This song isn’t freaky so much for its musical structure or fascinating artistic experimentalism. No, “Lovelines” freakiness comes from its lyrical inspiration. One day, while recording the album Hootenanny, the Replacements (who were probably drunk) decided it would be funny to put the personals column in a local paper to music. Turns out, they were right.
While Paul Westerberg’s laughter might be somewhat mocking, there’s a genuine warmth to this goofy little goof, a studio throwaway that showed a lighter side to the Mats. They were always better known for both their ramshackle, drunken live performance and their razor-sharp angst; Westerberg’s usual themes of heartbreak, loneliness, and alienation really didn’t leave much room for fun. (FYI, Hootenanny also contains arguably their most painfully heartbreaking song ever, the masterful “Within Your Reach”.) So “Lovelines” gives them a rare chance to be young and silly on record. I’m not quite sure how the song made it onto the final track list, but I’m really glad it did.
As Paul Westerberg became a more proficient songwriter, his sense of humor showed through in more subtle wordplay that was both clever and emotional. But this little silly slice also shows that he could draw inspiration from virtually anywhere. To me, that’s a hallmark of true talent and creativity.