Friday, April 23, 2010

Soul Asylum: Tied to the Tracks

The other day a customer says to me, "Don't look at me like a fag or anything but do you have any Soul Asylum?"

So now the reputation of this Minneapolis alterna-hardcore-roots-rock-cow-punk band, one of the eighties' most critically-respected groups, is so denigrated that suspect qualifications seem necessary just to speak their name in public, even at a bloody music store!

To hell with that; Soul Asylum mattered. Sure the dismissers could focus on their punny band name or the possibility that their one monster hit was just a fair-to-nice ballad with a heart-warming video, or claim that they threw their drummer under the bus and started dating Wynona Ryder after said fair ballad hit the upper reaches of the charts but they'd be missing those soaring songs.

The blizzard of songs, full of sadness and ripping melodies, that moved out of Minneapolis in the mid-eighties via Husker Du, The Replacements and Soul Asylum (plus Prince!) is to this day, hard to match. Yet, when this style of angst-riden pop songs shrouded in noise and dressed in flannel finally did steal the charts from M.C. Hammer, C & C Music Factory, G n' R et al, Soul Asylum had been (slightly) worn-down by record label malfeasance. It's not that the chart-topping Grave Dancer's Union lacks for good song-writing but neither the words or the music show the raw grit that their albums before (and even after!) it do.

(This version is a little rough but it fully shows what the band always did right.)

So as my little reminded that Pirner and Murphy' songs kicked ass in the saddest, catchiest way, here's a two track single of "Tied to the Tracks" b/w "Can't Go Back" pulled from the incomparable Made to Be Broken.

By the way, I sold that customer "And The Horse they Rode in On" and "Let Your Dim Lights Shine" and he walked out of there as gay happy as could be.

Tied to the Tracks link is in the comments

Support the band:

Everyone's coming out in support of Soul Asylum - go check out It's a *** Thing's great post on the band!


  1. .


  2. I've got a good boot of them. I should rip and up it.
    They do a sublime version of 'to sir with love' on it that has Lulu guesting.
    Funny how a brush with success can virtually destroy a good band and Soul Asylum were a good band.

  3. If you post it, I'll link it up here and please use that line:

    "Funny how a brush with success can virtually destroy a good band and Soul Asylum were a good band."

  4. i wore this single out in school! saw them in '85 and was blown away, but then saw them a few years after and was underwhelmed...regardless, they will always have a spot on my portable personal digital listening device.

    thanks for the memory!


  5. I love Soul Asylum too but what's with this homophobia?

  6. Thanks, I really dug their records up to Hang Time, kind of lost interest after that.

  7. I used to have a mixtape of Soul Asylum that brought tears to my eyes and my fist to the sky on more than one occasion.

  8. Yankee Boy
    I took his comment as just a statement on how forbidden it is to speak the name of Soul Asylum. After some deliberation, I characterized his remark as a "suspect qualification" so as not to condemn the guy for a flip remark but not to embrace it either.

    Thanks for leaving a comment!

  9. "Sure the dismissers could focus on their punny band name..."

    I've gotta admit, I'm just not getting the pun. Someone help me out here before I break my brain.

  10. I am a bit gay but not a total fag. I only ever listened to "Misery" and had not heard the hit "Runaway Train" as far as I know. Did not bothered to get into them based on their name seemed boring. Loud Fast Rules was a way fucking better name. Never knew about their punky background which makes them more appealing to me now since Husker Du and Replacements are hardcore-alternative favourites of mine. Maybe I'll give this old thing a shot and see if I can't go full blown gay for Soul Asylum.

  11. I saw them play a free show at the Seattle Pike Place Market. Tommy Stinson was on bass. They had fun and played to a bunch of confused kids and moms. But I knew.

  12. For a while during the mid 80's (that period post "Candy Apple Grey" and "Tim"), not only was Soul Asylum the best band out of Minny, they were the best band in the world. They had a 4 record (5, if you count the cassette only "Time's Incinerator")span of awesomeness... from Made To Be Broken thru Hangtime.

    Their shows were absolutely epic.

    I can't blame Pirner for turning the band into Tom Petty jr; after all, look what Westerberg did to the Mats. At least he got to nail Winona Ryder for a whilte and get a hit record.

  13. Anon
    Maybe 'punny' wasn't the word I was looking for (though the word 'soul' in titles is often a pun and 'sole asylum' makes as much sese to em as 'soul asylum'.

    Anon II
    "Go full-blown gay for Soul Asylum' !

    Yup, yup and yup. It's still easy to explain The Replacements and Husker Du's importance but people will bank you on Soul Asylum.

  14. "But I knew."

    Fuckin' nicely put! Thanks.


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