Local Current Blog

Paul Westerberg’s sister Julie, ‘Waitress in the Sky’ inspiration, retires after four decades as flight attendant

'Waitress in the Sky' is track five on the Replacements' 1985 album 'Tim.'

Sanitation expert and a maintenance engineer
Garbage man, a janitor and you my dear
A real union flight attendant, my oh my
You ain’t nothin’ but a waitress in the sky

The lyrics to the Replacements’ “Waitress in the Sky,” a singalong favorite from their 1985 album Tim, are hardly complimentary. What listeners might not realize, though, is that the song isn’t a rant about poor service — traveling by plane wasn’t a luxury the ‘Mats were usually able to afford, and they certainly wouldn’t have expected to be served champagne if they did fly. (They might have tried to steal it from first class.)

In Bob Mehr’s Trouble Boys, he explains that the song was actually inspired by stories songwriter Paul Westerberg heard from his sister Julie, a flight attendant. “I was playing the character of the creep who demands to be treated like a king,” Westerberg told Mehr. “I’d heard all the stories from my sister about how [passengers] would yell at the flight attendants and then how they’d ‘accidentally’ spill something on them.”

Now, as we’ve learned from one of Julie’s coworkers, she’s retired after a four-decade career serving airborne passengers on Delta — formerly Northwest Airlines, a carrier based in Minneapolis-St. Paul. Flight attendant Aimee Sosa’s spouse sent this photo to The Current and requested “Waitress in the Sky,” a request we were of course happy to oblige. Congratulations, Julie!

  • cbsteller

    The Dean of American Rock Critics, Robert Christgau, termed the song “tastelessly resentful” at the time.

    • Not surprising. He’s one of the most overrated music critics in America.

      • cbsteller

        So you’d give him a C+?

      • Dan Bruning

        And Paul is one of the most underrated musicians in America

  • Eric (Shin pad assassin)

    This is a great song/album that deserved better production- a problem that would plague the ‘Mats until their demise. The sound (mostly) is flat on this album. The late, great, Tommy Ramone (the producer) was partially deaf. He somehow managed to take the piss out of “Bastards of Young.”

    • BG

      Shitty production, shitty cover, they should’ve stayed on TwinTone.

      • mattg629

        4 decades and “original” Mats fans still can’t get over the evolution of the band. Sad and funny at the same time. Love Bob, love Slim. Love Twin Tone, love Sire. It doesn’t have to be a binary choice, dude.

        • BG

          I’m sure you prefer Dont Tell a Soul to Let It Be.

      • Chris

        yup

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