I will start this newsletter with a small anecdote that brought me to choosing this album. I was in my pal Max’s backyard a while back with my boyfriend. They were talking about The Replacements. I said “I’ve never listened to The Replacements” and then Max grabbed his phone and said, “this is what The Replacements sound like” so then their music played in the format god intended, out loud off an iphone speaker. When we were going home my boyfriend said, “you should do Let it Be by The Replacements for your newsletter” so I said “yeah that sounds like a good idea” and now many weeks later I’m doing that.
I guess that’s kind of a crap story. It was one of the few real social interactions I’ve had since I moved to Philadelphia, though, so in my brain it’s exaggeratedly positive. Also that day I lent that same person a copy of a Cometbus book I wrote this other newsletter about. That’s not really relevant except that I like that newsletter and I’d like people to read it. Sue me.
Anyway, onto The Replacements. I will now list everything I know about this band.
- From Minneapolis
- Singer is named Paul
- An inspiration to not-quite-fully-punk bands everywhere
- People call them “The Mats” and I think it’s stupid but is allegedly due to a misunderstanding of their name being “The Placemats” which is the only time I can think of a band being called by an abbreviation of a cover band version of a band’s name. Also reminds me of when a friend of mine thought The Weakerthans were called The Weathercans.
This record begins with a song I really do not enjoy.
I Will Dare
This song, to me, is not listenable earnestly. It feels the same as if I ever try to listen to like.. The Sex Pistols. It’s dated. I don’t know if it’s the last 5 years of blunt force nostalgia for the 80s in television and movies that has made it impossible for me to enjoy this and so much 80s music but I do not vibe with it. The jangle simply does not do it for me.
I realize this is a favorite, after all it has its own wikipedia page that says it is possibly one of the band’s most beloved songs. Yell at me if you want. They dared to flop and flop they did (on this track in my own personal opinion).
That’s a drastic opinion. It’s not that bad. I just don’t want to listen to it.
I like this one better. I like the bass a lot throughout this album, really, and it’s good on this one. Very listenable, this track. On no track is the Replacements’ influence on Martha more obvious than this one which is good for me. Martha is one of my very favorite bands and one obviously influenced greatly by The Replacements. All over this album I can hear and connect that influence which makes me like this album more even on songs I don’t love.
We're Comin' Out
I truly cannot get a read on how I feel about this song and it’s fully because of the slow part in the middle. I know they’re not snapping but it sure does sound like it and wow do I not like it. It just feels corny. But I like the rest of the song. It’s fun and loud and punky and I like that.
Tommy Gets His Tonsils Out
Sucks for Tommy.
This is the first song on the album that I really did enjoy. I like the piano and I like Paul Westerberg’s voice a lot for the first time. It doesn’t surprise me at all to learn there’s been a lot of covers of the song and all the ones I’ve listened to have been great because this is a great song. Here’s a lovely lo-fi one by Fog Lake that was put up recently. Maybe the best simple song.
This is a Kiss cover.
This is the song where, while listening to it, I was like, “oh okay yeah every band I like rips this band off” and I think it’s enjoyable. I, too, am dissatisfied.
Seen Your Video
Allegedly, when initially exposed to this song by my aforementioned Replacements fan partner, I said I, “hate this so much” which does sound like something I’d say. However, we learn and we grow and we change our tastes. Or we become at least less hard-headed.
Anyway, I like this song a whole lot. I’ve developed some patience for a long intro. I enjoy Paul’s voice on this one most out of all the songs probably.
Gary's Got a Boner
Embarrassing for Gary. This track begs the question….. how many songs do you think have “soft-on” in the lyrics? Anybody with other examples feel free to hit me up.
This is probably one of 3 songs I could name prior to listening to this album. Sixteen Blue is mentioned in one of my very favorite songs, Favorite Song by 2nd Grade.
up in my room
i had all June
my favorite song was sixteen blue
The other two songs are “Alex Chilton”, a song that gets played frequently out loud in my apartment. And “Can’t Hardly Wait” because Martha covered it for a demos and covers release they did last year.
I’ve been listening to a lot of The Menzinger’s most recent album recently and this song reminds me quite a lot of some of the slower tracks on that album, too. I recognize that to a lot of people it comes off as annoying to be like “oh this classic album reminds me of these newer songs by bands that are obviously influenced by the classic album” but that’s where I’m coming at this music from so I don’t wanna hear about it.
I don’t necessarily subscribe to the idea that you need to listen to or especially like the music your favorite bands are influenced by.
I love that this song ends with an operator message. I like a song with a voicemail in it. You just can’t do that more than once. This is done in a cool distorted way, too. I like this song.
Whenever I do these things I try to sort of really get why it’s something people love and really view in super high esteem. Of course I like making my little jokes, but I really do want to understand what connects with people so heavily. I don’t always read a lot about the albums or artists to write, but this time I feel like I had to because I don’t especially really enjoy the album. It’s okay and there are tracks I really enjoy, but surely there has to be more.
My dad, who was 20 and living in Minneapolis when this album was released, said that a couple songs got decent airplay, but he had Tim on cassette and that’s the one he prefers. (He also asks, “who is Tim?” anybody know? I’ll pass it along.) But like everybody else, my father told me this band is the direct precursor to a lot of stuff I like. I know, Dad.
Consequence of Sound did a sort of retrospective on the 30th anniversary where they asked a bunch of people about how they feel about the album and it at least fleshed out the way people like this album— and the band in general. While I think the gender and sexuality messaging on the record is complex and interesting for a record like this, some albums develop a legacy as feelings albums. People love this record because of its positioning as a gateway to a new experience with music.
Matt Melis said in that piece, “You almost need to know someone – older brother, cousin, dorm mate – who quite literally shoves that first ‘Mats record into your hands, or else you probably go to your grave oblivious to Paul Westerberg, Let It Be, and all the rest.”
It’s a coming of age album and, like most coming of age media, if it finds you in a moment of heartbreak or transition or starting to drink for the first time then it can be life changing. Things like that are special because of their positioning just as much as any real sonic value or messaging. Unfortunately for me, this is not that moment so to me it just sounds like 80s rock music.
While it may be true that at one point it was music that had to be shown to you, I would say that you could also just come across any indie rock bordering on punk band now and the universe will be sure to yell at you to listen to The Replacements. And by the universe I mean people between the ages of 28 and 38.
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Miranda Reinert is a music adjacent writer, zine maker, and law student based in Philadelphia. Follow me on Twitter for more on music and other things like when there’s new episodes of the Endless Scroll Podcast: @mirandareinert. I also have a paid tier of this newsletter which for $5 a month (or $40 a year! what a deal!) you’ll get free zines as I make them and one upon sign up! Wow! Click the button below to get in on that! But as always, thanks for reading!