Archive | February, 2019

Certain Songs #1467: Paul Westerberg – “AAA”

Album: Mono
Year: 2002

The last song from Mono is definitely on the shortlist of Prettiest Songs Ever Recorded, Paul Westerberg Divsion, and not coincidentally, is probably my favorite of all of his solo songs. So far.

Like many of the songs on Mono, there aren’t a lot of words or much musical variation on “AAA,” but it really doesn’t matter, because “AAA” is definitely one of those songs that says more with less.

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Certain Songs #1466: Paul Westerberg – “Eyes Like Sparks”

Album: Mono
Year: 2002

While it was cool that Paul Westerberg had stockpiled a whole album of rock ‘n’ roll songs and a whole album of ballads, I guess that a case could be made that he should have just done a single album of all of the “best” tracks from the previous three years, but not much of a case if you ask me.

For one thing, that’s exactly the kind of thing that would have happened if he was still with a major label, and for another, it was kinda cool that Paul was following the blueprint of Rod Stewart in the early 1970s, where he alternated boozy rock ‘n’ roll Saturday night albums with gorgeous hungover Sunday morning solo albums.

And finally, had he pared Stereo/Mono down to a single record — Sterno? — it’s entirely possible that one of my favorite songs from Mono would have never made the cut, the near-throwaway “Eyes Like Sparks.”

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Certain Songs #1465: Paul Westerberg – “High Time”

Album: Mono
Year: 2002

After the turn of the century is where things started getting refreshingly weird.

After a three-year hiatus during which he left Capitol Records — they’d released Suicaine Gratifaction after he left Reprise following Eventually — Paul signed with the indie label Vagrant and released a pair of concept records in early 2002. But not what you would normally think of as “concept” records. It wasn’t Tales of Topographic Tundra or Northern Rock Opera anything like that.

More like “conceptual” albums.

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Certain Songs #1464: Paul Westerberg – “Lookin’ Out Forever”

Album: Suicaine Gratifaction
Year: 1999

One of the ironies of Suicaine Gratification being my least favorite Paul Westerberg album was that it contained not one, but two songs I well and truly lived. We already discussed yesterday how “It’s a Wonderful Lie” was his best ballad in well over a decade, but I also loved “Lookin’ Out Forever,” which didn’t have a great riff or fuzzy guitars or even a particularly fast tempo.

That said, I think I responded to it because it felt like a classic Paul Westerberg song, albeit one that takes its time to reveal itself as such, but once it does, sticks in your head forever.

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Certain Songs #1463: Paul Westerberg – “It’s A Wonderful Lie”

Album: Suicaine Gratifaction
Year: 1999

From the very start, it was the slow vulnerable ones that set Paul Westerberg apart from his peers. You know, those heart-wrenching future Certain Songs that had lyrical phrases that just stuck in your heart: “If only you were lonely, I’d go home with you.” “Die within your reach.” “Love each other so androgynous.” “Am I the only one who feels ashamed?” “You take the skyway.”

But around the time of Don’t Tell A Soul’s, they started to dry up: “Rock and Roll Ghost” might have meant something to Paul, but came across as maudlin as hell to me, and while I liked “Sadly Beautiful” from All Shook Down and later on “Lush and Green” from 1997’s Grandpaboy EP, it seemed like he’d lost the balance that made those earlier songs so world-shaking.

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