Here’s a sentence I never thought I’d write in my lifetime: The Replacements debuted a new song today. The Replcements debuted a new song today. After months of lead-up, the band’s founders Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson have released their cover of “I’m Not Saying,” a Gordon Lightfoot song brought to Westerberg’s attention via Nico.
Yes, the Replacements are covering Nico, who was covering Gordon Lightfoot, and it all couldn’t be more appropriate for a band whose live shows famously combined original material with raucous covers. Their “I’m Not Saying” is part of the charity compilation Songs for Slim, which was recorded in honor of ailing ‘Mats guitarist Slim Dunlap.
Here’s Nico’s version, which was recorded in 1965 and features Jimmy Page on six-string and Brian Jones on 12-string guitar:
And here’s Gordon Lightfoot’s original version, released as a single in ’65 and again on his album Lightfoot! in 1966:
As for the Replacements’ version? Check it out for yourself below. Mary Lucia debuted it on the Current at 3 p.m. today, and after hearing that first spin I am happy to report that it sounds like classic Westerberg—a little lo-fi, and with an easy groove that feels like he never stepped away from the spotlight. The track features Stinson on bass and session players Peter Anderson on drums and Kevin Bowe on guitar, and was recorded at Flowers Studios in South Minneapolis.
From former ‘Mats manager and Songs for Slim organizer Peter Jesperson:
Last fall when Paul Westerberg, Tommy Stinson and friends went into the studio to record their cover of Slim Dunlap’s song, “Busted Up,” no one knew whether things were going to click or not. They were jazzed to find that things clicked quite well,”Busted Up” was a blast! So they proceeded to roar through some other (non-Slim) covers, including a song entitled “I’m Not Sayin'” that Paul had learned from an old 45 by Nico. In 1965, a year or so before Nico joined the Velvet Underground, she recorded the song for Andrew Loog Oldham’s label Immediate. Interestingly enough, the song was written by Gordon Lightfoot and featured a young Jimmy Page playing 12-string guitar. Nico’s version is very pop. Of course, The Replacements rock it up and the vocal is one of Paul’s strongest in years.
The full EP wil go to radio next Monday, March 4th. Tracks will be available digitally Tuesday, March 5th. And a commercial 12″ vinyl version will be relased April 16th.