It would be the last time because they were barred from future SNL performances.

After their performance, they went to a party and then back to the hotel. Bob Stinson who had some emotional along with chemical problems caused a lot of damage in his room at the hotel.

Later when Michaels got the $1,100 bill for the hotel damages, he hit the roof again. He was threatening to ban not just the Replacements but any Warner Bros. act from appearing on SNL. In one night, the Replacements had managed to destroy a decade of cozy relations between the show and the label.

Paul Westerberg: “Rock-and-roll doesn’t always make for great television, but we were trying to do whatever possible to make sure that was a memorable evening.”

I could not find the SNL video, but the below clip is a European television appearance. Bob’s guitar playing is the highlight of this video.

Kiss Me On The Bus

On the bus, that’s where we’re riding
On the bus, okay, don’t say “hi” then
Your tongue, your transfer
Your hand, your answer

On the bus, everyone’s looking forward
On the bus, I am looking forward
And it really ain’t okay
I might die before Monday
They’re all watching us

Kiss me on the bus
Kiss me on the bus
Oooo, if you knew how I felt now
You wouldn’t act so adult now
Hurry hurry, here comes my stop

On the bus, watch our reflection
On the bus, I can’t stand no rejection
C’mon let’s make a scene
Oh baby don’t be so mean
They’re all watching us

Kiss me on the bus
Kiss me on the bus
Oooo, if you knew how I felt now
You wouldn’t act so adult now
Hurry hurry, here comes my stop

Oooo, if you knew how I felt now
You wouldn’t act so adult now
They’re all watching us
Kiss me on the bus
Kiss me on the bus
Kiss me on the bus
Kiss me on the bus

Replacements – Sixteen Blue

Sixteen Blue was inspired by bassist Tommy Stinson. Tommy played his first gig with the Replacements in June of 1980 when he was just 13. The other members were 5-6 years older than Tommy.

Westerberg had witnessed how Stinson had been forced to grow up way faster than most kids, yet still faced the typical teenage issues and doubts. Westerberg also said it was about his lonely teenage years.

The song is on their Let It Be album released in 1984. Let It Be was the first of a three album stretch (Let It Be, Tim, Please To Meet Me) that they are probably best remembered for today.

Peter Jesperson (manager): “Hearing it the first time they did it, at a sound check in Boston, I thought, Jesus, he’s written a song about Tommy.”“Tommy was kind of the mascot of the band, and Paul had written about him in songs before. But this wasn’t just some goofy thing. This was serious and tender.”

Paul Westerberg on why they named the album Let It Be

“We were riding around . . . kicking around silly [album] names and we thought, ‘The next song that comes on the radio, we’ll name it after that.”

“We peed our pants [laughing], and Peter (manager and Beatles fan) is at the wheel, silent as hell, thinking, ‘They’re not going to do this, ““We did it pretty much to piss him off and pretty much to show the world, in a Ramones kind of way, how dumb-smart we were. . . . Just to figure how many feathers we can ruffle.”

Sixteen Blue

Drive yourself right up the wall
No one hears and no one calls
It’s a boring state
It’s a useless wait, I know

Brag about things you don’t understand
A girl and a woman, a boy and a man
Everything is sexually vague
Now you’re wondering to yourself
If you might be gay

Your age is the hardest age
Everything drags and drags
One day, baby, maybe help you through
Sixteen blue
Sixteen blue

Drive your ma to the bank
Tell your pa you got a date
You’re lying, now you’re lying on your back

Try to figure out, they wonder what next you’ll pull
You don’t understand anything sexual
I don’t understand
Tell my friends I’m doing fine

Your age is the hardest age
Everything drags and drags
You’re looking funny
You ain’t laughing, are you?
Sixteen blue
Sixteen blue

Replacements – Answering Machine

This is raw, raw, and more raw. It didn’t fit in with the 80s mainstream and is one of the reasons I like it so much.

There are not as many answering machines anymore…although we still have one that is connected to our VOIP phone. We live in the middle of the country where cell phones are iffy sometimes.

Paul is the only Replacement on this song. He did the guitars, percussion, and vocals.

Westerberg liked a girl in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and would court her long-distance. Sometimes he’d call to talk her and get her answering machine instead. He said at the time that he wasn’t a modern person and that technology irritated him. If technology did in the 80s I can’t imagine what he feels today.

He poured that frustration into “Answering Machine.” He considers it one of the best songs he did with the Replacements. The song was on the album Let It Be released in 1984 and is considered one of their best albums. It was ranked number 241 on Rolling Stones list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

At the song’s conclusion, amid a wall of noise and effects, he would shout out Michigan’s 313 area code; he also threw out a couple others, including New York City’s 212, to cover his bases with a few other girls, just in case.

Paul Westerberg: “There was real passion, and there was a real person on the other end, and that made it all come to life.”

Answering Machine

Try and breathe some life into a letter
Losing hope, we’ll never be together
My courage is at its peak
You know what I mean
How do you say you’re okay
To an answering machine?
How do you say goodnight
To an answering machine?

Big time’s got its losers
Small town’s got its vices
A handful of friends
One needs a match, one needs some ice
Call-waiting phone in another time zone
How do you say I miss you
To an answering machine?
How do say good night
To an answering machine?

(If you’d like to make a call, please hang up and try again
If you need help, dial the number…)

I get enough of that

Try to free a slave of ignorance
Try and teach a whore about romance

How do you say I miss you
To an answering machine?
How do you say good night to
An answering machine?
How do you say I’m lonely to
An answering machine?
The message is very plain
Oh, I hate your answering machine
I hate your answering machine
I hate your answering machine…

(If you’d like to make a call, please hang up and try again…
If you need help…)

Replacements – Left Of The Dial ….80’s Underground Mondays

This is a perfect song to remember alternative radio with today. This  is Paul Westerberg’s tribute to college radio in the 1980s. Of all the bands I’ve covered on Mondays…this band is my favorite of them all. They were more straight rock and roll with some quirks thrown in for good measure.

Left of the Dial celebrates the spirit of the eighties American indie rock scene and was a tribute to the tiny watt college stations populating the far end of the FM radio band—many let the Replacements crash after shows at campuses. Westerberg had said that is where they got most of their airtime…“We ended up going to college in an odd kind of way.”

The song is also about Westerberg’s infatuation with Lynn Blakey, singer-guitarist for North Carolina’s Let’s Active. They’d met when the bands shared a bill at San Francisco’s I-Beam in the fall of 1983. “He followed me around and bummed cigarettes off me,” recalled Blakey. The following night, after a show in Berkeley, the two spent hours walking together. They would exchange calls and letters as Blakey moved to Athens, Georgia, where she joined Michael Stipe’s sister Lynda in the band Oh-OK.

Artist: Lynn Blakey | SecondHandSongs

“I figured the only way I’d hear her voice was with her band on the radio . . . on a college station,” said Westerberg. “And one night we were passing through a town somewhere, and she was doing an interview on the radio. I heard her voice for the first time in six months for about a minute. Then the station faded out.” The moment provided the song’s lyric “If I don’t see ya, in a long, long while / I’ll try to find you / Left of the dial.”

The song was on the album Tim and it was released in 1985.

Left of the Dial

Read about your band in some local page
Didn’t mention your name, didn’t mention your name
The sweet Georgia breezes, safe, cool and warm
I headed up north, you headed north

On and on and on and on
What side are you on?
On and on and on and on
What side are you on?

Weary voice that’s laughin’, on the radio once
We sounded drunk, never made it on
Passin’ through and it’s late, the station started to fade
Picked another one up in the very next state

On and on and on and on
What side are you on?
On and on and on and on and

Pretty girl keep growin’ up, playin’ make-up, wearin’ guitar
Growin’ old in a bar, ya grow old in a bar
Headed out to San Francisco, definitely not L.A.
Didn’t mention your name, didn’t mention your name

And if I don’t see ya, in a long, long while
I’ll try to find you
Left of the dial
Left of the dial
Left of the dial
Left of the dial
Left of the dial
Left of the dial
Left of the dial
Left of the dial

Replacements – Message to the Boys

Thanks to Aphoristical for pointing me to this song and album. At the end of 2005, years after the band had broken up…Warner Music Group ended up with rights to the Replacements’ Twin/Tone albums, and their entire catalog was finally placed under one roof. They offered Westerberg and Stinson a deal for the band to reunite and record. They wanted to package a “Best Of” album with a few new songs.

They had been feuding with each other off and on since the break up. Westerberg and Stinson ended their feud and agreed to do it. They did not invite Slim Dunlap to participate for some reason. They did however invite drummer Chris Mars to join them. They patched things up with Mars but he was an artist and doing it for a living and didn’t want to play. He did come to the sessions anyway. Drummer  Josh Freese had flown out to play drums. To show you how they operated…here is Westerberg’s thought on that.

“And Chris, he was still a Replacement…The first thing out of his mouth to Josh was something like, ‘Man, you almost played that really good.’ That’s what we missed. You don’t have to play the drums. You can just bring the attitude.”

The band recorded two songs Message to the Boys and Pool and Dive. They appeared on the album Don’t You Know Who I Think I Was? They didn’t end up touring at that time but offers came in year after year and the money offers got bigger.

Westerberg: “The fact that we came up short is the thing that’s kept us interesting. That is part of the attraction. We’ve retained this mystique.”

Paul and Tommy would later reunite again in 2012. Former guitar player Slim Dunlap had a major stroke and they contributed to a benefit album of Slim’s songs along with many artists. In 2013 they started to play live again and eventually toured until 2015 when it ended abruptly.

Paul Westerberg about the reunion in 2006 and missing former member Bob Stinson: “The answer to the million-dollar question is yes, when Bob died, something died in me and Tommy, and we’ve never been the same since,” said Westerberg. “And it’s always been awkward, and it’s always been unsaid and unsayable and strange and weird between us.”

This concludes taking a song off of each album from the Replacements… thanks for following here every Monday. I’ll still post some Replacements here and there.

Message To The Boys

Well I met her in a bar
Like I always say
She was digging Tommy’s cute
Way down in FLA

Wearing that vest with nothing underneath
Looking her best in the Florida heat
Sent a message to the boys
She was wearing that vest with nothing underneath
She be looking her best in the Florida heat, yeah
Sent a message to the boys

Well, she couldn’t cut loose
With her mommy around
So she packed her pretty bags
Went to the run-away town

Used to call me late at night
Said she missed her little maid
I never asked twice how the bills got paid
She sent a message to the boys
Used to call me every night
Said she missed her little maid
Never ever asked twice how the bills got paid
Sent the message to the boys

She sent a message to the boys
She’s gonna be there, if you need her
I can’t forget her and her voice
And her voice

Was a lady to the end
Now to this I can attest
She knew how to move
Yeah, when she rock’n’rolled this

She sent a message to the boys
She’s gonna be there, if you need her
I can’t forget her and her voice

She sent a message to the boys
She sent a message to the boys
God, I miss her and her voice
She sent a message to the boys
She sent a message to the boys
Oh god, I miss her and her voice

Replacements – Merry Go Around

This one is off of their last studio album All Shook Down. I was going to conclude with this one having one off of their studio albums but there is one more coming next week.

This is not my favorite off the album but it did have a commercial sound for that time and it’s something that I thought would have charted in the Billboard 100. Merry Go Round did peak at #1 on the alternative charts. The album peaked at #69 in the Billboard Album Chart in 1990.

“Merry Go Round” was written about the  lives of Westerberg and his sister Mary (“They ignored me with a smile, you as a child”).

The band went to Los Angeles to make a video for Merry Go Round. With Westerberg’s okay, Warner Bros. hired Bob Dylan’s twenty-three-year-old son Jesse Dylan, who was just starting to direct.

It was shot in black and white and later edited to include some colorful inserts. From the opening moments, with a stone-faced Westerberg staring blankly into the camera, the video lacked the fun that had marked some of  their other clips. Paul and Tommy managed a few smiles, and Slim played along gamely. The drummer Chris Mars, miming to Charley Drayton’s drum track, was understandably less than enthused.

Merry Go Round

Hush was the first word you were taught
And they watched you wear
The clothes they claimed that they bought
They brought you down
To watch the merry-go around

In fall, you knew how much it cost
A trouble doll
Around your neck when you lost
You wouldn’t make a sound
But I could hear your little heart pound
And I watched your feet slip off the ground

Merry go round in dreams
Writes ’em down, it seems
When she sleeps, she’s free
Merry go round in dreams

You wake to another day and find
The wind’s blowing out of key with your sky
Only you can see
And the rain dancing in the night
Everybody stands around in delight

Merry go round in dreams
Writes ’em down, it seems
When she sleeps, she’s free
Merry go round in dreams

And everybody thinks she’s sick
She’s got two worlds she can pick
And she’s sad

Hush is the only word you know
And I stopped listening long ago
They ignored me with a smile
You as a child
But the trouble doll hears your heart pound
And your feet they say goodbye to the ground

Merry go round in dreams
Writes ’em down, it seems
When she sleeps, she’s free
Merry go round in dreams

Merry go round in dreams
Merry go round in me
Merry go round
Round and round in me
Merry go round
Round and round in me

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