The Replacements and memory

The-ReplacementsBY ED FELIEN

This Friday, Sept. 12, at the Parkway Cinema there will be a showing of “Color Me Obsessed,” a documentary about The Replacements—Minneapolis’ official bar band from the ’80s.  Everybody loved The Replacements.  They were drunk all the time, out of their minds on drugs and ready to kick out the jams.  The showing of the film is part of a benefit for Slim Dunlap, the guitar player, who is recovering from a stroke.  It’s a big Replacements weekend.  On Saturday singer/guitar player Paul Westerberg and bass player Tommy Stinson will front a new Replacements group at a sold-out show at Midway Stadium.
The film is interesting in that it has none of The Replacements’ music in  it, and, in fact, none of The Replacements.  It’s a record of what other people thought of them: sound engineers, fans, bar patrons and other musicians.  There are interviews with other important bands from the period: Husker Du, Babes in Toyland, The Decemberists, The Hold Steady, Archers of Loaf, Titus Andronicus and Goo Goo Dolls.
Director Gorman Bechard says, “People believe in god without ever seeing or hearing him or her. I’d like viewers to believe in the band that way.”
According to Wikipedia:  “The Replacements’ history began in Minneapolis in 1978 when 19-year-old Bob Stinson gave his 11-year-old brother, Tommy Stinson, a bass guitar to keep him off the streets. That year Bob met Mars, a high school dropout. With Mars playing guitar and then switching to drums, the trio called themselves ‘Dogbreath’ and began covering songs by Aerosmith, Ted Nugent and Yes without a singer. One day, as Westerberg, a janitor in U.S. Senator David Durenberger’s office, was walking home from work, he heard a band playing in the Stinsons’ house. After being impressed by the band’s performance, Westerberg regularly listened in after work. Mars knew Westerberg and invited him over to jam …
“After the band members discovered first-generation English punk bands like The Clash, The Jam, The Damned and The Buzzcocks, Dogbreath changed its name to The Impediments and played a drunken performance without Tommy Stinson at a church hall gig in June 1980.[11] After being banned from the venue for disorderly behavior, they changed the name to the Replacements. In an unpublished memoir, Mars later explained the band’s choice of name: ‘Like maybe the main act doesn’t show, and instead the crowd has to settle for an earful of us dirtbags.  It seemed to sit just right with us, accurately describing our collective “secondary” social esteem.’ ”
They played their last concert at Grant Park in Chicago on July 4, 1991.
Rock and roll and personal values became self-indulgent and narcissistic during the Reagan years.  The draft had ended so there weren’t any large demonstrations against war.  The Contra War was a low intensity CIA caper more than a U.S. action.  In their wild excesses The Replacements were the perfect soundtrack to the “Everyone for themselves” popular philosophy.  Perhaps one of their best songs sums that up:
She closes her mouth to speak and Closes her eyes to see
Thought about an’ only love
She’s achin’ to be
Just like me
What a perfect evocation of Narcissis gazing at his own reflection in the pool until he becomes so intoxicated with it he falls in and drowns.  Bob Dylan gave the perfect antidote:
Now he worships at an altar of a stagnant pool
And when he sees his reflection, he’s fulfilled
Oh, man is opposed to fair play
He wants it all and he wants it his way
Now, there’s a woman on my block
She just sit there as the night grows still
She say who’s gonna take away his license to kill?

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