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Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Tres: Day 60
Wed. Mar 27, 2013

“Sadly Beautiful”
The Replacements

1990

“♫ And
you got your
father’s nose/
but you got
my soul/ sadly—
beautiful
♫”

I remember she used to pick me up from campus in her cool vintage ride; we’d find a place off the highway, and over one of the many mix tapes I made for our drives in the car, I’d read her my poetry. Looking back it was very intimate. I was amazed a woman, a writer older and so beautiful would want to spend any time with me. I loved the way she listened to my poetry and the way she took in every syllable. It was like we were making love with my words. And afterwards, we’d actually share a cigarette, passing it back and forth while listening to All Shook Down.
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Years after, that Replacements album still reminds me of her. The further along our affair grew. The more heated and closer we became, the more the memory of her linked to her favorite Replacements song—“Sadly Beautiful.” Maybe it was that Rosa, is what I called her because her skin tasted sweet as a morning flowers, actually had, like Westerberg crooned, her father’s hair and her father’s nose and after our first kiss it was like, in her hands—she held my soul.

Did you know Paul Westerberg wrote “Sadly Beautiful” with one of The Rolling Stones legendary muses in mind? Paul told the story behind “Sadly” when he said, “I wrote it thinking that Marianne Faithfull was going to sing it. Someone told me Marianne Faithful was looking for a song, and he asked if I would write her one. This came from some A + R person; Marianne had probably never heard of me. But I thought, “Oh, Marianne Faithfull wants me to write her a tune,” so I wrote her this song. It was a bout someone I knew. And once again, had it been up to me to write a song about…let’s call her “Jane”… I wouldn’t have put it on my record. It was for someone else to sing, and when Marianne Faithfull didn’t sing it, I realized it was too powerful to throw away.”

I recall, later, when we parked in her car, while listening to All Shook Down, she tried explaining me to reasons we couldn’t be together, by saying she promised her Papa—“No more poets.” What is it about women and The Replacements? Just ask Rob Sheffield, even he agrees with me that women love The ‘Mats. Sheffield once eloquent wrote in Love is a Mix Tape, “I also assumed I’d never be able to take listening to the Replacements again, but I made a new friend in the summer of 1999 who wore a rubber band around her wrist with Paul Westerberg’s name written on it. Her favorite song was “Unsatisfied” and she gave the song back to me, without knowing she was doing it, and I so loved it so much as ever. You never know.” Even though Rosa loved All Shook Down – our connection was once poetic so long ago, she will remain, forever— “Sadly Beautiful.”

P.S. I can’t forget to mention former Velvet Underground John Cale exquisite violin on “Sadly Beautiful.” Westerberg told Russell Hall how Cale ended up playing on “Beautiful” when he said, “We were in the studio, and I asked if we could get someone to play violin. And Scott Litt, the producer, said “Yeah, I think I know someone. I’ll give John Cale a call.” I thought he was joking. An hour and a half later Cale walks in. I nearly pissed in my pants. (laughs) We didn’t habe one of those little things he sticks under his chin, to play the viola, so we had to give him a rag we’d used to wipe the beer from the previous night.”

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