. . .
There was a bit of a speedbump in terms of my fully appreciating Dear 23, and it happened about a month after I bought the album, which I liked, but still wasn’t sure I loved.
It happened when Doc and I went down to Hollywood in January 1991 to see The Posies open for The Replacements on what we kinda knew without knowing was going to be the final Replacements tour — at this point, Chris Mars has already left — and they seemed like a strange fit to me. At the time, of course, I didn’t realize that they were worshipers at the altar of Chilton just like Westerberg, and in fact the only thing I knew about them was that they all had the same hair.
One of my stupider rules is that only The Beatles were alllowed to get away with every member having the same hair, so when I saw that The Posies all had long hair at around the same length, it seemed . . . a bit false; the sartorial equivalent of some of the production touches that producer John Leckie added to the album, the biggest of which was on Ken Stringfellow’s massively dynamic “Any Other Way.”
With the drum rolls that sounded like skyrockets and soupy walls of acoustic and electric guitars, I probably shouldn’t have loved “Any Other Way,” but every time that Stringfellow and Jon Auer held the notes on “wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy” like they were Allen Clarke & Graham Nash from the Hollies fronting the Rolling Stones, I fucking swooned.
Even better were the lyrics on the bridge, as beautifully crafted summation of a writer’s mind as has ever been put to music.
She left me alone
Claiming we’d run out of things to fight about
I was crushed of course
But at least I’ve something I can write about
It’s so brilliantly self-knowing and cynical that it just kills me, and over the roiling churn of the music, helps to turn “Any Other Way” into such a totally and utterly thrilling piece of songcraft that I ignored my silly rules about production and hair and just let it continually roll over me like a monster truck. And so I forgot my stupid hair rule.
“Any Other Way”
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