Fans of Paul Westerberg got a pleasant surprise a month ago when a online-exclusive album called 49:00 popped up for sale on Amazon and Tunecore for the low low price of $.49. It was a single-track album, a mish-mash of gems, toss-offs and teasers that ended up sounding like a someone channel-surfing through some of the best radio stations ever imagined. It also offered up a great look inside the ADD-addled brain of one of the best songwriters of the past 30 years, starting with full songs and then quickly devolving into half-songs before it ends up with snippets of covers at the very end.
Since I downloaded 49:00 as soon as it was available and never looked back, I was shocked to read that it had been taken down and was no longer available. Rumors and speculation have been swirling, as much as they can for a musician that has been largely forgotten by the mainstream. The general assumption is some sort of copyright issue, due to the myriad of covers that Paul offers snippets of near the end of 49:00. All of the clips are incredibly short, the only one longer than 10 seconds is the Partridge Family’s “I Think I Love You,” which Paul has covered throughout his career, most notably with The Replacements.
But the denouement of this story is perhaps the most odd. Right after 49:00 was pulled from download, another Paul Westerberg track, 5:05, appeared in it’s place. This time, you can choose between a $.99 price point and a $5.05 price point. The funny part about this is that the actual run-time of 49:00 was only 43:55. Add 5:05 to that and you get, you guessed it, 49:00. This bonus track, or whatever you want to call it, seems to have been written with the expressed intent of blasting the powers that be for forcing the recall of 49:00, as evidenced by the chorus; “If they wanna sue me / can’t see through me / they’ve got a law suit / I’ve got a swim suit / all the girls and guys / enjoy the 5:05.” It also starts off with a not-so-subtle jab at “The Man” in the form of a sped-up clip of Adolf Hitler speaking.
Cheeky monkey, that Paul.
The music blog, Aquarium Drunkard, has a nice little review of the whole mess, complete with some more speculation on the ins and outs of the whole issue, as well as some insight into the equally odd, super-short clip of The Beatles “Oh, Darling” at the very end of 5:05.
Maybe, once Muxtape gets back up and running (fingers crossed) I’ll cut up 49:00 and post some of the tracks for everyone to enjoy.