Thursday, July 1, 2010

Paul Westerberg “First Glimmer”

Does it help or hurt, to know too much background about an artist?

On the one hand, additional information can fill in some details that may have eluded you. On the other hand, those details can eclipse---and sometimes deflate---your own interpretation of the song.

I’ve always thought Paul Westerberg did a great job in this song, creating a particular “late summer/lost summer” mood, in his tone and in the particulars of the scenes in this song.

Do you remember me long ago
Used to wear my heart on my sleeve
I guess it still shows

We watched the sun fall down and
I hop on my bike; still that night

You're my first glimmer of light
You were my. You was my first
Glimmer of light

It manages to be cinematic and intimate at the same time, this image of the narrator pulling his love onto the back of his motorcycle at sunset in summer.

A few years after first hearing this song, I read an interview with Slim Dunlap, who used to be in the band The Replacements with Westerberg. Dunlap was saying that he sees Paul around town, semi-regularly, on his bike.

As in bicycle.

Dunlap was saying that he sees Westerberg pedaling around town.

So now, when I hear him sing “I hop on my bike” I don’t see a Harley, I see a Schwinn.

“First Glimmer” becomes less “Purple Rain” and more the "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head“ scene from "Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid.”

It’s not necessarily a bad thing. The song actually becomes a little sweeter because of it.

But the change came, because I knew too much.

No comments:

Post a Comment