It’s definitely no secret that I’m obsessed with The Replacements. I post about them all the time here and I talk about them constantly to my friends. I don’t go a week without having a serious, in-depth conversation about them. I wasn’t old enough to truly experience them in their heyday, but to me, they really were the greatest rock and roll band of all time.
What really got me into them to start was reading Our Band Could Be Your Life–for anyone that is into indie music at all, it’s a must read. But I warn you, reading it makes you want to listen to everything by every one of the bands all at the same time. You can’t decide at all what you want to listen to, but you just want it all. You don’t want to wait for one record to end to move on to the next, but you don’t want to skip a single song either. I love many of the bands in that book, but the ‘Mats are the band that really stuck with me more than any other. Just something about them and their story grabbed me and won’t let go.
So I’m actually a little surprised at myself for taking so long to finish reading The Replacements – All Over But The Shouting: An Oral History. I think I bought it the week that it came out, but I didn’t get to start reading it until last November. Since then, I’ve picked it up here and there and read a few pages at a time whenever I had the time. It’s the kind of book that you can do that with and not lose anything.
Just like Our Band Could Be Your Life, All Over But The Shouting makes you want to listen to everything by The Replacements all at the same time. When I first started reading this book, it got me started on a three month kick of literally listening to nothing but The Replacements.
The book is laid out as a series of quotes by members of the band, friends, family, and anyone that was in some way around the band or involved. As the title flat out says, it’s an oral history. If you’ve ever read anything about the band before, you already know the story, but the extra details and firsthand accounts actually make you feel close to the band. Even as someone that was born ten to fifteen years too late to ever really get to experience The ‘Mats, I still feel connected to the band. Maybe it’s just the effect of these stories about or maybe it’s caused by the true greatness of the band, possibly the “only American band that ever really mattered.” Either way, I don’t think it matters.
It may be a well known fact that The Replacements pretty much did everything they could to fail and while they never really went on to become huge like they could have been, I don’t think it’s possible to really consider them anything close to a failure. It’s funny how you can fall in love with a band based in part on how much of a bunch of assholes they were. Here is a band that graffitied and ruined the final version of the artwork for one of their own albums, a band that played shows with the goal to alienate as many people as the could, to clear the room faster than they did the night before, a band would be the most amazing thing you’ve ever witnessed one night and literally the worst thing you’ve ever witnessed the next, a band that sometimes refused to play their own songs, a band that played shows in which they never finished a single song. And somehow, all of these things just add to what the band really was and how much you love them.
If nothing else, All Over But The Shouting makes me wish to have grown up a teenager/twenty-something bastard in the 80s in Minneapolis. I wish that I could have witnessed all of this myself–seeing Bob Stinson playing in a tutu or members of the band brawling mid-set or seeing the band get themselves banned from SNL. I wish I could have been in Denver in 1989 to see Westerberg, hands down the biggest dick of the band, instruct the audience at a show to boo when giving a signal so that when the show was broadcast nationally over the radio, it would sound like the crowd hated them.
So really, thank you, Jim Walsh. Thank you for putting this book together. Thank you for making me fall so in love with this band that my sole reason for longing for the ability to travel through time to the past is just so that I can witness the spectacle that was The Replacements with my own two eyes. Thank you for making me feel so connected to the band that I literally teared up when reading through the end of the book about Bob Stinson’s death.
There are so many great stories and quotes in this book, honestly, they’re all great, but there is one that was specifically about Bob Stinson by writer Charles Aaron, “nobody could fuck up a guitar solo more beatifically than Bob Stinson.” I feel like this quote really applies to the whole band and sums it all up. No other band could ever fuck up the way the Replacements did and make you absolutely adore them for it. Imperfections and all, The Replacements will always be the world’s greatest rock and roll band to me. Always.