Saturday, January 14, 2012

I Sold My Soul For a Song....or at least I should have....

Slim Dunlap, the former guitarist from the Replacements, had (has) a song on his first solo album, The Old New Me, that just might be the best song you've never heard.  It's called "Taken On the Chin".  It carries a lot of meaning for me....and I'll tell you why!

At the end of my college days, I used to see Slim play in a local coffee shop all the time. He showed up with his acoustic guitar, and served his songs straight up with no bullshit, but with a very affable vibe. He had a great rapport with his audience, because he presented himself with a wisdom and good humor that made him come off like Ronnie Wood meets Bob Dylan (for lack of a better way of describing it).  I imagine that Izzy Stradlin' might have pulled up a chair and joined him, had he only been there. He was so cool in a very sincere sort of way. 

Anyway, introduced this song, "Taken On the Chin" by relating a story about how he had once gotten clocked in the face and knocked down right on the street on Hennepin Ave in Minneapolis, by some random dude.  Across the street was a police car, and Slim said that he walked to the car, and told the cop sitting in it that he had been assaulted and demanded that the perpetrator be arrested.  The cop looked him up and down, then looked at the other guy as he was walking away, and said to Slim, "....taken on the chin...."

Then he played this song, and it kind-of floored me because the lyrics described how I felt and where I was at the time.  "You call this a hell hole, 'Cause you can't call this a life, The only forgiveness you'll find here's at the edge of a knife.....and it's taken on the chin..."

And he meant it too, which made it mean even more to me, and I started thinking about my life and what I wanted out of it a little bit more deeply because of it. I was in that limbo faze where I didn't know what the fuck to do, but I knew that I was going to have to do SOMETHING, and was scared shitless.  Scared of staying where I was, and also scared of leaving.

A couple of months later, he played with his band at a Rock N' Roll bar I regularly guzzled beer at with my homeboys.  It was on some holiday weekend and it was raining, and the place was severely lacking in its usual numbers.  I recall that I was in some pissy, whoa-is-me kind of mood that day, and was drowning my sorrows about some most-likely insignificant horseshit of the day.  Then I heard Slim say into the mic, "This song is called 'Taken On the Chin'', so....I grabbed another beer and got my ass in front of the stage. 

Again, there was hardly anyone there, but he still gave everything in his heart and soul to his performance and his songs, especially this one, and it really impressed me.  And I learned a very valuable lesson.  Whatever bullshit I was getting down and out about didn't fucking matter, because....THIS guy was playing his heart out, no matter how many people were there, and no matter who the fuck they were, because he was doing it for HIMSELF.  I realized that I was going to have to do the same damn thing, in my own way and context.

And you know what?  I believe that I always have, and can often recognize when others have too. I appreciate that sort of thing.

Anyway, here's the song.

Does it sound to you the same way it sounds to me?

Marty E.