Category Archives: replacements

I hate Big Star, and it’s okay.

BigStar-NO

As a lifelong fan of The Replacements (their life as a band, not mine as a human), I am seemingly required to love the band Big Star, the Alex Chilton-fronted band which put out three albums in the early 70s about which most indie rock fans genuflect and drool.

I’ve tried. Truly I have. Giving the albums many a long-drive-in-the-car listen back in the mid-80s, in the 90’s, at least once a decade. Most recently on a two hour drive, my wife (also a lifelong Mats fan) and I gave it the old college (though we’re both drop out) try.

And not that long ago a friend who’s music opinion I truly value gave me a song-by-song intro to the band. What to listen to first, second, third.

But still I felt nothing.

I watched the Big Star documentary thinking maybe their story would make me care. Nope.

The story was irrelevant. It was the music that didn’t click for me.

Why? (Hold on to that for me.)

In a nutshell, Chilton’s voice is grating and unemotional. Flat like a can of soda left open over night. The production is the worst of everything early-70s wrapped into one, back when I thought rock and roll was over, before punk resuscitated it.   It all sounds like a bad version of what was popular on the radio at the time, which was already bordering on the unlistenable. When listening to Big Star I hear everything that almost made me give up on rock and roll back when I was a teen.

Though I will readily admit the songwriting is good. You certainly can’t tell when Chilton is singing, but hand the song “Thirteen” over to Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, or listen to what This Mortal Coil could do with “Kangaroo” or “Holacaust” and you think songwriting genius. The Bangles cover of “September Gurls” is a pure pop treat that would make Nick Lowe grin. Many amazing songs–I’ll be the first to admit it–when performed by someone else. But those same songs performed by Big Star. They leave me cold.

And please don’t bring up historical significance. Because someone like Robert Johnson has ten thousand times the influence but it would take a gun-to-the-head to make most rock fan give a Johnson tune a spin.

This dislike of Big Star was a secret I held close for years. How could such a huge fan of The Replacements loathe the songwriter who was supposedly one of Paul Westerberg’s biggest influences? How could the director of The Replacements documentary utter such blasphemy?

But the answer finally came to me. Easy. It’s okay. Not every band can speak to every person. And there should be no shame in hating a band you’re supposed to like. Music is subjective. Not every song, not every band, can speak to the same person in the same way. It’s art. Not fast food. There is absolutely nothing wrong with me disliking Big Star, just as there is nothing wrong with you loving them.

I’ll say it now. There are lots of bands I’m supposed to like that bore me to tears. The New York Dolls. Iggy and the Stooges. Hell, I’ve never been able to tolerate an entire Ramones concert because after a few songs they all begin to sound the same. Or the Johnny-come-lately Mats rip-off band Beach Slang–I freakin’ detest Beach Slang while so many other Replacements fans I know are ready for groupie-like devotion. Does this make me a bad person? Does this make me less of a music fanatic? Does this make me an musical idiot? No, no, no. It makes me honest about how music affects me, and it does, in ways even I can’t begin to understand. Music is my religion. But because I get more enjoyment out of Miley Cyrus than I do the New York Dolls is okay. It’s all okay. What you like. What I like. It’s personal. Like toppings on a pizza, the team we root for, our favorite junk TV, our brand of beer.

So what exactly am I saying here? Simply this: “I, Gorman Bechard, love The Replacements, but I hate Big Star. ”

And if you shame me because I’m missing the Big Star gene, that’s on you. You’re the one who should be ashamed.

 

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Filed under Alex Chilton, Big Star, Color Me Obsessed, paul westerberg, replacements, replacements reunion, the replacements, Uncategorized

An open letter to my Color Me Obsessed fans

Hello,

I think I can probably qualify as a pretty big Replacements fan. I’ve loved them since about 1983. Have gone to every tour since, including every solo tour. So having watched and listened to Paul and company for that long I find myself not bothered one microscopic bit by this co-called break-up announcement. Why? you might ask. Because it’s the fucking Replacements. They live to fuck with us. That’s part of why we love them. Is there a more sarcastic genius on the planet than Paul? NO, there isn’t. So, my advice: everyone unruffle your panties, sit back, and wait. In the mean time, enjoy the music as you always have, enjoy the onslaught of live videos posted on YouTube, and be patient. What makes for great rock and roll is that you never know what’s going to happen next. And here we are…

Gorman Bechard
director, Color Me Obsessed

CMO-POSTER-FINAL-small

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Filed under Color Me Obsessed, paul westerberg, replacements, replacements reunion

Slim Dunlap benefit at Parkway Theatre in MPLS on All Replacements Eve

Two weeks from tonight, on the eve of the national holiday to celebrate The Replacements (and their St. Paul gig)…we’re throwing a benefit for Slim Dunlap at the Parkway Theatre in Minneapolis, featuring a Scott D. Hudson podcast, two sets of Slim and Mats tunes from a bevy of amazing musicians moderated by Jon Clifford, and a completely different version of Color Me Obsessed, edited just for this night.  (I’m calling it “The Editing Room Floor Edition,” and it doesn’t so much tell the story of the Mats but instead is a collection of many smile-inducing tales, many of which never made it into the film.”)

Plus we will be raffling away tons of cool items all night, including a signed copy of Amanda Petrusich amazing new book on record collecting, a gorgeous Erica Bruce Mats still photo, signed CDs from Lydia LovelessMatthew Ryan, and others, a signed copy of Jim Walsh‘s photographic history, a few dozen DVD’s from my distributor MVD, and so so so so much more…(yes, even some of my crap.)

And all profits are going to help cover Slim’s medical expenses. If you’re in the Twin Cities area…well, you know what you have to do! There will be many great surprises. This is the Mats party everyone will be talking about.

Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/719166908137828/

Tickets here: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/841675

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I’m seeing The Replacements in two weeks…

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.

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The making of COLOR ME OBSESSED – part 12

We interviewed Dave Minehan in his Wooly Mammoth Sound Studio. Not only had his band The Neighborhoods opened for The Replacements (and the Clash) way back in the day, Dave had played guitar on the first Paul Westerberg solo tour. So he was well-versed in Mats history. His stories were varied and funny. He not only loved the band (He “drank the Kool-Aid,” as he put it), he loved their every album. A rarity. In fact one of my favorite quotes in the film is his comment about Don’t Tell A Soul. (Of course, you’ll have to wait to see the film to know what it is.)

As I had long ago decided that Color Me Obsessed would cover The Replacements from when that first demo tape went from Paul’s to Peter Jesperson’s hands, through to their breakup at Grant Park on July 1st, 1991, my biggest predicament with Minehan came when he recalled an amazing tale about touring with Paul in London and running into Joe Strummer at an outdoor flea market. Luckily, we have a lot of knobs on that old answering machine on the CMO website. Click the volume control and you can hear the story.

If I wasn’t sure after interviewing Jack Rabid, that I indeed did have a movie here. Dave cemented it. We talked for over 90 minutes, and I left feeling that I had found my musical twin. The guy’s got great tastes in bands!

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Filed under alternative rock, Color Me Obsessed, directing, documentaries, filmmaking, friends with benefits, gorman bechard, jack rabid, joe strummer, low budget films, paul westerberg, replacements, rock n roll, rockumentary, the clash, the replacements

The making of COLOR ME OBSESSED – part 11

Over the holidays last year, two old friends joined the production team: Dean Falcone, whom I’ve known for about three decades, and who co-wrote the score for FRIENDS (WITH BENEFITS), and Ed Valauskas, whom I first met when he played bass so many eons ago in amazing band Gravel Pit. Both have countless connections in the music industry. They would get us to many of the rockers who would so make this film work.

Our second day of filming interviews for COLOR ME OBSESSED was actually set up by Ed. Wednesday, January 27, 2010. Heading north this time, up to Boston. Five interviews in all, three of them taking place at the Q Division Studios. (Thank you very much!)

Only Adrian and I would make trip up. It being a weekday, Jim needed to work. It would actually be just Adrian and myself for a while, or at least until Sarah said, “I want to learn about video.”

The first interview would take place at 11 AM…so we hit the road at 7:30, just in case there was traffic or construction in and around Boston. (Like that could ever happen.)

First up: George Skaubitis, who worked radio promotions for Warner Brothers. George was very quiet and subdued, but he gave me one amazing quote, part of which you can see in the second trailer right here, calling the band a “glorious mess.” It was a short interview, but I’ll always take quality over quantity.

Next up was Dave Minehan of The Neighborhoods…

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The making of COLOR ME OBSESSED – part 10

(It’s been a week…sorry about that, besides being on the road, I had to create an M&E for Friends With Benefits. That’s a music and effects track for foreign sales, which will allow for dubbing. But since most all of our sound was recorded live, all of the effects are surrounded by dialog. It basically meant I had to go in and pull or re-create every sound in the film, i.e. when Shirley puts a glass down on the bar, we need to hear the glass touching the bar, and not whatever Shirley might be saying. Tedious, so say the least. It was sort of like having your away-at-college kid show up unexpectedly for a weekend visit, and damn if you hadn’t turned their room into a music room, or screening room, or whatever your pleasure. Unexpected, but still you realized it was nice to see the brat.)

Ok…time to get sidetracked, as I was just in Cleveland for a few last minute cmo interviews and I finally had the opportunity to visit the rock n roll hall of fame, and ok, look, the Springsteen section was amazing, to see his old Tele (the one from the cover of Born To Run) was like seeing Van Gogh’s Starry Night for the first time. Goddamn, did I want to touch it. The blacken neck gave me goosebumps. Every crack in the body’s finish seemed to bleed rock and roll. In my opinion it’s the most important guitar of all time. And I feel honored to have stood in its presence.

And look, sure it’s a gorgeous building, right on the lake, etc., and so forth…but we’ve all seen museums before. This one is supposed to be special! But aside from the Springsteen exhibit, which was inspiring (and the Bowie and Les Paul’s original electric displays as well), I was left wanting more. A LOT MORE. And y’know why? The punk section was closed because of remodeling, so no Clash, no Costello, no Sex Pistols, NO REPLACEMENTS, and yet I would still see shit like Steven Tyler’s or Stevie Nicks’ stage costumes, and countless FM radio crap, that all fell into the same genre. I’m sure that whomever creamed over the Lynyrd Skynyrd display likewise gushed over the ZZ Top. They were covered. But to put the most important movement in rock on the back burner because of remodeling. Fuck! Kill the goddamn Doors display. Or does anyone really care about Pink Floyd’s The Wall? Obviously, the powers that be at the Hall of Fame are as biased as the reporters on Fox News. And as always, the smart minority gets fucked. (Really now, you couldn’t have found room for even a hint of punk? Shame on you!)

Supposedly the remodeling will be complete in 2012, so anyone thinking of visiting should wait.

Ultimately was as the Hall of Fame disappointing? Yes. But would I go back? Sure, I’d give it one more chance to get it right.

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Filed under alternative rock, directing, documentaries, filmmaking, friends with benefits, gorman bechard, independent film, indie, low budget films, low budget movies, paul westerberg, punk, punk rock, replacements, rock and roll hall of fame, rock n roll, rockumentary, springsteen, the replacements