Song Review by Stewart Mason
Soul Asylum’s version of the acoustic ballads that Paul Westerberg used to break up the sloppy punk roar of the Replacements’ early albums, “Never Really Been” is the first indication of the lower-voltage direction that the group would take to its brief period of superstardom. (Ironically, one of the key couplets is “Where will you be in 1993?/Still sitting in the same chair,” unknowingly foreshadowing the year of Soul Asylum’s highest public profile.) Dave Pirner’s lyrics are fairly standard-issue post-adolescent soul-searching, although he does get off a couple of great snarkily self-deprecating lines like “You were thinkin’ I was distressed about some universe oppressed/But I was just depressed about my last pinball game.” The song is similarly good but not great; the comparisons to Westerberg’s acoustic songs are just too obvious to overcome entirely, but although the song is clearly in that style, it manages to stand on its own merits. “Never Really Been” would remain a key part of the Soul Asylum live set for years.