14 Songs Paul Westerberg

Man Without Ties by Paul Westerberg

The Replacements are one of my favourite bands of all time, with their rough and ready bar band sound contrasting with Westerberg’s sensitive insightful lyrics, and creating some terrific college rock. After making one of my favourite trios of albums in the mid 1980s – Let It Be, Tim, and Pleased To Meet Me – the slick, mainstream Don’t Tell A Soul smoothed off the last of their raw edges. When Westerberg launched his solo career in 1993, with 14 Songs, it was more of the same; good songs buried under slick production that drained their life and authenticity.

Westerberg didn’t give the same polish to ‘Man Without Ties’ – the b-side to the 14 Songs single ‘World Class Fad’ – it sounds off-the-cuff, and all the stronger for it, just Westerberg, his acoustic guitar, and a sing-along chorus. ‘Man Without Ties’ is also the name of Westerberg’s Unofficial Fan Website, so it’s clearly a loved song in his catalogue.

In retrospect it seems obvious that Paul Westerberg sounds better raw and spontaneous, and in the 21st century Westerberg has almost exclusively released albums that he’s self-recorded in his home studio, and he’s been all the better for it.

Men without ties don’t dress for dinner
Do the Friday night frozen pizza thing
Don’t want no wife or no beginner
You’re the Friday night frozen pizza king
Everything you buy is soon expired
Some neighbors they’re a-thinking that you’re gay
Others they assume that you’ve been fired
See you smoking cigarettes all day
Men without ties don’t dress for dinner
Do the Friday night frozen pizza thing
Don’t want no wife or no beginner, with a knife
You’re the Friday night frozen pizza king
On Saturday they won’t catch you in your yard
You’re dreaming of tonight’s fine cuisine
With a microwave and a library card
It’ll taste like plastic, but it’ll be fast and hot
Men without ties… it’s about time
Men without ties don’t dress for dinner
Men without ties don’t need a thing
Don’t want no wife, show to cut by
Man without ties is king

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    • I like that line “When he didn’t know what he wanted but kept on breaking our hearts” – that’s a good summation. There are songs I really like – First Glimmer, World Class Fad – but it’s just a little too polished for Westerberg to sound comfortable. Stereo is my favourite of his solo discs.

  1. I don’t know this one at all… truth be told, I don’t know too much Westerberg. Certainly not as much as I should… and judging from this, I should jump right in.

  2. I misread 14 songs single at first (not knowing the album, I misinterpreted that the single contained 14 tracks – fantastic value for an EP!)
    I like the sounds of his 21st century recording technique, the do-it-yourself method

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