20 October 2006

I'm in Love ...

It’s probably the last warm day of the year, in the low seventies. Driving home at dusk, sunroof open. A hint of rain sprinkles the top of my head. The Replacements’ “Alex Chilton” comes on. (I’m lucky; our dueling alt stations play The ‘Mats regularly.) Who can sit still during “Alex Chilton”? A favorite band singing about a favored singer? Doesn't get any better.

Children by the million sing for Alex Chilton when he comes 'round
They sing "I'm in love. What's that song?
I'm in love with that song."


That perfect, pure joy of driving while a favorite song plays. Singing to the top of the lungs, dancing as much as the seatbelt will allow. And enjoying Paul Westerberg’s use of words. Is there a lyricist from the 1980s better than Mr. Westerberg? I think not. (Sorry, Mr. Stipe; he beats you nearly every time.)

Cerebral rape and pillage in a village of his choice.
Invisible man who can sing in a visible voice.


I never understood why The Replacements didn’t get the airplay or attention that R.E.M. did. Great balls-to-the-wall rock. Not out there like Sonic Youth, but accessible and out of control and fun, with beautiful ballads thrown in to sweeten the album. You rarely meet someone who’s so-so about the ‘Mats; if you’ve heard ‘em, you love ‘em. They were rawer, wilder … but don’t we love that in our rock bands? A sage musicologist by the name of The Haahnster said it best: In the 1980s, R.E.M. were The Beatles and The Replacements were The Rolling Stones.

I never travel far without a little Big Star.

And I hope that you, beloved readers, are also familiar with Big Star. No? Keep reading this page. Yes? Welcome, dear friend.


Get music codes at Bolt.

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37 Comments:

At 10/20/2006 06:33:00 AM, Blogger Melinda June said...

Amen, sister! Paul Westerberg is positively brilliant. The Replacements were a Minneapolis band, so we got more of them. More live shows, more airplay, just more. Talk about seriously fun.

Another MSP band I loved that I thought were underated were Husker Du.

 
At 10/20/2006 06:39:00 AM, Blogger Beth said...

One of my biggest regrets is I never saw The Replacements live. Wouldn't you love to sit and chat with Paul Westerberg to see if he talks like he writes? And smoke a ciggie; I'd love to smoke and drink with him. Yes, I have lofty goals.

And I love Hüsker Dü; I love everything Bob Mould does.

 
At 10/20/2006 06:50:00 AM, Blogger Writeprocrastinator said...

I didn't know that the name of that song was "Alex Chilton," I always thought it was "What's That Song."

In S.F, Live 105 played it to death for about eight months when it came out, then never again.

 
At 10/20/2006 07:04:00 AM, Blogger Beth said...

"Alex Chilton" gets the most play here in the ATL, with some "Can't Hardly Wait" and "I'll Be You" thrown in. Too bad they don't mix it up -- a little "Kiss Me on the Bus," "I Will Dare" (my personal fave), "Sadly Beautiful" ...

 
At 10/20/2006 08:24:00 AM, Blogger Dale said...

I love the song Alex Chilton. I saw the Replacements many moons ago here and they were a little drunken and crazy but put on a good show.

Loved your mood setting and musing. You and Haahnster are onto something there.

 
At 10/20/2006 08:42:00 AM, Anonymous DJ Cayenne said...

One of the highligts of my college radio career was getting to interview the 'Mats at our station, followed up with playing pool after the show with a few beers. I got to tell Westerberg that "Unsatisfied" may be the greatest song ever written. He said that he liked it, too. Thanks for bringing the memories back. The album with "Alex Chilton" was also the best named 'Mats album ever.

Also: boobies.

 
At 10/20/2006 08:55:00 AM, Blogger Ben Heller said...

I've only got the album "Let It Be" so I can't comment on the rest of their career."Let It Be" is in parts a great album but I just felt there was a couple of fillers.

That was a damn good song you posted. What album is that off Beth ?

I've heard that their live shows could go either way. They could be fantastic one night and drunken bums the next.

 
At 10/20/2006 09:52:00 AM, Anonymous DJ Cayenne said...

I forgot my cardinal rule. Never comment until after caffeine. The album with "Kiss Me On the Bus" is the best named album of all time.

Alex Chilton is on "Pleased to Meet Me".

 
At 10/20/2006 09:56:00 AM, Blogger Beth said...

DALE: So jealous that you caught them live. I hope you got up and danced around your desk while you listened. I am.

DJ CAYENNE: Damn, you beat me on rattling off the album title. Well, you deserve it, after turning me green with your 'Mats moment. I hope you got lots of ladies swooning when you told that story. I would have.

BEN: I love Let It Be; it has my favorite Replacements song, and a little story to go with it. I'll probably feature it in the next couple of Fridays. I have some of their live stuff -- and it's hit or miss. Are you a Big Star fan?

 
At 10/20/2006 10:00:00 AM, Blogger Beth said...

DJ: Tim. Always makes me think of the Mel Gibson not-full-quid movie.

 
At 10/20/2006 10:47:00 AM, Blogger Peter said...

Paul Westerberg is an exceptional lyricist. Great call there. Clarity, humor, and a great rhymster.

REM, besides just being generally awesome, was and is such an anomally. Stipe, whether by choice or not, just has a ton of charisma. Westerberg's more of a meat and potatoes crafstman. He's like a literary John Fogerty with a touch of the experimental. But that sort of "everyman" market was so cornered by Springsteen at the time.

That's my two cents. ;)

 
At 10/20/2006 11:01:00 AM, Blogger barista brat said...

haha, beth you're going to make my cd collection grow!

i remember this song from when i was little but i didnt' know it was the replacements.

thanks for posting this, i had so much fun listening to "alex chilton" (but of course now i have to run out and find some of his stuff as well)

 
At 10/20/2006 12:16:00 PM, Anonymous DJ Cayenne said...

I think that REM's success (vs. the 'Mats) at the time was based at least partially on their being way more reliable. REM could be counted upon to show up and be coherent. At the height of their powers, part of the legend of the'Mats was the general amazement that they were able to get anything on vinyl at all much less a cohesive album. Their recording sessions were described in terms of booze consumed and number of band members who had thrown up. And little Tommy Stinson was still a teenager.

 
At 10/20/2006 03:30:00 PM, Anonymous m said...

when i was young and cute, and he was alive, bob stinson bought me a beer and was (i think) trying to pick me up. or maybe he was just trying to stand up...he was pretty wasted.

i heart the replacements so much. i feel so lucky i was able to see them live a few times. that rem/replacements/beatles/rolling stones comparisons is very brilliant! i am going to steal that...

if you look at the vinyl copy of 'please to meet me' stenciled in it are the words 'sorry portland'supposively because they played one of the worse shows ever there. there are also the words "long live yff!" (long live the young fresh fellows!)

 
At 10/20/2006 04:02:00 PM, Blogger kfluff said...

yay Beth! I've been trying to figure out a good starting place with the Replacements--I stalled out recently after downloading (legally, of course) "Within Your Reach" and playing it to death. I'm off to hunt and gather more songs...

 
At 10/20/2006 05:18:00 PM, Blogger haahnster said...

"A sage musicologist by the name of The Haahnster said it best: In the 1980s, R.E.M. were The Beatles and The Replacements were The Rolling Stones."

Wow! "Sage musicologist," I'll have to have that added to my business cards. Glad you liked the analogy.

Also, I don't disagree with any of the comments regarding Westerberg's brilliance. However, I'm a bit put off by his recent statements that basically piss all over Stinson's contributions to the sound of the 'Mats.

 
At 10/20/2006 05:20:00 PM, Blogger haahnster said...

Oh, I should clarify...that's the late Bob Stinson. Apparently Westerberg is now revising history to indicate that he never really liked Bob's guitar playing.

Hmmmm...

 
At 10/20/2006 05:29:00 PM, Blogger lulu said...

Beth--I am a HUGE Replacements fan. Caught them tons of times in MPLS when I was younger and was at their break-up show in Chicago.

When tenS and I did the original 40 at 40 birthday CD Alex Chilton was one of my songs. It was hard to choose, but I love Big Star to, so I feel like Alex Chilton was sort of it 2fer.

TenS and I saw Paul do a solo show about 2 years ago. He smashed a television and stumbled around a lot. Good times.

 
At 10/20/2006 06:48:00 PM, Blogger Melinda June said...

I, too, have seen many a drunken Replacements show (both them and me, frankly,) and I find the drunken buffoonery to be part of the fun. I love few things more than brilliant people who are blatantly a big damn mess.

I'd I will also concur that the Stones/Beatles analogy is very wise, indeed.

 
At 10/20/2006 07:41:00 PM, Blogger schmeckman said...

the replacements came along during my musical dark ages, when i wasted about five years in libraries sneezing up dust mites over old books. it's time to go back and learn the right stuff. a weekend project!

 
At 10/20/2006 09:29:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

PETER: You know I love my Stipe. He uses lyrics differently, and he's written some of the most beautiful lines I've ever listened to.

BRAT: You made me cry with "i remember this song from when i was little." I feel so old ...

M: Still cute woman, did you know that Paul Westerberg was a big fan of the Young Fresh Fellows? He used to talk them up all the time. Smart man.

KFLUFF: I can send you a good starter list; e-mail me.

 
At 10/20/2006 09:30:00 PM, Blogger Johnny Yen said...

I think that it had to do with the fact that REM didn't show up completely shitfaced for 50% of their shows. Of course, for us fans, that was a big part of their charm.

I think a defining moment of my life was when I was 23, walking into a college party, drunk off my ass and fucked up over an old girlfriend: the Replacements' "Unsatisfied" was playing as I walked in. Perfect soundtrack to my life at that moment.

Managed to see them twice-- Metro (Chicago) in 1986 with my friend Tim, and was at their last show, July 4, 1991 at Grant Park. Out of the crowd of 10s of thousands, I managed to run into my late friend Mark and Tim. They were both tripping their brains out. It was one of my favorite afternoons.

 
At 10/20/2006 09:31:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

DJ CAYENNE:
You nailed it, friend. As I heard it, Peter Buck went to Minneapolis in 1983 or 1984 to produce Let It Be, but the boys were so wasted that they only got one song done -- "I Will Dare" -- my all-time fave 'Mats tune, BTW, as it was Peter's involvement that introduced me to The Replacements. I love his guitar work on "I Will Dare."

 
At 10/20/2006 09:33:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

HAAHNSTER: Then he's a butt. How can you not love the late Bob Stinson's guitar playing? And let me know if you want me to design your musicologist biz card; be sure to list me as a reference.

 
At 10/20/2006 09:38:00 PM, Blogger Johnny Yen said...

It was probably because REM didn't show up shitfaced to about 50% of their shows. Of course, to those of us who loved the Replacements, that was part of their charm.

I loved both bands. Their songs and sound defined my youth just as the Clash and the Ramones did. For me it's not an either/or. Love 'em both.

A defining moment in my life: walking into a party in college-- I was 23, comletely loaded and fucked up over an old girlfriend. As I walked into the party, "Unsatisfied" was playing-- "Look me in the eyes and tell me I'm satisfied-- I'm so UNSATISFIED... Paul caught me moment perfectly.

I managed to see them twice. Once, with my friend Tim in 1986 at the Caberet Metro and at their last show on July 4, 1991 in Grant Park. In the crowd of tens of thousands, I managed to run into Tim and my late friend Mark who were tripping their motherfuckin' brains out. It was one of my favorite afternoons.

 
At 10/20/2006 09:39:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

LULU: I've been waiting for your comment all day. I know you're a big Mats fan - yet another thing we groovy gals have in common (love for R.E.M., unabashedly displaying our breasts on blogs, just to name two). I should have known you'd love Big Star, too. You have my ultimate music respect ... and I'm so jealous that you saw the Mats so many times. One day we'll have to compare concert highlights.

MELINDA JUNE: "I love few things more than brilliant people who are blatantly a big damn mess." We would so get along. And isn't The Haahnster wise?

SCHMECKMAN: Huh. Never would have guessed you for a nerd. Shall I write up a must-Mats list for you?

JOHNNY YEN: Gawd, "Unsatisfied." It is perfect for those moments, isn't it? And welcome! I've seen you 'round the blog block; come back.

 
At 10/20/2006 09:42:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

JOHNNY YEN: And I totally agree that R.E.M./Replacements is not an either/or. A true child of the 1980s loves them both. Now I'm off to visit your blog ...

 
At 10/20/2006 10:08:00 PM, Blogger Old Lady said...

I am so behind.

 
At 10/21/2006 05:07:00 AM, Anonymous m said...

beth,

i read somewhere that the young fresh fellows were westerberg's wedding band--so i guess that means he is a fan.

rem's own utility player, and of course, one of the posies, mr ken stringfellow is in big star-with mr alex chilton. i would so love to see that concert. big star is amazing--and perhaps, if we behave, we could get ms. coffey to do a write up??

 
At 10/21/2006 08:11:00 AM, Blogger Ben Heller said...

I like Big Star a lot. I quite often listen to an album I have of theirs called "Third/Sister Lover"

 
At 10/21/2006 08:37:00 AM, Blogger Beth said...

OLD LADY: Do you like the track I included on this post? If so, there's a wonderful greatest hits collection of The Replacements (I think it's called All for Nothing/Nothing for All; definitely worth checking out.

M: Were they really? YFF rocks! I've heard mixed reviews about the new Big Star. I love Alex Chilton, though; his solo work is fun.

BEN: That's an excellent one. You also need #1 Record/Radio City; if you need a copy ... and good luck on the ride this weekend.

 
At 10/21/2006 11:24:00 AM, Blogger Coaster Punchman said...

I love The Replacements, which was a requirement for college age people in MN in the 1980s. But I think that even more than The Replacements, I love the TMBG song "We're The Replacements."

 
At 10/21/2006 01:11:00 PM, Blogger Grant Miller said...

I don't have a calender time line in front of me, but didn't the Replacements implode in 1987-19888, just as REM was hitting bigtime, etc? Had the stuck around a bit longer, probably would have been huger. Is huger a word?

 
At 10/21/2006 01:18:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

COASTER PUNCHMAN: I have to admit, I've grown weary of TMBG. Makes me a little sad.

GRANT MILLER: You're right in that R.E.M. didn't hit the big time until the late 1980s. However, Murmur was voted Album of the Year in 1983 by Rolling Stones' editors. They were college radio darlings at the same time as The Replacements.

 
At 10/21/2006 11:58:00 PM, Blogger lulu said...

I got to meet Alex Chilton about 6-7 years ago when he played a solo show at a little club here called Schuba's. My friend BuBu knew him from back in the day in Memphis, so when we went to the show she climbed right up on the stage and started chatting with him. It was really odd. He's like this minor God and she's just like "Hey Alex, what's up?"

 
At 10/22/2006 08:05:00 PM, Blogger Dan said...

Of course you know how I feel about The Replacements... a band I've been listening to since early high school days. The band I was in covered them a lot, so I really got to know the music well. I will always associate "Let It Be" with fond memories.

Though, Big Star not so much. I've really given them a chance, and the band hasn't grown on me yet. There must be a disconnect somewhere...

 
At 10/24/2006 02:04:00 AM, Blogger Beth said...

LULU: Omigod! I may have to touch your arm when I come to Chicago in January.

DAN: You're so young, son ...

 

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