Paul Westerberg lives in a world somewhere below the mainstream. Passed down by college kids via their walkmen, cd players and now their ipods, he’s something of a legend. Replacements fame and a successful solo career have garnered him a large cult following and allowed him to reap the benefits of an almost thirty year career while remaining that cult figure.His latest release 49:00 (which was actually 43:55 in length) had as many beautiful throwback moments as it did confusing blunders in it’s production. Songs overlapped, sometimes over took one another and at times he’d throw in a few seconds of a cover. The album was greeted with generally positive reviews and was hailed as a comeback of sorts for the Replacements troubadour. However, the album was recently pulled off of sites like amazon.com over copyright issues. This is where it gets interesting… As 49:00 was taken off of the net, 5:05 was released. 5:05 is single song that Westerberg wrote and probably recorded in his basement while laughing to himself, possibly before 49:00. Is the former Replacements singer really this smart? Is this all a big joke?
Here are three things to consider from AD because they’re much more driven individuals:
1. A sped-up vocal sample at the beginning that is an excerpt from an Adolf Hitler speech, followed by commentary of some sort about the speech and its fascist meanings. Is this, perhaps, a commentary by Paul about copyright restrictions? If so, he may have already lost his argument via Godwin’s Law.
2. The lyrics of the chorus, though not officially available anywhere and somewhat garbled, seem to say: “If they wanna sue me / can’t see through me / they’ve got a law suit / I’ve got a swim suit / all the girls and guys / enjoy the 5:05.” Depending on when this song was recorded, it points toward Westerberg having put it in reserve for the, possibly, inevitable cease and desist order over the album. And thus leading to this song being made available. The lyrics do change a bit throughout the song – “enjoy the 5:05″ definitely becomes “join the 5:05″ at a later point, for instance – but the overall feel of the lyrics stays the same.
3. Finally, and most importantly, we get a repeated shout of “fuck you” under the repeated chant of “5:05″ as the song winds to a close. This would seem like nothing more than just a smarmy, caustic end to the song if this obvious petulance wasn’t followed by an insidiously subtle one – the track cuts off right as Westerberg sings and plays a warped version of the opening line of the Beatles’ “Oh! Darling.” This is important for two reason – first, it’s a direct slap at the lawsuit/cease and desist action over his medley of similarly broken, short chunks of other famous songs from 49:00 and second, “Oh! Darling” is the Beatles song that the Replacements famously lifted, practically in its entirety, musically, for their song “Mr. Whirly” on the Hootenanny album. As a dig at the copyright issue, as well as a call back to his days in the Replacements, it could not be better performed.
If this song was, indeed, recorded ahead of time, knowing full and well that 49:00 was likely to get pulled, it’s a childish, bratty and completely hilarious stunt. It’s everything we always thought of when it came to the Replacements and it’s a thrill to see that Paul is still capable of doing just those sort of things. – j.neas
Now, for twice as much as the 49 cent 49:00 go buy the 99 cent 5:05.