Album: Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out The Trash
. . .
If you’re in love then I’m in trouble
“I’m In Trouble” just might be the greatest song Paul Westerberg ever wrote.
It’s easily the best (i.e. “my favorite”) song on Sorry Ma, Forgot To Take Out The Trash, and clearly I wasn’t the only one, as they chose it as the single from teh album.
And they really didn’t release a lot of singles during the Twin/Tone era: most of the sources I could find just had “I Will Dare” as the only other pre-Sire single, though Wikipedia lists “Color Me Impressed” as a single, which, yeah, it coulda/woulda/shoulda been the single from Hootenanny!, but I never saw any evidence of it existing. Unlike “I’m In Trouble,” the actual physical 7″ single of which I’ll discuss more tomorrow.
All of this is a roundabout way to say that I’m not the only one to notice how great “I’m In Trouble” was. Or how much better it sounded than the rest of the record, as Paul, Tommy and Chris all come roaring out of the gate in perfect lockstep, Bob over in one speaker cranking out Chuck Berry-adjacent leads, all before Paul starts singing about a desperate situation.
I gotta hide, I gotta run
Try suicide, well that ain’t no fun
And then, emphasizing every single word, Paul explains why he’s so desperate.
Oh you won’t ever say that it’s so
You’re in love and I’m in trouble
The killer on this chorus is how Paul sings “trubble,” like he’s also enjoying his situation, or at least appreciating it. Either way it’s incredibly playful, and undercuts the words somewhat.
But so what? It’s the Replacements. That contradiction is the point!
Spend my cash, waste my time
Take out the trash, not this time
Well you won’t never say that it’s so
You’re in love and I’m in trouble
After the second chorus, Paul starts mixing up the lyrics to the point where ends up with “you’re in trouble” and then screams as Bob machine guns notes everywhere, and after ducking the machine gun bullets, does it again, only this time, ends up just randomly screaming “trouble” over and over again — every single time a bit more crazily — because at this point, he has no idea what the fuck is going on with the situation and no time to figure it out.
Then there’s the last chorus, where Paul sneaks in some high-school math, by slightly changing up the final line of the chorus:
If you’re in love
Then I’m in trouble
Paul Westerberg invented Math Rock! I just fucking love this, because tossing in a conditional statement in the chorus of a rock song was exactly the kind of thing that got folks like me to completely overthink that song in the first place.
In any event, “I’m In Trouble” was both the best exemplar of the “power trash” aesthetic that the ‘mats were going for, and a template for some of their best songs in the next few years: short, snappy, catchy and fun as all hell.
“I’m in Trouble”
“I’m in Trouble” live in Minneapolis, 1981
“I’m in Trouble” live in Minneapolis, 1983
“I’m In Trouble” live in Austin, 2014
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