So sick & so divine: An appreciation of Valentine

“If you were a pill, I’d take a handful at my will and knock you back with something sweet and strong”

Lately, The Vodo has been begging me for Replacements’ bootlegs and Westerberg rarities. He alleges that this to help set a mood for a story he’s working on, but I think he just likes to challenge me. So far, I have not failed him. At least I don’t think I have.

So, I’ve had ‘Mats on the brain for the past few weeks. The irony here is that they are my all-time favorite band and yet I hardly ever listen to their music. I’m not sure why this is. Every once in awhile I’ll cue up “Let it Be” (arguably their best) or, more likely, my playlist featuring 26 versions of “Can’t Hardly Wait” (because I am nothing if not obsessive), but mostly I skip by their music because I just don’t feel like listening to it. Or I feel like I’ve listened to that song a million times. Familiarity breeds contempt?

This morning as I was trying to cleanse the Juice Newton from my brain, and I decided to search for the word Valentine in honor of the holiday. I was curious to see what would come up. In my head, I guessed Tom Waits’ “Blue Valentine” and that’s about it. My brain, after all, was sticky with the non-stop Juice.

As soon as I spied “Valentine” by The Replacements, I was all hell yes, I love that song. In fact, I had totally forgotten the song even existed which is too bad. This is one of the song that made me fall in love with Paul Westerberg’s writing.

“Valentine” is, for me, one of the unforgotten Westerberg gems. Even if I were to rifle off my favorite ‘Mats songs, I don’t think it’d make the cut. Plus, I often never finish the list after I get past the Holy-Triumvirate (Can’t Hardly Wait, Left of the Dial, Bastards of Young).

But you got to give “Valentine” props. It’s so clever. Most people laud the “you wished upon a star that turned into a plane” line. Which, you know, is good but kind of pedestrian. And then there’s the whole pill metaphor. Which is great. . . what with all that pills can imply, imparting both relief from pain/illness or death.

But my favorite line of the song is: “Trouble keeping your head up when you’re hungry and you’re fed up.” I just love the play of hungry and fed up. It’s so damn clever and such an apt description for that kind of exasperation and desperation. It’s the kind of wordplay that made me fall in love with Westerberg’s music. Such a nice thing to remember today.

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3 Comments

  1. Jonathon 14.Feb.11 at 9:32 pm

    The rhyme scheme in this song is fantastic too, especially with the hungry/fed up line. A wonderful song.

    Reply
  2. Placemat 16.Feb.11 at 4:09 pm

    Also my fav line… followed close by “Strung out on some face, well I know it ain’t mine.”

    Reply
  3. Smoo 06.Mar.11 at 12:01 am

    This is why you are one of my favorite humans!

    Reply

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