A Concise & Ecstatic History of How The Replacements' "Unsatisfied" Came to Be My New Theme for Autumn/Life


1. On July 12 the wonderful Tumblr named "somehillbilly" posted this post with links to a whole mess of Hole rarities. I downloaded them all, because I love Hole. I didn't listen to all of them right away (mostly I was preoccupied with the "cheerleader version" of "Rock Star," and with that late-'90s live version of "Teenage Whore" that Courtney stops after 30 seconds and tells the audience "I might have Meg Ryan's hair, but I've still got the touch"), but last Thursday or something the Hole version of "Unsatisfied" came up on my iPod and I let it play (or let it be, if you will).

2. This is the version of "Unsatisfied" that's from somehillbilly's Hole rarities thing:

I like how the beginning sounds like it's an actual Hole song, like a fetal version of "Boys on the Radio," all orchidy and tea rose. It's not a song that Courtney wrote but it's classic Courtney anyway; she was born to fuck up those lyrics. Hole and Nirvana both mean a lot to me because -- at their greatest -- they make feeling like shit sound really glorious, and that's absolutely what's happening in this version of "Unsatisifed."

3. I listened to Hole's "Unsatisfied" about seven times in a row and then, later on that day or maybe the next day, listened to the original version too. I got Let It Be three or so years ago, after an afternoon when I went over my friend Gina's house and her husband was playing the record and I fell in love with "Androgynous," how it's one of the most melancholy yet happy-making songs I'll ever hear in my life -- but I don't think I ever listened to the entire album. So last Thursday or Friday I put "Unsatisfied" on my iPod and walked down to the farmers market and bought a big apple and the farmer-man gave me a little apple to go with it, free of charge. I think they were gala apples.

4. On Saturday I went to a Coffee Bean on Laurel Canyon Boulevard and spent like five hours at a table on their patio, drinking iced coffee and writing a part of my book where my main dude is mean to his wife about their Christmas tree, goes to a weird party with a possibly malevolent girl in a snow-leopard-fur coat, drinks a lot of Campari and shit-talks Brian Jones, then leaves the party with the possibly malevolent girl: it was a mega-fulfilling book-writing sesh. The whole time I was writing I played a playlist of 16 songs on repeat, the most important of those songs being:

-"Unsatisfied" by The Replacements
-"Jump in the River" by Sinead O'Connor
-"Strange Loop" by Liz Phair
-Cat Power's version of "I Found a Reason"

Then I went to the gym and listened to "Unsatisfied" over and over while running, the original and also the Hole cover.

5. On Sunday I felt like seeing the ocean so I went down to Santa Monica and parked off of Montana, which is a street with lots of stores for rich people. I went to Peet's and got a coffee with a "pump of pumpkin" and then walked down the street listening to "Unsatisfied" a thousand times. It was a nice day and I saw some nice things, like these beads:

and I bought a really good lemon walnut muffin from Sweet Lady Jane, which I love for taking its name from the Rolling Stones song and for making gorgeous cakes like these:

I also met a very good dog, and listened to "Unsatisfied" a thousand more times, and decided that "Unsatisfied" is my new theme for autumn/life. 

6. "Unsatisfied" by The Replacements is a beautiful heartbreaker with guitars that sound like that thing that happens sometimes in Los Angeles in December, when it's sunny out but it's also raining and lightning and thundering. I love the way Paul Westerberg sings it, how his voice is so sweet but ripped-up and ragged, how you never doubt that he's totally desperate. And I'm into the repetition of the lyrics, how he sings the word "satisfied" nine times and the word "unsatisfied" five times and you just want him to keep singing them more and more; his sadness is defiant and deep and it's exhilarating. 

The reason I'm claiming it as my autumn/life theme is I like how it's almost entirely impossible to feel sorry for myself while listening to "Unsatisfied." If you hear the lyrics "I'm so unsatisfied" and think "Oh god, that's me, I'm so unsatisfied" and then get all mucky and depressed about it, that's so comically pathetic. It's so much better to listen to "Unsatisfied" and feel like every line's punching you in the gut and heart, and to let your love and hate for whichever guy/girl you're thinking about intensify in equal measure, and then just get high off knowing you're probably always going to be unsatisfied and it's cool to be valiant about that. It's cool to feel every feeling besides "self-pitying." 

7. And then after walking up and down Montana my friend Tracey took me to see Lloyd Cole in a guitar shop in Santa Monica, and it was so lovely. They had lots of Beatles songbooks there:

and a beautiful sitar. At home I listened to basically every Replacements album and read most of the Replacements chapter of Our Band Could Be Your Life. I appreciated some of the anecdotes -- like the stuff about how Paul Westerberg used to hide in the bushes outside the Stinsons' house to listen in on their band practice, and how Tommy Stinson was like four-years-old when he joined the band and they'd have to hide him from the club owners at shows and he'd cry when they wouldn't let him play pinball -- but for the most part the chapter just left me cold. The Replacements don't need some rock-nerd documentation of their role in "the musical revolution that happened right under the nose of the Reagan Eighties." The Replacements should be a romance novel.

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