|He's looking at you, kid...|
There is something so primaly wonderful about The Replacements, a band where the fun was just as equally wondering if the night you went to see them was the night they'd finally implode, or the night they'd be too drunk to play, or if they'd just be a cover band for shits and giggles. I loved how they moved from straight on punks to power poppers in the mode of Paul's hero Alex Chilton to actual Top 40 troubadours before finally falling apart...and yet the chameleon-esque transformations continued, as Paul went through his 'ZuZu's Petals' phase of writing AOR sludge with now-wife Laurie Lindeen, then became a little bit of a Nu-Folkie before his most recent period of being a sort of rock-n-roll recluse, going about his life in quiet obscurity only to surprise us every once in a while with an EP of new songs at a ridiculously low price or a brief reunion with his Replacement bandmates for a pair of new tracks on Rhino's anthology of the band.
This song comes from one of those EPs, PW and The Ghost Glove Cat Wing Joy Boys, and I have to say that I like this weird period of his life. These later songs have taken on a strange sort of 'happy accident' quality to them, primarily because of the space between these missives from Paul (Something I discussed with Maurice Bursztynski in relation to Fiona Apple). And I'm fascinated by how his career has almost come full circle. This is recognizably the same guy who played on Tim and Pleased To Meet Me (even though I was aware of The Replacements because of my love of the greatest anthem of my college years, 'Bastards of The Young,' Pleased was my favorite 'Mats album because of the one-two punch of 'Alex Chilton' and 'IOU', the later with its seemingly endless break in the middle, as if the entire band was holding its breath underwater)--that guitar riff is unmistakably--but it's a strangely different kind of song.
I'm not sure if this song should be taken at the surface level, as a song about a woman who likes to bring 'dangerous boys' to her bed because she gains some power over them until she meet the one boy who 'breaks like a wave/waif.' Or, and I suspect this might be the true interpretation, it might be an elaborate metaphorical song about his relationship with his wife. After all, if we assume the 'boy who breaks like a wave/waif' (there's an argument for both interpretations on the Westerberg message boards) is Paul himself, then the fact that the boy is not put back together like all the others before him who shared this woman's bed can be looked at as representing Paul's musical transformation into something different from what he was with The Replacements. This song may very well be, in some weird and twisted, Westerbergian way, a love letter to his wife attributing his growth as an artist to her.
Regardless, it's a great lil' track, and I am probably not alone in waiting for the day when Paul comes out of his home to release another bunch of tracks....which might not be so far off, as there are reports on his official website that he and Tommy Stinson are collaborating on a song for a series of limited edition seven inch singles to benefit Slim Dunlap, a project that will reach fruition this fall.
Since there's no video for this song, here's one for the single off his last album, Suicide Gratification, which was directed by one of my faves, and notorious geek culture whipping boy Zack Snyder...