There are always more reasons not to make art than to make it. And if you don’t earn any money from it…. If I persist, meager as my output is at times, it is because of a need regardless of reason. I don’t believe anyone deserves a medal for persisting. Still, I admire those who persist well.
Paul Westerberg has spent the last three decades writing songs and making home recordings. A lucky few get to hear them. The rest of us get to hear the ones Westerberg has chosen to record for public consumption. Now, he may not be the best judge of his own work. Run for the Country, for example, never made it past the demo stage. He has been known to throw lyrics away and record new songs over not quite as new ones. He just knocks them out. Who knows what gems have been lost or lie around unheard.
It’s apparent that a song must feel fresh for Westerberg to give it a chance of survival. I have lost countless drawings and paintings due to a loss of fresh engagement with the piece. Overworking a piece is a constant danger. I see those tendencies in Westerberg. Yet he regards Suicaine Gratifaction as his best solo album and to me it’s his most overworked.
Westerberg is endlessly fascinating to me because of his contradictions. He has the heart and soul of an expressionist. But then his self-awareness seems to step in and muddy the product. The range of emotions in his work is far wider than what I hear in other singer/songwriters. He wears his intelligence very lightly. He suffers from depression. Keeps his sense of humor. Those of us with depression may never stop trying to say something worthwhile, but a part of us never believes we’ve succeeded. Sometimes all we can do is laugh at ourselves.