In an interview with future biographer Bob Mehr, Paul Westerberg said that he intentionally intended Folker to flow together in a way that none of his other records ever had, and boy did he succeed.
That said, the ongoing musical and thematic consistency of Folker meant that it was slightly more difficult to pick out individual tracks as standouts, a thing that was much easier on Come Feel Me Tremble when he followed the coulda-been-rockabilly “Knockin’ Em Back” with the fuzzed out “Pine Box” with the acoustic “Meet Me Down The Alley.”
What this means for me was that I was originally going to write about both “How Can You Like Him?” and “Breathe Some New Life,” but the fact that they’re both slow-to-mid tempo songs that live primarily around their choruses, while featuring a carousel of acoustic guitars, electric guitars and ramshackle drums meant that I’d pretty much be writing the same thing twice, with the only distinction being the lyrics that I quoted.
Well we made a mad dash for the good life
And we passed when we weren’t looking
And we made a swift retreat to the danger
That we’d see every evening
It ain’t happened yet, I ain’t holding’ my breath
The first couple of lines of “Breathe Some New Life” is sung by Paul over just a shimmering guitar, echoing like he’s screaming from across the street, and about halfway that through the band — i.e. Paul’s overdubs of himself — kick in. But his voice is wavering, barely staying on key, missing just enough of the notes so you know that it’s probably on purpose, especially has he pulls it together on the chorus.
I wanna breathe some new life
Breathe some new life
Some new life
Ain’t happened yet, I ain’t holding’ my breath
There’s some keyboards supporting all of this, as well as a crunchy rhythm guitar, and even a solo that sounds like it was cribbed from an early-70s Stones album, but for me, it all comes down to Paul’s singing on the chorus. It just kills me the way he sings “Breeeeeeathe.” “Sommmmmmmmmme.” “Newwwwwww.” “Liiiiiiffffe.” each and every time.
“Breathe Some New Life”
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