Album: Dead Man’s Pop
. . .
The rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting drunk
The third and fourth times I saw The Replacement were a couple of days apart in May, 1989. The fourth time was the first time I ever hit the road to see them: a drive up to a club in Santa Clara called One Step Beyond with Doc, Mike and Nikki, and the ‘Mats were really really great, of course, as a glance at the setlist would show. But otherwise uneventful.
And maybe that was for the best, as the show a couple of nights before in Fresno was pretty fucking wild. It was at the Satellite Student Union on the Fresno State Campus — which might seem like an unlikely place for a great rock show, but they had their share over the years — which was just basically one giant dancefloor, and the place was packed to the gills, much to the chagrin of the security folks who didn’t react well to a crowd of rowdy teens and post-teens.
And in fact, at some point in the proceedings, I was grooving to the ‘Mats and looked over to where Nikki should have been and she wasn’t there. Which was when I realized that she was crowdsurfing. All the way to the stage. At which point the security goons tossed her out one of the fire exits near the stage. Luckily, I still had my KFSR guest list mojo — the ‘Mats show was literally the last thing I ever did as part of the radio station, as I quit a couple of weeks later, for . . . reasons? I guess — and went outside and brought her right back in, both of us cracking up the whole time.
And the song that the Replacements were playing during all of that? “Asking Me Lies.”
No. Not really. While they did play “Asking Me Lies” that night, I have no idea which song they were actually playing during all of this. But since it works as a segue for this post, why not? Anyways, according to Bob Mehr’s Trouble Boys, “Asking Me Lies” was the band attempt to do a piece of bubblegum funk, like “I Want You Back.”
Summoned through a keyhole
In a lunchbox for three
Take me to your followers
And the swingset police
You can’t see the weather
You’ve got to pull the blinds
Tellin’ you questions
Askin’ me lies
That they didn’t quite reach the heights of those early Jackson 5 singles isn’t really a slight on “Asking Me Lies,” which was a weird mixture of surreal word salad and sharp-as-fuck observations, and featuring some of the unfunkiest whiteboy funk ever put on record. In fact, it’s so bad, it comes back around to being good again. Also, in the middle of all of the surrealism, it had one of Westerberg’s sharpest verses, which literally could have been written in the middle of this current annus horribilis:
Well the rich are gettin’ richer
And the poor are gettin’ drunk
In a black and white picture
There’s a lot of grey bunk
That said, “Asking Me Lies” had something else that many of the songs on “Dead Man’s Pop” didn’t: a loose sense of fun. That feeling like they were making it up as they were going along — the nonsense chant, persistent percussion, intermittent piano — which got more intense as the song kept moving forward and probably peaked out here.
At a Mexican Bar Mitzvah
For seven hundred years
The selfish pray
You’re tryna drive live live live whoo!!!!!
At the end, an amused Paul and a toothy Tommy trade off “telling ya questions” as the guitars wind around and Chris Mars keeps chugging away, and while it’s probably one of those songs that drove some people nuts, I always loved it, and the Matt Wallace mix give it both more bite and more clarity.
Asking Me Lies
Did you miss a Certain Song? Follow me on Twitter: @barefootjim
The Certain Songs Database
A filterable, searchable & sortable somewhat up to date database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.
Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)
Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page