Let me try to explain what that means to me. It would be like an extremely devout Catholic meeting the Pope. Like a Chicago Cubs fan not only seeing their team make it into the World Series, but sweeping the other team. Like a Jets fan seeing their team go undefeated. Like buying that Powerball ticket and being the lone winner of a few hundred million dollars. It’s a dream. It’s unreal. It could never happen.
But two weeks from now, on a Sunday evening in Toronto, they will take the stage. Will they play a perfect set of their most beloved songs? Will they be in cantankerous moods and play only parts of inconceivable cover songs? Will they rock? Roll? Will they have mellowed with age? Will they tear the non-existent roof off the fucking joint? It doesn’t matter. It’s a Replacements show. We’re not supposed to know what to expect. As long as they show up.
There are of course the naysayers. Those who say, “This isn’t The Replacements, it’s just Paul and Tommy.” To them I say, “shut the fuck up.” Bob is gone. Slim is ill. And Chris just doesn’t want to be a part of it. But still, this is Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson taking the stage and playing the songs that changed our lives, that in many cases defined our lives. If you have issue with it, don’t go. (Though I truly believe the naysayers are only naysayers because they can’t get to one of the three shows. Put a ticket in their hands and they’d be singing a different tune.)
I think about those I know who’ve never seen the band. Those who came late to the show (and coming late is a hell of a lot better than never showing up at all), or those who were too young to see the band during their day. The excitement they must be feeling as they think, I’m seeing The Replacements in two weeks.
I think of all the times one of their songs has figuratively saved by life. The blaring of “Here Comes A Regular,” and it somehow making me feel just a tad better, because I was not that guy in the song. The loud out-of-tune howling of “Unsatisfied,” knowing that I was not alone in the world. I’m seeing The Replacements in two weeks.
I think of the joy songs like “Color Me Impressed” or “Can’t Hardly Wait” or “If Only You Were Lonely” have brought me over the years. Always played a little too loud. Often played on endless repeat. Songs that still make me feel alive to this day. Songs that make me feel young, invincible, loud, brash, horny, crazy. The soundtrack to my personal life. I’m seeing The Replacements in two weeks.
I think of the inspiration the band has given me. Whether writing a book or working on a film, they were always there in the background. The soundtrack to my professional life. Stuck? Put on a Mats tune. Need to wake up? Put on a Mats tune. Done? Put on a Mats tune. They were even characters in my first novel. Not that this band needed to be fictionalized, they were always larger than life. But what other band would God’s daughter claim as her favorite? She is divine. She knows everything. She knows rock & roll. Ilona Ann Coggswater would be so happy for me. I’m seeing The Replacements in two weeks.
I think of the times I’ve seen them live. One of my favorite musical moments, Paul Westerberg coming back alone for the encore at the Beacon Theatre. A balloon in hand. Sucking in the helium. Singing “Hello Dolly” acapella, then leaving the stage, leaving us all wondering “what the fuck?” The audience cleared out, and when the last fan had left the building, the band burst back onto the stage, and ripped into a rollicking encore, leaving all of us to rush back in from the street. If was a moment I’ll never forget. I’m seeing The Replacements in two weeks.
I think of my wife beautiful Kristine, by my side for thirteen of the fifteen times I’ve seen them. Married for twenty years now. Often times people would ask our secret. I would ask Kris, “What’s your favorite band?” She’d answer “The Replacements. What’s yours?” And I’d answer “The Replacements.” And that would be the answer to the question. We’re seeing The Replacements in two weeks.
And of course, I think of being able to direct “Color Me Obsessed, a film about The Replacements.” Meeting and interviewing so many like-minded fans, some famous, many not, people who knew them, worked with them, produced their albums, wrote about them, were influenced by them, spent more time with them than any of their teenaged friends. An honor. I was humbled by the love, the devotion. I never felt more connected to people in my life. I was not alone. And I’m seeing The Replacements in two weeks.