Wow. 8 weeks in. My friend Dave was impressed when I did it 2 weeks in a row, so he must be ecstatic now ( his mood on this night will have nothing to do with the amazing OT win this aft, this is all about ME).
For those of you who have written me, thanks a lot for listening/reading – I’m sorry I haven’t replied to each one of you separately, but typing is not my forte (it takes longer to write this stuff than it does to do the tunes, most times – shoulda paid attention in grade 10 Typing class, I guess).
Funny how this thing is working – I’ve been getting a ton of requests! I’m not sure how I’m gonna deal with them yet – it was my intention to make this a personal journey of some kind and to share it with whomever would take the time to bother, so I’m overwhelmed to say the least, and flattered that those of you who put forth ideas for covers care enough to do so.
The song this week was actually requested a while ago, and to be honest, I would have done it anyway. Not that the other requests aren’t good songs or interesting choices, it’s just that this song has been a staple of my live show for a really long time. In fact, I probably open about 95% of my sets with it. I can’t really explain how/why, but it calms me down and helps me settle in to a show – I still get anxious beforehand, even after hundreds of gigs – and if I’m really antsy, I’ll play Lee Shedden’s “Bordersong” right after and I’m good to go. Works every time, and not because they are both in the same key, although it helps that I don’t have to switch harmonicas…
Why this song? I’m not sure. Westerberg is one of my heroes, there is no doubt – just ask anyone who knows me – and he has written a ton of songs that have slain me, melodically, musically, and most of all, lyrically. Although this one is from one of his least-praised records, it is the one that over the years has become my all-time favorite of his. I will never get sick of the line “you can dress to the eights, you can dress to maim/make you feel great, this fortune and fame/wearing too much makeup, not near enough clothes”. In fact, I have to stop myself from chuckling every 3rd or 4th time I sing that line. It is so sad, and so hilarious, all at once.
Before I was able to call Mike Plume my friend, my band was opening for his one night, and at their soundcheck they played “It’s A Wonderful Lie”. I was put out and amazed – I thought I was the only guy that would dare do the tune, and now here’s this dude stealing my thunder. At the same time, I was tickled that someone else thought enough of the song to bother covering it. That night we bonded over the ‘Mats and Westerberg’s songs, and spent a good deal of time discussing the lyric quoted above. I wonder sometimes if he hadn’t played it at the soundcheck if we’d ever have gotten on as well as we have, and maybe I never would have gotten to make records and play a few gigs with him or even just hang around with the guy, which have been some of the best times I’ve had, ever. I can say without exaggeration that I would be at least one friend (and possibly my girl) short today if it wasn’t for the songs of Paul Westerberg.
All you need is 3 chords and the truth, someone once said. Well, they have to be the right 3 chords, and Westerberg has the ability to tell you truths that you didn’t even know existed, even if he says they are wonderful lies. Funny… and sadly beautiful.
Paul Westerberg’s “It’s A Wonderful Lie”
(Click on the Play button beside the song title to launch the music player
or right-click on the link to download it to your computer.)