I was a pretty big Replacements fan in the '90s. There are a lot of people who now claim to have liked them back then, but if that were true, why were they playing the tiny little 9:30 Club in DC? Nah, there weren't all that many fans back in the day.
I've got 5 'Mats CDs in my CD collection. What's a CD collection? Exactly. I was into this band back when dinosaurs walked the Earth. But I saw them at the 9:30 Club and … it was one of the worst performances ever witnessed by your loveable blogger. They were beyond drunk, playing songs for a minute and then stopping, yelling at each other and the crowd, and all at the most extreme volume. It could have been great. But it wasn't. Far from it. It was everything I dislike about rockers not understanding that they are also performers and that people took their valuable time and treasure to see them perform, not show us how drunk they could get.
But that was decades ago, and I thought, well, let bygones be bygones. I was still interested enough in the band to read Trouble Boys, the biographical book by Paul Mehr. It is a well written book with the tale of the band from their childhoods through the present day. I was stoked to begin to read it because I wanted to know more and to rekindle my relationship with the band.
Unfortunately, I came away a bit disgusted with these guys, particularly Paul Westerberg. This band had massive talent and could have driven rock to another level. Instead, they did everything possible to prevent themselves from being successful, drank themselves to oblivion, treated those close to them horribly, and crashed and burned into a minor footnote in the rock story. How can a group of guys that love NRBQ and Alex Chilton/Big Star end up being such obnoxious jerks? Hard to explain, but Mehr does it in about 400 pages of cringe-worthy detail. He gives details like how Westerberg and Tommy Stinson would sometimes set their tour advance money on fire and the like. Really?
Westerberg comes across particularly bad. Yes, he's a great songwriter. But he seems like a crappy guy - firing people right and left, sabotaging career success whenever possible, drunk and disorderly, terrible to those close to him (or those that just wanted to be close to him), and unapologetic about all of it. Tommy Stinson is no saint, but at least he appeared to want to succeed - plus, he was a great musician. Bob Stinson is a sad dude who led a terrible life through no fault of his own, but was deeply disturbed. Only Chris Mars seems to be a decent guy, someone you might like to hang out with for a bit.
The result is that after reading the book, I kind of lost some of my old flame for this band. It's too bad, because they truly were a seminal alternative band who turned out some truly memorable tunes that influenced the next generation of rockers. But they faded fast, almost forgotten now, and ended up in a biography that made me kind of dislike them.
Oh well, such is the rock 'n' roll life. People are people and just because they catch magic together in a band doesn't mean that they aren't still just people at bottom, and when given a modicum of fame and fortune, they can develop into horrible people. I've never understood those that want to chum up with celebrities just because they're famous. They might be a genius at one aspect of life, but suck at the rest.
And with that, I'm moving on to other subjects. RIP Bob Stinson. It was your band back in the day. Why couldn't they give it their all like, say, Iggy?
My name is Bill, and I live in the greater Philadelphia area. I love music, and I have a lot of opinions. This site is primarily focused on music, but sometimes I get off track. I hope you enjoy.