Playlist: The Replacements

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Every Friday, we’ll hook you up with a playlist of tracks we’re listening to in the office and into the weekend.

Do you remember the first song you heard by The Replacements? How could you forget, ehh? The beauty of any masterpiece is that it’s frozen in time, however briefly, for all to admire. Would you consider a band like The Replacements a masterpiece? In their own remarkably unique way, and on a given night, the answer might be… yes, of course. 

Known to diehard fans as “The ‘Mats,” the group’s famed run began in a Minneapolis basement with a kid bassist and a gang of misfit high school dropouts. To say the rest is history would be an understatement. After all, how many bands can put out a record called Let It Be and go toe-to-toe with the original? There’s just one, in our book. 

It’s been said that at their best, they were one of the finest rock bands you could hope to hear. And on an off night? You could politely call it a train wreck, but the beauty of a masterpiece is all in how you interpret it, right? The Replacements were briefly punk icons and eventually, patron saints of achingly touching rock songs courtesy of lead singer Paul Westerberg. 

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They’re a category unto themselves, leaving a squall of feedback from the Midwest to CBGB’s and back, several times over. If you were there, you know. If you weren’t there, you’ve probably found yourself wishing you were. 

Through fast, loud records like the band’s 1981 debut Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash to iconic late ’80s power pop & rock statements (the Memphis-infused, wildly fun Pleased To Meet Me) and thunderous mid-’80s rockers (see: 1985’s Tim), no band did it quite like them. 

The ‘Mats played by their own rules, and that meant plenty of Grain Belt beer, an infamous Saturday Night Live showing and music videos that didn’t even show the band (a contract loophole). All the while, they stuck together just long enough to influence a generation musically. 

“The Replacements were briefly punk icons and eventually, patron saints of achingly touching rock songs courtesy of lead singer Paul Westerberg.” 

The legend lives on to this day thanks to Green Day, The Hold Steady and even The National (Just check out this lyric: “If you want to see me cry/play Let It Be or Nevermind“). Inspired by “left of the dial” icons like Alex Chilton (immortalized in a 1987 namesake song by The ‘Mats), Westerberg and co. plugged in, put pen to paper and came up with some of the most instantly memorable rock songs of any decade. 

No matter which anthem or ballad or punk rock cruiser you favor, there’s no denying you know right away who you’re listening to: The ‘Mats, then and now and always. 

Whether you favor the beautifully deep, introspective ballad “You’re Getting Married,” (sung by a yearning Westerberg, accompanied only by a guitar) or the triumphant, legendary “Can’t Hardly Wait,” the list goes on. 

Speaking of lists: Here’s as fine an introduction to the Minneapolis rock band as any. Crack open a cold beer, hit shuffle, go left of the dial and imagine yourself at Maxwell’s in Hoboken on a cold night. You already know who’s on stage.

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