THE REPLACEMENTS, HOOTENANNY, 1983
Also available on Putting On The Ritz NYC 1987 (Bootleg)
Cover version: Wilco-- Fillmore SF 5-10-97 (Bootleg)
Hell, yeah-- for people my age, this song is a touchstone. If you knew about this song in the 80s, we probably ended up being friends. Pre-internet, finding bands like this took serious work. I'll probably never love a band again as much as I loved The Replacements.
Strangely, I didn't own Hootenanny for years, even though I was a Replacements fanatic. I had this song on "Boink," a stopgap EP with some odds and ends tracks. I finally bought a used vinyl copy at Amoeba in the 90s sometime. When Twin/Tone redid the CDs a few years ago, I bought that version, and probably listened to it for the first time straight through 25 years too late. I played all the other Replacements albums into the ground, but not this one-- no idea why. This song, though? I might have listened to it every day for a year at one point.
Many people have already written about the general greatness of the Replacements, so I'll just focus on what makes this song so fabulous. First, that opening descending riff is a classic, Whole Lotta Love-moment: instantly recognizable and exciting. Then come those four out of rhythm snare hits with Bob's string squeaks instead of a solo-- the song seems like it's gonna fall apart five seconds after it gets started. It doesn't, though-- instead comes that great opening verse: "Everybody at your party / They don't look depressed / Everybody dressin' funny / Color me impressed."
I remember feeling that dread in high school during the five seconds when I had arrived at a party right before I went in the front door. I always felt for a second like I cold just as easily slink back into the darkness. This song was the voice in my head right at that moment.
The instrumental break after the second verse is my favorite part-- Bob Stinson's guitar playing is so angular and sloppy, but it all works so well, and Chris Mars' drumming is so locked in. Bob's solo is equally out of control later. And I love the bizarro third verse with the "monkey on the mirror" and the intoxicating "French kiss;" it adds absurdity and mystery. Finally, the band seems to tire of the song after a few minutes and just wraps it up. It's a 2:27 punk song, but it feels weary. I just love it. The Wilco version I have is from the encore of that night, and Tweedy introduces it with "Everything we do we ripped off from The Replacements." I think a lot of Wilco music has that same world-weary feel.
Paul Westerberg made me feel cool; if a guy this good felt the way I did, then I was going to be fine. I think, ultimately, that's the genius of The Replacements. It made all of us who were worried that we were losers not worry so much.
Always and forever, though, this song for me will be driving down a two lane country Maryland road in the dark in the Chevy Blazer of Chris, the bassist in my first band, singing along at impossible volume. Color me im-PRESSED!
Side note-- I've added links to all the songs, so go back to Songs #1 and #2 if you want to listen, and look for links at the bottom of each post. The link below is to a soundcheck version from Maxwell's in 1986.