Every Friday night on KEXP I do a show called Nite Life at 9pm. In the midnight hour I choose a record from my personal collection and bring you trax and stories from that album.
This week the Midnight Album Feature is Pleased to Meet Me, the 1987 release from The Replacements. The band formed in 1979 when Paul Westerberg joined Chris Mars and brothers Tommy and Bob Stinson. After Westerberg joined the band as a singer they named themselves The Impediments and played their first show at a halfway house. They got thrown out of the halfway house for disorderly behavior and were blacklisted by the organizer, so they changed their name to The Replacements.
This album really made a huge difference in my life. Even though it was released in 1987, it had to be around 1994 when I was living part-time in Alaska and would travel back to California â€“ to Oakland in the cold months that I listened to it the most. This one year, the trip down from Alaska had really stripped my finances. Luckily, I owned one good interview suit and landed a high-paying temp gig at an office in an industrial part of Hayward, which was about an hour BART ride from home. Hayward looks like it sounds with dry golden grass everywhere, bare lots, and concrete in between the warehouses and trucks. It was a really hard job for me. They put me in this huge factory room with 20 desks in it and fluorescent lights. There weren’t any cubicle dividers, just a sweatshop of desks.
All the women that were in the office, I don’t know if they were afraid of losing their jobs but they seemed very suspicious of me. They would squint at me over their cookies and Diet Coke lunches. I would wear a lot of black because after that one suit that was all I had. I had been travelling and the only clothes that survived and were work-worthy were very dark. These women in their crayola colored polyester pants suits and big hair would look at me like I was the Dark Lord. I took to the part wellâ€¦
I would sit there in a far corner at lunch with my PB&J and my headphones and I would always listen to the same album, Pleased to Meet Me, and always read the same book, Thus Spake Zarathustra.
And I would listen to these lyrics from “I Don’t Know” by The Replacements. (Play video to get full effect of song!)
“One foot in the door, the other foot in the gutter. The sweet smell that you adore, I think I’d rather smother.”
And Iâ€™d have my face in the book. Nietzsche has all of these nutty/smart philosophies about why you should not be one of the crowd, that a crowd person doesn’t think. And while listening to the tunes, Iâ€™d read this:
Very cynical. Great album, great book. That book and album were my force field. The force field kept me from taking the job just because it was great money. Reminding me to be myself. Be unique. And if you’re going to do something so much, and spend so much time on it, (if you have the luxury of not having kids to support, or a house to pay off) work should be something passionate.
I wonâ€™t be doing my show for the next 3 weeks cause Iâ€™m going to Greeceâ€¦ See you in October.