Friday, January 01, 2010

Birthday Gal

Not to continuously go on about Paul W., but I just noticed that he turned 50 yesterday. Fifty! Wow. There's a very nice understated article in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune here.

I was thinking today about what music has meant the most to me in my whole life, and I would have to narrow it down to two, perhaps three bands. I don't listen to any of them that much anymore, but I doubt that any other music will ever have that kind of an effect on my life again. There's something about absorbing music (or movies or literature or whatever) in your twenties that cannot be repeated. And so, with the Smiths, the Replacements, and possibly, with Nirvana, I experienced something deeply traumatic. Not, life-changing but certainly life-reflecting. I was obsessed with each of these bands, enough to track down EVERY SINGLE SONG they had ever released or indeed, recorded. (Ever heard the extremely rare and brilliant live version of "Some Girls are Bigger Than Others" that was released on the b-side of the 12" of "I Started Something I Couldn't Finish" in 1987? Thought So. Yes, I have it somewhere). But that's just the technical part. I was also so obsessed with these bands that I could hardly go a day by without listening to them or thinking about what they were singing about.

Now it is more than twenty years later. I discovered the Smiths and Replacements in '86. I found Nirvana in '91. That's over two decades ago. I'm much much older, not even like a cool older uncle, but just a hasbeen old guy who hasn't taken good care of himself in the past coupla decades, and just complains about his back and mumbles under his breath about how "the kids these days, they just don't get it, do they?"

Now, I'm not sure if Paul is like that these days, but he sure doesn't seem to give a shit about anything, and when he does emerge from his dark dank basement, he sounds like a curmudgeon. He's married, lives in a suburb of a big midwestern city, barely goes out or listens to anything in the outside world, probably watches sports, goes to see his son play baseball, maybe complains to his wife about having to take so many Goddamn anti-depressants every day. He could give two shits about Radiohead, probably still listens to albums by Sonny and Cher, and rarely smiles. He remembers very little of the Replacements, and why should he remember any of it?

Happy Birthday Paul.

You were always kinda young to me, but like an older brother who was about 25 or something. But still young. Without blemishes. Now you're 50. Ain't so young anymore. Just like me.

Here's a song you wrote a long time ago, never bothered to release, until your record company forced you to about 20 years later. It is called "Birthday Gal." It is as sad as all the girls who wanted to sleep you and the boys who wanted to be you.

"Wax is dripping from the frosting on the cake
Come on, girl, buckle up, and don't hesitate
Take a deep breath and blow 'em all away
Birthday gal, do you wish that
There weren't quite as many candles that you had to blow away?"

The Replacements -- Birthday Gal [demo]

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