Were I to compile a list of songs entitled “Songs That Should Have Been Hits”, then this song would make top twenty at least. What’s not to love about this track? A great hook, some great lyrics from head writer Paul Westerberg (“How young are you? /How old am I? / Let’s count the rings/Around my eyes…”), and some great guest playing on it by none other than Peter Buck from REM. It should have been all over mainstream radio.
The ‘Mats (as they are known...) were an unstable unit in many ways, with brilliance lurking beneath a slovenly approach to the stage, with rock deity clashing with too much drink on a regular basis. Perhaps it’s this which kept them from breaking through to the mainstream, yet grew their legend as an underground attraction. There again, their lack of pop success could have been their seemingly willful refusal to play to a specific genre, which was a cardinal sin starting in the 80s and continuing today. The album off of which the track comes is known as one of their high points, taking a pot shot at rock classicism not only by putting a folk rock tune (“Unsatisfied”), a KISS cover (“Black Diamond”), and a hard-core punk tune (“We’re Coming Out”) on the same record, but in naming the record in question after a Beatles album.
Paul Westerberg would go on to success as a solo artist, while Tommy Stinson would join the latest version of Guns n’ Roses with sole original member Axl Rose. Guitarist Bob Stinson died in 1995 of a drug overdose, regrettably succumbing to the rock n roll lifestyle that the Replacements would embody for many.
Despite burning out as a collective, the Replacements are considered to be influential, informing the sounds of bands like Nirvana, Green Day, and Wilco, among others.