“You ought to be a silent film star…
Keep that pretty little trap shut”
An originator of the Alternative Music movement of the 1980s, Paul Westerberg served as the leader of The Replacements. Their albums were never commercial successes, but they influenced most of the grunge rockers of the early 1990s, notably Kurt Cobain and Johnny Reznick. The group disbanded by the early 90s, with Westberg embarking on a solo career that seemed a continuation of his Replacements work. Many equate his influence on the group similar to John Fogerty in CCR. He wrote the songs, sang, played guitar and was the overall director of activities. But without the name Replacements on the marquee, he never gained momentum.
While the influence of Westerberg goes unheralded, unlike peers R.E.M., he reenergized his efforts in 2002 with the release of the double album ‘Stereo’ and ‘Mono’. The songwriting was top notch and all instruments were played by Westerberg himself. The homemade quality of the production and ramshackle blues feel gave his music a much needed organic push. The song ‘Silent Film Star’ seemed to be the anchor of the album, embodying his new, more confident, sound.
“Don’t dare ask for your photograph
You couldn’t bear lying in some drawer”
‘Silent Film Star’ is a wonderful paeon to the male/female dynamic. Seen, perhaps, as a sexist rant, the song actually portrays a man who is at the point in the relationship where enough has been said and there is no way to resolve the damage that has been done. Set these dark images to a pulsing blues riff with a melody line that explodes into a chanting chorus and you have a song that will stick with you as well as confront your own personal attitudes.