Pleased to Meet Me celebrated its 25th birthday in June. The songs have always felt like the musical equivalent of putting on a favorite tee but they have come to mean different things to me over the years. As I listened to it this past week and read some old articles, I discovered a few new things about this ol’ album:
- Alex Chilton played guitar on “Can’t Hardly Wait”. How could I love a Replacements song even more when it’s already recorded at Ardent and has the Memphis horns on it? That’s how.
- Some in the world at large were not terribly kind to this album. It’s the age-old tale, step outside of what your fans expect and expect some backlash. With the inclusion of songs like “Skyway” and “Nightclub Jitters” fans felt they had abandoned their edge for a softer approach. The use of horns on the album was also a departure from their traditional instrumentation which appears to have thrown some listeners. Personally, I love when artists let other styles creep into their formula and try something new. Isn’t that the whole point of being an artist? I am sure that if you went back and surveyed the naysayers today, they might feel a bit differently.
- The album cover has all kings of hidden meaning. This was their second release on a major label and as some of the songs illustrate, they were struggling to deal with types of all that a major label deal brings. The torn short represents the band and the slick suited arm, the biz. The color scheme and layout was homage to Elvis’s G.I. Blues. No real info on why they did this. I guess it could be because of the Memphis connection, or maybe they felt like enlisted men under the major label or maybe they just liked the album. Who knows?
This has to be the greatest promotional video for a band ever made. Not only do they make fun of some of their fans, some members ignore the fact that they are even being interviewed and man, they look like they are a working band in the middle of a tour. All of these things make me adore them even more.
For the final thought on this album, I wanted to spotlight some of the amazing lyrics that appear on this album. Paul Westerberg doesn’t get nearly enough credit for his lyrics. Some of the lines in this album just break me in half, some make me smile from ear to ear but all make me wish I could write like that . So, I will close with a few of my favorites…
Children by the million sing for Alex Chilton when he comes ’round
They sing “I’m in love. What’s that song?
I’m in love with that song.”
I never travel far, without a little Big Star
“Can’t Hardly Wait”
I’ll write you a letter tomorrow
Tonight I can’t hold a pen
Someone’s got a stamp that I can borrow
I promise not to blow the address again
Absolution is out of the question
It makes no sense to apologize
The words I thought I brought I left behind,
So never mind
All over but the shouting, just a waste of time
Nightclub jitters, I take a drink before I hit the town
Night life critters scurry to that sultry, smoky sound
Hurry now the sun is goin’ down
To the nightclub jitters, only thing that scares me is the dark
If you were a pill
I’d take a handful at my will
And I’d knock you back with something sweet and strong
You see I want it in writing, I owe you nothing
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