Happy 25th Anniversary + 1 day to “14 Songs”, released June 15, 1993. Hop into The wayback Machine for this interview from June 1993 bu Robert Hilburn for the LA Times.
POP MUSIC: An Untroubled Troubadour
Songwriter Paul Westerberg returns with ’14 Songs’ about insecurities and desires–after battling his own
June 06, 1993| Robert Hilburn
Q: Why did you feel freer writing songs for a solo album than for the band?
A: I never would have presented “Black Eyed Susan” or maybe “Even Here We Are” for fear that it didn’t fit the idea of this punk-rock beast . . . or that the other guys wouldn’t want to play them. This time all I had to worry about was what are the best songs. It was also rather nice not having musicians waiting around, and you’re always aware that they don’t have anything to do, so you tend to speed things up when you should take two weeks for that three-minute song.
Q: “Things” on the new album is one of the most tender songs you’ve ever written. It’s about not being able to communicate your feelings to someone until the day you say goodby to her. Listening to it, you feel it is absolutely autobiographical. Is that just an illusion?
A: It’s no illusion. “Things” is one of the songs I had to coax myself into putting on the album. I didn’t want any of that confessional stuff. But I was in the car one day with (Replacements guitarist) Slim Dunlop. He said he had a song, but he didn’t want to put it on his record because it told too much. And I was going, “Man, that’s the one you gotta put on the record.” And as soon as the words came out of my mouth, I knew I had to do the same thing.
Q: What’s the story behind the song?
A: It’s sort of a summation of my life. I feel like I’m always leaving something. It could be looked upon as my relationship with people or my relationship with the band. It’s a way of saying, “I don’t belong to you. I belong to what I do.” My marriage is over, so there’s undeniable threads there.
And in no4 particular order, here are my 5 favorite songs of the 14 (Don’t @ me, First Glimmer and Runaway Wind fans).
Things I’m bound to tell you like, that dress looks great on ya
I could use some breathing room but I’m still in love with you
Things I could never tell you, down the line someday
You’ll be a song I sing, a thing I give away
Packed my things today, I packed my things today