I bought my first Replacements album on December 27, 1990. You can read more about that story here. It’s hard for me to express what the band truly means to me. Each album, which I discovered in reverse order, spoke to me as a best friend would. They made me not feel alone in my loneliness (“Aching to Be,” “I Only You Was Lonely,” and “Sixteen Blue”), encouraged me to go out on limbs (“I Will Dare” and, strangely, “Unsatisfied”), reminded me of my earliest music memories (“Black Diamond”) , taught me about music undiscovered (“Alex Chilton”), and how to just let go and have fun (“Customer” and “I.O.U”). The music of The Replacements never let me down (well, with the exception of “I Won’t”). There was a period for nearly half a decade that I listened to them every single day. I never traveled far without them. However, they broke up when I was just getting to know them, but the great thing about music is that bands that break up always get back together when you play their music.
Of course, I became a Paul Westerberg fan when he embarked on his solo career. I saw him twice when he came to New Orleans. After the second show, I stayed after and met him. My wife framed the picture (above) and shirt I had him sign. We have been moving things around so it’s down now, but it has a place of honor when our house is normal.
When The Replacements (actually only Paul and Tommy, but that’s enough) got back together for their reunion shows, I couldn’t make it. Then they released a few more dates. We could not make those either. I held out hope that they would be announced at Voodoo or Jazz Fest, but my hopes didn’t come to fruition.
Then came a tour announcement for this year from their Facebook account. I look and there is no dates in the South. I look for weekend dates that would have cheap flights, but don’t see much in the offering.
Then I remembered I married really well. We were discussing the other night how not only our interests align, but that they also push us in directions that we don’t always expect. Well, it happened again.
Cristina and her best friend, Michael, are huge Star Wars collectors, especially of autographs. Every so often, there is an event called Star Wars Celebration, which a huge Comic Con but only devoted to Star Wars. We went to the last one in Orlando together, and she’s been to two more besides that. We even got to see George Lucas at one of the panels last year. Well, when the next one was announced to be in Anaheim this April, Michael already knew he was going and quickly booked a room. Cristina and I took forever in deciding about going, especially in light of my recent health troubles. We finally decided to do it, especially since we would be splitting hotel costs and flights were relatively cheap.
So we are headed to the Los Angeles area. I looked at the list of tour dates. I see Los Angeles. I look at the date. It hits me that we might be there. I pray that is not the date we land, because we are arriving at night. I tell Cristina to check. We arrive in Anaheim the night before the concert. The force was with us.
Now that I knew that seeing them was a real possibility, I get even more nervous. Will some Hollywood types snatch all the seats? I was already blaming Winona Ryder in my head. Why am I becoming paranoid, especially if I’ve already seen Paul perform and this will only be adding Tommy to the mix?
It’s because the name, The Replacements, means something to me. The Replacements stand for something important in my life. They were my perfect friend, the one who always understood me and never judged me. Paul’s words and music could articulate feelings I couldn’t. Seeing Paul and Tommy perform under the name The Replacements makes it feel like I am finally meeting a long time friend who went away right after we met, but who always stayed in touch.
The Hollywood Palladium released their code word for the presale right at noon as the presale is commencing. In another stroke of luck (which I’m now referring to as The Force), we have a half day today and the students are dismissed at 11:55. Cristina and I work together, so I rushed to her room to buy the tickets. The presale code is announced and we are granted access. We finally get to the screen where we actually buy the tickets. This is where time stood still.
I nearly ask Cristina to hold my hand, but instead I just held my breath until I turned blue.
Finally, the screen says CRISTINA, YOU ARE GOING SEE THE REPLACEMENTS! I don’t care that the account is in her name, I’m going see The Replacements too! I finally take a breath. Today is a good day.
Now, how to get from Anaheim to Hollywood…