As teenagers, we spent our summers loitering outside the art gallery in downtown Vancouver. Sean, one of my friends from the group was, and still is, a voracious fan and collector of music and he force-fed me an endless supply. One day he lent me The Replacements’ 1985 album Tim (on cassette, ’cause it was the 80’s) to listen to on my Walkman for my bus ride back to the suburbs. I got off the bus and right away phoned Sean, full of adrenalin, blathering about Hold My Life, Bastards of Young, Left of the Dial and Here Comes A Regular. It was the album that would forever change my life. At that point, I’d mostly been listening to hardcore punk. The Replacements were raw and edgy and had that punk rock attitude which I identified with, but they could also write such beautiful and heartfelt songs … like Skyway.
Their “disastrous” 1986 appearance on Saturday Night Live was classic Replacements. Their list of antics that night included “redecorating” their dressing room, an on-air obscenity, Bob wearing Paul’s wife’s jumpsuit, a backwards somersault resulting in torn pants and an exposed backside, all of which resulted in a tongue-lashing from SNL Producer Lorne Michaels between songs, banning them for life. They then traded clothes for their second song, replaced the lyrics to Kiss Me On The Bus with “kiss me on the butt”, cheekily sent a borrowed guitar from the SNL band crashing to the ground after Bob drunkenly stumbled and broke his own, and later trashed their SNL-provided hotel room. It was supposed to be their big break on National TV. Not only did they refuse to sell out, they deliberately sabotaged their opportunity, which being a non-conformist and a rebellious teen, I admired.
My uncle, Colin Crawford, grew up in the UK as a 1960’s folkie listening to Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel and Laura Nyro, all of whom are now, a few decades later, among my favourites. We thought it would be fun to record a cover song or two. I sent him a few ideas for songs and Skyway (from The Replacements’ 1987 album, Pleased To Meet Me) was one that immediately appealed to his folky roots. Colin plays acoustic guitar on this song, as does regular North Atlantic Explorers’ contributor Jonathan Anderson (Andy Shauf, Teen Daze) who also mixed the track. The wonderful Devon Sproule sings harmonies. The stunning cover photograph is courtesy of Laurie Brown.
Hear Skyway and more North Atlantic Explorers on our Spotify playlist – Sadness + Beauty.
Skyway is also available at Bandcamp & the usual digital outlets.
Visit Devon Sproule at devonsproule.com
Visit Laurie Brown at pondercast.ca