Certain Songs #1476: Paul Westerberg – “Who You Gonna Marry?”

Album: 49:00 of Your Time Life
Year: 2008

After the 2002-2004 onslaught of music from Paul Westerberg, things got relatively quiet for awhile. At least in terms of releasing new music. But he still kinda stayed in the public eye. In 2005, there was Besterberg, a kinda sorta best-of that spanned his solo career to date (which had 8 Certain Songs out of 20), and in 2006, that was followed by an absolutely dynamite Replacements best-of called Don’t You Know Who I Think I Was (which will have 16 Certain Songs out of 20 when I get there next year) that actually featured two new Replacements songs, both which sounded like Paul solo songs that Tommy happened to play on.

That was followed by the soundtrack Open Season, which featured a handful of good-not-great songs that were fine. But still no new music in the vein that he’d tapped just a few years previously. And when news came out in 2006 that he’d fucked up his left hand with a screwdriver while trying to get wax out of a candle and had to relearn guitar.

In 2008, Rhino announced that they were going to release the entire ‘Mats catalog with a whole bunch of bonus tracks in two waves — the Twin/Tone albums in April and the Reprise albums in October — so that’s what Paul’s fanbase was focusing on when Paul dropped the .mp3-only 49:00 of Your Time Life in July of that year seemingly out of nowhere.

A single file that sold for the bargain price of $0.49, 49:00 was the the single most chaotic record Westerberg had yet released — a pretty good feat for a guy pushing 50 in a career defined by chaos — and while I’ll get into all of that tomorrow, it was also the beginning of a new phase in his career where he essentially eschewed the traditional album release cycle.

That said, at least musically, 49:00 was right in line with the other basement recordings, starting off with the absolutely dynamite “Who You Gonna Marry?” (we think), which starts off with a coulple of strumming acoustic guitars and Paul almost instantly asking the titular question:

Terri, Terri, who you gonna marry?
Terri, Terri, who you gonna marry?
Terri, Terri, who you gonna marry?

As the electric guitars kick in, Paul is singing to an ex who he’s discovered has just gotten engaged. By the tone of his voice, you can kinda tell he realized that he fucked up.

I get the message, your getting hitched
Someone else, can it be switched?
I know now, I ain’t got the power
To come on in the eleventh hour
Every night I’m coming unglued
Can’t help myself for thinking of you

Terri, who you gonna marry?
Who you gonna marry?
Tell me true
Terri, who loves you more than I do?
Guess I blew a chance or two

“Who You Gonna Marry?” definitely plays as a companion piece to All Shook Down’s “Nobody,” right down to Paul causing trouble at the actual wedding, only this time rather than the passive-aggressive wedding book signing, he actually ends up speaking now instead of forever holding his peace.

Whether or not shouting out “I’m the only one” at her wedding worked seems to be outside of the scope of the songs, but it almost doesn’t matter as Paul continues to chant “Terri, Terri, who you gonna marry?” over a series of ever-louder guitars and even a harmonica.

Even though it wasn’t even officially listed as the song title — like I said, more on the structure of 49:00 tomorrow — “Who You Gonna Marry?” was a fantastic way to kick off the album or file or whatever in the hell it was, and definitely a sign that Paul could still write these types of songs.

“Who You Gonna Marry?”

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