Sunday, August 2, 2009

I Will Dare

After two days of reading I am now on page 95 of Jim Walsh's The Replacements: All Over But the Shouting, An Oral History. At first I didn't like the book mainly because of the style in which it is written. It literally is an "oral" history in that every paragraph is a quote from someone associated in some way with The Replacements, be it a fan, a musician, a fellow writer, or even a relative. Walsh did tons of research finding hundreds of old interviews from various magazine and newspaper articles that quote Paul Westerberg and others from that era. Plus dozens of personal interviews conducted in 2006 and 2007. Unfortunately Westerberg and bassist Tommy Stinson did not participate in Walsh's research. The writing style, or lack thereof, makes the book sort of hard to read, and I can understand the critiques on Amazon which say that Walsh was "lazy" in compiling this book. However, to me it is still very engaging.

I'm now through the part of the book that covers the release of their first album, Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash(1981) and their followup EP Stink(1982). Like Walsh, I've decided to take the so-called lazy approach and instead of trying to blog about the legacy that is The Replacements, I am just going to post quotes from the book which I really like, and add some music to go along with it. You should read the book and learn about The Replacements on your own.

Each chapter starts with the lyrics of a song about The Replacements from a different artist. I am surprised and amused by how many artists wrote songs about The Replacements, but I will write more about that later. The introduction quotes the lyrics to the Tommy Womack song below, which I completely forgot that I had in my collection. The below quote is from Joe Henry, now an accomplished musician and producer himself. Henry's new album Blood From the Stars comes out on August 18.
The first time I heard the Replacements? It was a spring day in 1984 in Ann Abror, Michigan. I'd just gotten home from the medical library where I was being paid to waste my time, and I pulled a new record called Let It Be out of its sleeve and set it spinning. Even before the vocals came in on "I Will Dare," I was sold. It swung; and the Replacements sounded funny and pissy and arrogant and mopey all at once. I had felt for a long time like a forgotten soldier, but on an afternoon that was unseasonably warm after a hard Midwestern winter, they sounded to me like the goddamn cavalry coming through. (p. 39)
I Will Dare.mp3
Buy: Let It Be (1984, reissued 2008)

Tommy Womack
- The Replacements.mp3
Buy: Circus Town (2002)


LD said...

I like the structure of the book. I think it does a good job of incorporating the old interviews and such with the reminiscences of the Mats insiders, which are way more informative than gossipy. You can feel the band move from a fairly insulated scene to become this corporate entity. Having testimonials from family and friends also helps to flesh out the personal dynamics at play. AND there's plenty of music talk. Good stuff.

Peter said...

While working at Tower Records, I pulled a copy of Tommy Womack's Circus Town from the pile of promo CDs no one on staff wanted. Mostly because I thought there might have been a connection to Bobby Womack. When I flipped the case over, my eyes hit upon "The Replacements" straight away.

"That couldn't be a song about the band, could it?"

I dropped the disc into my back room CD player, and of course the song in an epic shuffle of a Mats tribute. A wobbling stomp of disbelief and joy, fact and myth.

"All Over But the Shouting" is fascinating at times, but Womack's story song still hits harder. And the fact that the rest of Circus Town plays strong but is otherwise unknown seems sadly appropriate.