Friday, May 14, 2004

if being wrong's a crime, this guy'd be serving forever*

I recently received a shout-out from another sociology weblog, which (a) linked to one of my posts, (b) contemplated whether I could be rightly referred to as the blogger's professor, (c) acknowledged getting the idea of blogging with footnotes from me**, and, most touchingly, (d) noted that I was "one of" the only professors in sociology who would get a reasonably obscure Replacements reference.*** Ah, my faculty heart swells from the attention.

More pertinently, Brady's post inspired me to buy this Replacements' tribute album available that was available on iTunes. 24 songs by 24 artists. Some of the songs appear to represent efforts to basically sound as much like the original version as possible, which I basically think is the Worst Thing You Can Do On A Tribute Album, Especially When It's A Tribute To A Genius And You Are, Well, Not. It does give one a greater appreciation of what a wonderfully evocative singer (as well as songwriter) Westerberg is.

Anyway, there is this one song on the tribute album that has received several extra listens because of this utterly infuriating thing the performer does. It's the cover of "Skyway", by Adam Leland (whoever that is). "Skyway" is a simple-but-poignant song about a man who takes the bus most everyday in winter and has developed this crush on a woman he sees up every day above in the skyway (the over-the-street connections between buildings in Minneapolis). And then it ends with a verse where the man is up in the skyway, and he looks down and sees the woman at long last down on the street passing by the bus stop. O, cruel world.

The relevant lyrics are:
Oh, then one day, I saw you walkin' down that little one-way
Where, the place I'd catch my ride most everyday
There wasn't a damn thing I could do or say
Up in the skyway
However, what Leland sings instead here is "beneath the skyway." What the [expletive deleted] was he thinking? The only reason the song makes any sense is that for most of the song she's in the skyway, he's on the street, and then when he's in the skyway, she's on the street. Why couldn't he do or say anything if she was passing by the bus stop and he was at the bus stop as well? I've tried to come up with some way that this could be a clever artist's re-interpretation of the song, but after thirty or so hours of consecutive listening I've concluded that he just botched it. How can you be bestowed the task of providing a song for a tribute album to Paul Westerberg, and then screw up the lyric in such a way as to have the whole verse no longer make any sense. It's like throwing in random gimels when it's your turn to do the Torah reading. It's like being one of the people assigned to carry the Olympic Torch, and then getting bored and stopping in at a Denny's and putting it out when you see the sign Thanking You For Not Smoking.

I guarantee that if Freaktoast J had been asked to participate in the tribute album, he wouldn't mess up any lyrics unless there was some higher artistic intent. Or he was drunk.****

* Pissy allusion to lyrics from the Replacements' "Swingin Party."

** Unlike some others I could mention, which wouldn't be an issue except when said bloggers also write posts claiming that I have appropriated all sorts of culture from her without attribution, especially when they even go so far as to drag Mirah into it.

***For long time readers with elephantine memories, this is the same graduate student with whom I tag-teamed proposing questions for a magazine interview with Replacements' genius Paul Westerberg. If you look at each of your proposed questions, you can get a better idea of which of us is musically sophisticated and which of us is just another dork who obliviously claps away on the 1&3.

It was mid-October 2002 that Brady and I first realized our common fondness for the Replacements, as I asked--with some self-satisfaction--whether he had noted that the preceding week had been the 20th anniversary of the date mentioned at the end of the Replacements' song "Lovelines." Brady responded with a link to the actual page from the Minneapolis/St. Paul City Pages that Westerberg used to write the lyrics for "Lovelines" (above and here). Brady also, incidentally, reportedly has an image from the 'Mats Pleased To Meet Me cover tattooed somewhere on his body (really, truly).

**** Actually, Freaktoast J does a twee-reggae version of the 'Mats "Color Me Impressed" on his 1999 album Bring On The Dipshits. In the second half of the song, he appears to be singing "Color me depressed" instead. 1999 was a hard year for Freaktoast J, as early in the year he impaled himself stage-diving during a concert at the Spindle nightclub in Lincoln, NE.

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