Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Paul Westerberg just released an album on Amazon that you can download for 49 cents.

It comes as a 44 minute single track.

I can't stop listening to it.

There is no iPod shuffle this morning because I didn't take the bus. I decided to write about Mr. Westerberg instead.

I can't talk about 'songs' because it is one single track. There are sections that are obviously their own entities but even the most distinct portions seem a part of the whole. Songs are overlapped and layered over, they end abruptly while other songs have already started. It has been described as something like the experience of flipping through radio stations, albeit radio stations that only have access to Westerberg's entire unheard catalog of songs and snippets.

There is downloadable album art which consists of a handwritten cassette tape insert.

This album feels inevitable, as if it were the only logical step PW could have taken at this point. His work has doggedly moved further and further from any sort of recognizable a home recording artist, I've been astonished to hear a major figure be brave enough to display the most basic form of his muse.

He plays all the instruments, he does all the mixing, everything. This is literally HIS music and that gives us an eerie feeling of listening in to a private moment, almost of reading a journal. Sure the drumming is primitive and there are obvious sound deficiencies here and there but the sum far exceeds the whole of its parts.

Near the end of the 'album' (strange how even that description doesn't feel apt) there is a collage/medley of Westerberg doing various cover songs ('Rocket Man', 'I Think I Love You', etc.) and it opens our ears to the endless world of experimentation and tribute that artists constantly engage in. The hours he spent recording FULL versions of these songs were condensed into a 15 second pastiche...

There is something quite generous and humble about that. To allow us to glimpse the process and the product but not insisting that we listen to 8 minutes of it but a mere fraction of that. We IMAGINE the rest and it is done.

Do yourself a favor and download this work. It costs LESS THAN 50 cents.

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