Deep Dive: Paul Westerberg, 14 SONGS – 25th Anniversary
25 years ago this month, the lead singer of legendary Minneapolis band The Replacements released his first official solo album.
Co-produced with Matt Wallace, 14 SONGS wasn’t the first thing Paul Westerberg released under his own name. In fact, his solo career almost kicked off with ALL SHOOK DOWN, which was originally intended to be released under Westerberg’s name. Instead, it ended up being released as a Replacements album. That said, Westerberg did actually kick off his solo career in 1992 by contributing a few songs to the soundtrack of Cameron Crowe’s film SINGLES, including “Dyslexic Heart” and “Waiting for Somebody.”
Neither of those tunes were part of the track listing for 14 SONGS, however. Instead, Westerberg presented a full album’s worth of new solo material, including “World Class Fad,” “Runaway Wind,” and “Knockin’ on Mine.” When asked to describe the sound of the album to Rolling Stone in 1993, Westerberg replied, “It's just me. It's the sound of a thirty-three-year-old guy who lives alone and enjoys it. I'm not a part of a group. I'm comfortable with where I'm at.”
Alas, only “World Class Fad” succeeded in capturing the ear of college radio programmers, but at least it succeeded in substantial fashion, climbing to #4 on Billboard’s Alternative Rock Singles chart. Additionally, 14 SONGS as a whole helped Westerberg establish himself as a solo artist, raising his profile to such a degree that it put him in a position to contribute songs to the soundtracks of Friends, Melrose Place, and Tank Girl.
Years later, Westerberg revised his opinion of 14 SONGS, describing it as containing “overly written songs with huge expectations,” but he’s probably too close to the subject, because we know for a fact that even after 25 years, there are still a lot of fans who swear by it.
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