"Mr. Rabbit" / Paul Westerberg
Sometimes I get things backwards. Thanks to Nick Hornby, I started listening to Paul Westerberg way before I ever started listening to his former band, The Replacements. Now, I dig the Replacements' sloppy garage punk-pop, but I'm still fonder of Westerberg's low-fi solo stuff.
This comes from his 2002 CD Stereo, which he claims he mostly made in his basement in suburban Minneapolis (Edina, if you want to be specific -- now don't go stalking him!). For all I know, Westerberg's basement has a gleaming state-of-the-art recording studio built in it, but I tend to picture it as the basement rec room of my childhood home in Indianapolis, cheap pine paneling, linoleum floor, lumpy sofa and all.
And this track sounds like it was recorded in his basement, but that's what I like about it -- it's just an electric guitar and drums (could even be a drum machine for all I know), with one repeated circular riff that does double duty as a bass line. And some days, after this has come up on my shuffle that riff spools over and over in my head for hours.
It's not even a Westerberg original -- apparently Burl Ives (of all people) recorded this years ago. Could be something Westerberg's family listened to when he was a kid, which he started playing for his own kid, eventually adding more slouchy syncopation and delivering it in his trademark raspy snarl.
Still, I love this track. It was the first thing I thought of this morning when I woke up, and I sang it to myself as I did my own Easter Bunny duty, filling baskets with plastic grass and foil-wrapped chocolate and jelly beans. (And yes, my kids are too old to believe in the Easter Bunny but they still expect Easter baskets.)
So here it is, my Easter gift to you. Forget all the alleluias and Easter hymns from church; this is the refrain that's lifting my spirits today: "Every little soul must shi-i-ine, / Every little soul must shine...."