2004 Paul Westerberg Interview / Finally Here Once Silences the Van

Paul Westerberg Interview 2004

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.

Miley Cyrus Sings Paul Westerberg

It’s a strange world.  Miley Cyrus is singing a Replacements song.  She is singing it with Laura Jane Grace and Joan Jett.  Joan Jett has sang with Paul Westerberg several times, so it’s not as surprising that she is involved.

They are performing this to draw attention to Cyrus’s new charity The Happy Hippie Foundation that will help homeless youth, LBGT youth, and other vulnerable populations.

Androgynous is a song I have been listening to since I was a kid.  It’s a favorite of mine.  I’m glad to hear it in any form.  Despite this version being somewhat generic musically, there is love and joy here that I can’t deny.

I’m also glad about anything that helps people that are on the margins.  Anything that brings more love into the world is fine by me.

Original Replacements Version:

The Best Paul Westerberg Songs You Have Never Heard

The Best Paul Westerberg Songs You Have Never Heard

If you are a Westerberg or Replacements fan the above article is worth the read.  If you don’t know of either, Westerberg is one of the best rock n roll songwriters America has produced.  I’ve always been a really big fan of his.  The above article covers the solo stuff he put out since 2008.  It begins with the music collage 49:00 and goes on from there.

All of the material they mention is worth checking out.  49:00 is especially interesting.  One song bleeds into the next.  Certain songs even play at the same time.  In lesser hands this could be a disaster, but it is extremely listenable and inspiring.  It really is a sound collage.  Not only are almost all the pieces great in their own right, but the WAY they interact with each other provides a whole other level of meaning.  At one point there is a song about Westerberg’s dad dying.  Another song keeps trying to break into that one, resembling someone’s mental state under duress, like they are trying to block something out, but can’t completely.  The whole record seems to tell the story of his life, though it is impressionistic and interpretive as well. (Though you might have to be a fan to put that interpretation together. The song Something in My Life is Missing features a bit about each of The Replacements, but not by name.)  Westerberg’s love of Faces inspired rock n roll, knack for AM pop radio hooks, beautiful melodic sensibilities, and post-punk roots all come and go at different times.  I’ve long thought it to be a work of genius, but the fact that he put several snippets of covers, that he performs, got it taken down shortly after it was released.  I don’t believe you can still buy it, but you can listen up above on YouTube.

Knockin’ On Mine

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Alright, you read common knowledge, stockpile your brain
You get burned in the sun, you get wet in the rain
What they teach you to fix, needs to be broke
I say, he who laughs first didn’t get the joke
Go on, untap your mind, quit knocking on mine

An English teacher from Vancouver
She asked me to write something for her students
I wrote knowledge adds, wisdom let slide
She says now really? I wanna tap your mind

Quit knockin’ on mine
Walkin’ on
Knockin’ on mine

Knowledge is power, got your books go read ’em
Wisdom is ignorance, stupidity, I call freedom
Knockin’ on mine, get out

Comic books, the Bible, road maps, pornography
Anything you wanna read
Go out and sit in a field sometime

Quit knockin’ on mine
(Knockin’ on mine)
Quit knockin’ on mine
(Knockin’ on mine)

Power got your books go read ’em
Wisdom is ignorance, stupidity, I call freedom
Quit knockin’ on mine
(Knockin’ on mine)

You read common knowledge every day
You’re as common as that newspaper you throw away
You get burned in the sun, you get wet in the rain
Won’t you ever change, won’t you ever learn?

Quit knockin’ on mine
(Knockin’ on mine)

Knockin’ On Mine by Paul Westerberg.  I remember hearing this song when I was around 13 or 14 and being surprised that there was a rock n roll song about reading, one that actually rocked no less.  I was used to the songs that were on the radio that were about having fun and partying all of the time.  As I grow older I realize that it’s ideas that are most subversive of all.  Anyone just singing about whiskey all of the time is selling you fake rebellion.