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.
It is no secret that my favorite band of all time is The Replacements. The Replacements are more than a band to me; their music was there for me whenever I needed them in the way a good friend is. Now, in a very small way, I can return the favor.
Last February, the replacement Replacement guitarist, Slim Dunlap, suffered a serious right brain stroke that landed him in the hospital for nine months. According to the Songs for Slim website, he will probably need around the clock care for the rest of his life.
Quite a few artists have gotten together to create the aforementioned Songs for Slim. Some of these artists include Lucinda Williams, Jakob Dylan, the Jayhawks, Frank Black, Steve Earle and Craig Finn. That is enough to open my pocketbook.
Oh, and the Replacements made an EP.
This is not a full-blown reunion. Chris Mars, the drummer, is a full-blown visual artist now and did not feel comfortable performing with the other two. The other two, Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson, understood. However, Chris Mars did contribute a song to the cd a cover of a slim song called Radio Hook Word Hit.
The other songs are Paul and Tommy with a band covering Slim and some other artists. The EP was first pressed into a very limited 10” vinyl and auctioned off. Unfortunately, I did not know about it at the time and did not get to participate. Fortunately for Slim, I would not have won any of the auctions. In fact, they raised 105,743.42 from the auction.
Busted Up, a Paul and Tommy cover of a Slim song, is just a rock song. Paul, sounding amazing, has fun with the vocals and some of the pronunciations of the words. Chris plays all of the instruments on Radio Hook Word Hit and brings out the pop side of the song. I truly believe after listening to this song and Chris’s solo album that he could have been the Replacements Dave Grohl, for whatever that’s worth, if he would have stuck with music.
The final three songs, by Paul and Tommy and the band, are covers from all over the musical arc. They cover a seventies singer-songwriter song, a classic country song, and a show tune. They come off at first as silly. Then you realize, after a few listens, they are perfect and actually serious. You realize that this is the band that put Gary’s Got a Boner right before Sixteen Blue on the same album. The first song is about, well, you know, but the second song is what every single sixteen year old feels: confusion, angst, desire, scared. The first cover, Gordon Lightfoot’s I’m Not Sayin’, seems light and just Paul and Tommy having fun. Yet, if you have read interviews with Slim in the past years, which Paul had, Slim did not seem to have fun with the Replacements toward the end. In the song, the protagonist is not saying he is sorry to his lover but he is saying he will try. Maybe I am reading too much into this, but this is the closest that Paul can come to an apology. Lost Highway is a country song that the Replacements just rock out. It sounds nothing like country. For me, it is the hidden gem of the album, because it is great to just hear Tommy and Paul go for broke. The final song is Everything’s Coming Up Roses from Gypsy. The song is what is great about the Replacements. It should not work. It should fall apart at any second. Paul should not try to sing it. Yet, it turns out to just be glorious and fun and a great song to include on the record.
Even, if, everything might not turn up roses.
The EP is available in iTunes and a 12″ vinyl should be ready for record store day.
- The (sort of) Return of The Replacements: Songs for Slim (tattoosandguyliner.com)
- The Replacements’ Songs for Slim EP Gets Commercial Release, Auction Begins Tomorrow (pitchfork.com)
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.