Monday, February 16, 2009

2008 Unsung - Paul Westerberg

It seems impossible that Paul Westerberg, arguably one of the greatest American songwriters of the last 25 years, has gone virtually unheard on his quartet of 2008 releases. His slapdash promotional strategy of internet releases by different sources for varying prices with limited availability certainly contributes to his dimly lit profile. But even huge Westerberg fans were unaware of his three track release that became available on Christmas Eve.

D.G.T., available for the bargain basement price of $0.74 from Tunecore, leads off with a suitably shaggy rip of the Christmas staple "Away in A Manger" (here titled "Always in A Manger"), followed by a crackling version of the traditional country lament "Streets of Laredo" (you probably know Johnny Cash's version) that sounds exactly like you'd want a Westerberg country cover to sound, and it's starkly romantic tag "For I'm a young cowboy, I know I done wrong" is suitably Westerberg-ian. The third song is the title track, a shuffling gospel country blues suffused with enough punk rock spirit and scorched earth vocals to stamp it as Westerberg's best in years. He might not be back, but I get the feeling he's on his way.

So here's a link to the best 74 cents you'll spend this year.

Paul Westerberg - "Streets of Laredo"

1 comment:

Kevin McClatchy said...

Thanks for the heads up on the cover. I'd be thrilled if Westerberg made it all the way back.
On the topic of the Streets of Laredo, another great version was done by Vince Gill for the PBS documentary Long Journey Home: The Irish in America. He blends Streets of Laredo with The Bard of Armagh and it is beautiful.