My Top 1000 Songs #397: Achin' To Be
I get the sense the Replacements' 1989 record Don't Tell A Soul was a bit divisive among fans. Some of this may stem from the arguably over-polished production (addressed on the later alternate mix included in 2019's Dead Man's Pop box set), but maybe some folks are less enthralled by Paul Westerberg's mellowing with age. Still, while the record may lack some of the anarchic glory of band peaks like Let It Be and Tim, I love hearing Westerberg's lyrical gifts shine.
Album standouts like "I'll Be You" and "Asking Me Lies" are more immediate and catchy, but I've always been a sucker for the midtempo "Achin' To Be." Is it a little sappy? Sure. But the tale of the misunderstood, introspective artist intrigues me. It's Paul at his most earnest and affectionate, the title refrain full of longing and uncertainty. I always tear up a bit at the song's climax. "Well I saw one of your pictures, there was nothing that I could see. If no one's on your canvas, well I'm achin' to be."Paul Westerberg, solo acoustic in the studio:Live 2014, with Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong: