Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Laughter: Trumpet Clip

Paul Westerberg: Trumpet Clip

This was the second song that jumped into my head when I heard the theme. The Joni Mitchell song was the obvious choice, but once this song got in, I haven’t been able to get it out of my head for more than a week. Even after reading this article about getting rid of earworms.

Paul Westerberg is a great songwriter, and his style has matured from his early days with The Replacements, but there is definitely a Westerberg sound, which is not to say that all of his songs sound the same, just that he has a distinctive style. “Trumpet Clip” is one of his minor gems, with an infectiously, even insidiously, catchy tune. And I am of the opinion that most songs are improved by a horn section. But the lyrics are completely ridiculous.

When I discussed Joni’s “Big Yellow Taxi” last week, I pretended that I understood the recording process that resulted in her giggle. Here, I want to believe that Westerberg wrote the tune, and just sort of made up nonsense lyrics, which he decided to keep. About 50 seconds in, after he sings, “pin the tail on Demi Moore,” he can’t hold it together, and kind of chuckles, as he continues, singing the classic lyric, “ring around the donkey core.”

To me, a good song is something you feel in your gut, and great lyrics aren’t necessary, but they can be a bonus. I mean, how many of us think that a song containing the line: “If there's a bustle in your hedgerow, don't be alarmed now, It's just a spring clean for the May queen” is one of the greatest accomplishments of human civilization? And on the other hand, there is, say, pretty much every Richard Thompson song.

But in “Trumpet Clip,” it is that moment where the artifice is stripped away, and it is clear that Westerberg realizes the absurdity of what he is saying, that gives this song extra charm. Now, listen to it and let me know if you can get it out of your head. And if so, how.

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