With my boot I signed for us all, or how I’m hearing Finally Here Once

With apologies, I would like to politely disagree with Jim and Jay regarding Finally Once Here. If you go read the comments on that lyrics pages, you’ll see that these er, gentlemen, find this new song off 3oclockreep to be a sad ending or sequel to either “Bastards of Young” or “Achin’ to Be.”

They are wrong (and if you don’t realize that I am only teasing then you need to go elsewhere). I, however, hear the song differently. What I hear is an artist a little bit puzzled by his place in the new musical landscape. He is singing to (well literally it sounds like he’s singing to an actress) but in my interpretation he is using the playhouse as a metaphor for the music business.

He’s singing to some sort of (again in my mind) girl with guitar and a dream, someone who sings sad songs that nobody listens to. And he’s like, “I totally get it. I was finally here once.”

He goes on to explain that he used to be the happy, go-lucky good time guy, and now he’s being portrayed as a sad shut-in. And, the coup de grace, he accepts that not only was he finally here once, but he was here well before your time and well before his time.

To me it’s a song about being a little puzzled about where you fit now, because you used to be the dude/chick who was ahead of the game and now they just think you’re a hermit. To me it’s not sad so much as searching. Which is kind of why I always dug Our Man Paul’s songwriting, so much longing that’s so damn relateable.

So how wrong was I?

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10 Comments

  1. MattDW 29.Aug.08 at 3:36 am

    I think you’re pretty spot-on, actually. I didn’t realize what it was really about until the 2nd time I listened. I’m an actor (and writer) myself, which I only mention so you know what I mean when I say I damn near burst into tears when I realized what it was really about.

    I hear pretty much what you hear. I hear playing in crappy venues for no roses, no applause, no money, and no one wanting your autograph. I hear not even bothering to write graffiti backstage (which seems more like a rock thing than a theatre thing, but what the hell).

    The only place I disagree with you is the meaning of the phrase “Finally Here Once.” What it means to me (right now) is, “Hey, at least I was there. At least I got to get out there and do it.”

    I’ll tell ya, every time I think he’s gone and broken my heart for the last time he manages to churn out another one. It’s late, quiet nights like this I’m glad he doesn’t listen to anyone when they try to talk him out of writing the quiet, sad ones.

    Next time I’ll comment about one of the rockers. Promise.

  2. Jimdracula 29.Aug.08 at 7:11 am

    Don’t think there is one clear cut answer…Like Dylan, Westerberg’s songwriting is like playing tennis with the net down…it’s no small thing.

    Hell, there are times I regard Westerberg as a soul singer…he seems to keep time with a broken heart.
    “Achin’ to Become.”

  3. jaytaco 29.Aug.08 at 9:27 am

    Great thing about Paul, like Jim was talking about, is that he has the rare ability to write songs that can be wrapped around everybodys lives in a deeply personal way.

  4. jaytaco 29.Aug.08 at 9:30 am

    That last post is kinda what I mean- it’s like 10-15% off. an’t find the words. His songs take the shape of the listener sorta.

  5. zook 04.Sep.08 at 3:11 pm

    I mostly agree with you, Jodi, though I can see where an Achin’ to Be reference might apply too. I don’t think he is singing to anyone in particular (actress, girl, etc..) but is possibly referring to the Mats in the first two verses. It seems like the band is always mentioned as the band that could’ve been, the band that would have made it big if they hadn’t screwed it up for themselves, the band that no one paid attention to until it was too late. I don’t think he sees it that way but knows that this is how the band is portrayed (“You were always cast…)

    The last verse is his awakening – acknowledging his status as a recluse but not accepting this role and with a kick of his boot reminds everyone (in a typical, Mats-like boisterous manner) that not only were the Replacements a kick ass band but that he is still around to kick some ass too. He’s saying don’t feel sorry for the Mats because they went further than they thought and left on their terms. He’s also reminding the young guns that Mats were a force to reckon with (“I shouted I was finally here once, well before your time.”) and that he ain’t done yet (“Yes, I was finally here once, well before my time.”)

    I don’t think he is puzzled but instead having an epiphany that his legacy is not the Mats but rather is still a work in progress and he needs to quit living the stereotype of shut in and get out there again. I think this is Paul announcing his second coming. Perhaps a Grandpaboy record is not too long from coming…

  6. Jimdracula 04.Sep.08 at 4:02 pm

    Ditto & Westerberg’s legacy is far from over…How did Grandpaboy put it? “Don’t come lookin’ for us – we’ll find ya”

  7. jay 04.Sep.08 at 9:54 pm

    Zook, I find your post far more inspiring than either McCain or Obama’s. Well put. I’m all fired up now.

  8. Jodi 04.Sep.08 at 10:59 pm

    Ahh Zook, even when you are wrong and disagree with me you make my heart go pitter pat.

  9. Veets 30.Jan.09 at 3:33 pm

    Could it be about Paul and the Mrs.? Or about some other woman Paul knows personally, hopefully. I suppose there’s the possibility of an Elton John / Candle in the Wind analogy, but I hope even if true Paul would never admit to it.

    Maybe this is too obvious, so sorry to insult your collective intelligence if so, but I hear “finally here once” as an expression of finally making it, reaching that goal that one was shooting for, but then losing the spotlight and now looking back on it.

    I like Paul’s twist at the end that he was “finally here once well before my time.” I completely agree – his artistic peak (if we’ve even seen it yet) is more in recent times than back in the days of the Mats. I’ll never understand why Stereo/Mono (or even just Mono), CFMT, and 49:00 etc. didn’t get popular recognition.

    Is there any evidence out there about when this song was actually written or recorded? The INXS/This Time connection still bugs me.

    FYI, “tragedienne” = an actress who specializes in tragic roles. A new one for me.