Saturday, August 29, 2020

Certain Songs #1903: The Replacements – “Attitude” | Medialoper

Album: All Shook Down
Year: 1990

A few years ago, on the album Wrecking Ball, Bruce Springsteen put out a song called “Jack of All Trades,” and all I could think of was how surprised it took him that long to write a song with that title. Cos it seemed inevitable that he would write one.

So extra kudos to Paul Westerberg for writing his inevitable song much earlier in his career, as “Attitude” pretty much sums up the ‘Mats in a single line.

Well when you open that bottle of wine
You open a can of worms every time
Now you don’t stop, that ain’t true
Never said a word, I never had to
It was my attitude
That you thought was rude
It was my attitude

And in fact, the story goes that “Attitude” is the only song on All Shook Down to feature Westerberg, Tommy Stinson, Slim Dunlap and Chris Mars. Which is interesting, as it’s kind of an atypical song when compared to the previous couple albums, anchored by snaky guitar hook from Dunlap — which you’re either gonna love or it’s gonna drive you screaming away from the song and an loping, almost countryish feel with Mars on the brushes on the sticks.

Where it was a totally typical ‘Mats song was in the lyrics:

Old habits are hard to break
And I don’t know how much I can take
What I think is on the tip
Of my tongue should I let it slip
It was my attitude
That you thought was rude
Not me!
It was my attitude
That you thought was rude

Also gotta give it up for Paul’s knowing rasp, one of the most playful vocals he ever recorded — both the yelp on “let it slip” and that “not me!” interjection kill me every time — and even letting his vocals slide up onto falsetto as the song progresses, especially at the end of the bridge.

Remember sitting back in school
I held my tongue until it turned blue
They said I had an attitude

Now I can see how some folks might find all of this too cutesy by half, but I think that the glibness of the vocal matches the “fuck you” vibe of the lyrics, which are full of self-awareness but bereft of any kind of apology for said attitude.

You just failed my test
‘Cause I know you be the best
So wipe me off as you conclude
A POV is what I can’t use
I got an attitude
I got an attitude

In the end, Paul just keeps repeating “said I had an attitude” in that falsetto while Slim’s guitar keeps agreeing with him, until Paul finally ends the song.


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