Friday, August 23, 2013

Song #25 On My MP3 Player - Answering Machine by The Replacements

Song #25 on my MP3 player is 'Answering Machine', which is the final track on The Replacements' 1984 release Let it Be. The Replacements were an American rock band from Minneapolis, Minnesota, and I consider them to be one of the greatest rock bands of all time. Their songs are magnificent and their history is filled with numerous tales which might be nothing more than rock and roll mythology.

Ryan Dellwood was a friend from high school that was totally annoyed by the fact that I was in love with classic rock. He tried to get me to like The Smiths and The Cure, but I refused to give those bands a chance. It was the summer of 1992 and I had just graduated from high school. I was getting ready for college. Dellwood showed up at my house one evening unannounced with a box full of cassette tapes. He was staging a rock and roll intervention.

I was pissed that Dellwood thought I listened to musical garbage. Who was he to stage an intervention? What was wrong with liking Led Zeppelin, The Who, Aerosmith, and Lynyrd Skynyrd? My evening was going to be ruined by Dellwood playing some god awful garbage by some British band with a moody lead singer accompanied by a bunch of buffoons playing synthesizers.

Dellwood didn't even try with The Smiths or The Cure. He was loaded for bear. Instead of trying to win me over with British bands, he tried to win me over with rock and roll from the US of A. One of the tapes he brought over was Let it Be by The Replacements.

At the time I was reading Musician magazine and they were big fans of The Replacements. They praised the band, especially lead singer and songwriter Paul Westerberg. It was one of those instances where I knew the name of the band, but none of their material.

Dellwood started playing some selections from Let it Be and the one that caught my attention was 'Tommy Gets His Tonsils Out'. There must have been some joy Dellwoodville that day. I had a great time listening to new music and that night put me on the right path to discovering some fantastic artists. Dellwood decided to make a mix tape that night for me and I was really impressed by The Replacements.

A few weeks later I decided to buy Let it Be. I was impressed. It's still one of my favorite albums of all time, and it's tied with Tim as the best album by The Replacements.

'Answering Machine' is on my MP3 player because it is a song that's brilliant in my opinion. Paul Westerberg created an angst driven song about the frustrations we face when it comes to relationships. Some of us have had the experience of being in a relationship and it somehow ends without anyone telling you that it's over. I had experienced that a few months before I listened to 'Answering Machine'.

When I heard 'Answering Machine' for the first time, I was hooked, plus I was blown away by how the song incorporated the loop of the operators voice saying "If you need help...If you need help". There is this slow progression where the operators voice becomes more distorted. Damn, that's good. Also, the musical minimalism of this song adds to the greatness. I hope you enjoy this song of the day and have a great weekend.

TonyDoug Wright is The Lost Soul of Rock and Roll. He will not hang up and dial the operator.

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