Paul Westerberg has always been one of my favorite songwriters. One thing that often gets lost in the mainstream press, who are much more content telling Replacements drinking stories, is how great of a melody writer he is. In fact I would put him up as one of America’s greatest melody writers since the beginning of rock n roll. I mean other than someone like Brian Wilson, there aren’t many people that have written as many great melodies as he has. But unlike a lot of people that can write great melodies, his songs also often have a grittiness to them. His songs aren’t antiseptic sounding, nor overly sweet. It is that contrast that makes him stand out. You often get one or the other, but rarely both. His songs feel lived in and true, while at the same time being highly memorable. Even his more polished major label recordings have Kenny Jones (Faces) like drums on them and Westerberg’s rumpled sandpaper vocals.
I remember one time in the Shinyribs van I put the above song on, Finally Here Once, and about 10 seconds into the song the van went completely silent. Afterwards everyone remarked on what a great song it was. It’s an extremely lo-fi recording, so people weren’t getting off on some kind of sonic deal. It’s just great writing.
Anyway, I saw that his website put the above 2004 interview on it, which I had read at the time, but found interesting going back to.