I bought my first Replacements album, their last, on December 27, 1990 at 8:47 pm. An obsession was born.
While I had lots of friends in college, none understood me like The Replacements did. It seemed as if they had a song for whatever mood I was in. They were losers, like me, who wore their heart on their sleeve. However, they weren’t emo. They were a rock band. A great rock band with an underage bass player named Tommy Stinson, his older, haunted by demons brother Bob on guitar, an artist named Chris Mars who happened to play drums, and a rebel with a soul writing the songs. The music drew me in but Paul Westerberg‘s lyrics kept me there.
For the next decade, I listened to at least one song once a day.
The one thing The Replacements didn’t have was a major following. They were successful, but not R.E.M. successful. They launched a thousand careers. Nevermind also just happens to be one of The Replacements best songs. According to a Rolling Stone article I once read, The Goo Goo Dolls’s Johnny Reznik once gave Avril Levine the entire Replacements catalog because she wanted to be just like him, and this was his way of telling her how to be . Craig Finn of the Hold Steady has always cited them as an influence. Jeff Tweedy, during a live performance that made it’s way through many file sharing sites, once said everything Wilco did was based on The Replacements. However, I never really had friends that listened to them. They truly were my band.
Gorman Bechard has made a movie about The Replacements. Actually, he made a movie about those of us who listen to The Replacements. And, he did it without using one Replacements song.
The movie is an oral history. No clips from live shows. No videos – not even “Bastards of Young” which only shows a speaker. Just friends of the band in the real sense of the word, and friends of the band in my sense of the word. The director’s intention was that if the film was any good people would go out and seek The Replacements.
Many stories were told of The Replacements’ antics. The Replacements could probably drink any band in history under the table. Often they would play drunken sloppy shows that became part of their legend. Also, they could just play great shows that left people amazed. There were tales of how certain songs were written. Their were stories of how they signed to a major label and there are stories of the inevitable fall all told by people who knew the band. The best stories, however, were of people like me, just fans, who The Replacements became something more than a band. The star of the show, a thirtysomething, talked about how he would talk to an imaginary Tommy sometimes just because, you know, Tommy would understand. It didn’t come off crazy.
Not to me anyway.
This is what made The Replacements great. It’s what makes any band great. That feeling that you are part of something special. The fact that this band could make so many people who had trouble connecting at times connected without ever meeting each other was what made them great.
Until now. Until Color Me Obsessed.
*Color Me Obsessed will be in Baton Rouge on March 9 at the Manship Theatre.