Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Certain Songs #1466: Paul Westerberg – “Eyes Like Sparks” | Medialoper

Album: Mono
Year: 2002

While it was cool that Paul Westerberg had stockpiled a whole album of rock ‘n’ roll songs and a whole album of ballads, I guess that a case could be made that he should have just done a single album of all of the “best” tracks from the previous three years, but not much of a case if you ask me.

For one thing, that’s exactly the kind of thing that would have happened if he was still with a major label, and for another, it was kinda cool that Paul was following the blueprint of Rod Stewart in the early 1970s, where he alternated boozy rock ‘n’ roll Saturday night albums with gorgeous hungover Sunday morning solo albums.

And finally, had he pared Stereo/Mono down to a single record — Sterno? — it’s entirely possible that one of my favorite songs from Mono would have never made the cut, the near-throwaway “Eyes Like Sparks.”

Opening with its main riff already in progress — which is fine, because it pretty much never changes for the rest of the song — “Eyes Like Sparks” has only a single verse, which is repeated over and over and over.

Just stay where you are
Baby, stay away from me
With your eyes like sparks
And my heart like gasoline

But, then again, what else could there possibly be to say? Everytime he looks into their eyes, his heart essentially explodes. I also love his phrasing: “stay . . . where . . . you . . . are” and “your . . . eyes . . . like . . . sparks

Now, I’ll admit that if want a song to go somewhere, “Eyes Like Sparks” is probably going to drive you nuts: there really aren’t any verses, or a bridge, there there is a pretty cool guitar solo about halfway through and he does a lot of playing around with the vocal overdubs — sometimes they sound like they were recorded on the stairs leading down to the basement the rest of the song was recorded in — and sometimes they’re clearly in the basement.

I think that’s part of the whole “mono” conceit: cramming everything your record into a mono mix is going to wreak havoc on your normal sense of musical space. Especially if you always instantly listen to songs as a 3-D stack of different instruments vertically from top to bottom. At least for me, listening to things in mono always kinda messes up my normal understanding of how things should sound, as I think that not having the horizontal left to right mix fucks with me. Or something.

“Eyes Like Sparks”

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