So The Replacements were nominated for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame earlier this week along with the likes of a little band called Nirvana, KISS, my latest reading subject, Linda Ronstadat (the only woman nominated this year, fuck you very much RRHOF), NWA, LL Cool J, and some others I’m not going to type out.
Of course when I read the nomination list I was all “What? Really?” It was weird. Every year I give only the most cursory of thought to the RRHOF nominations. Someone worthy is always left off. The noms always go predominately to white men. How seriously can you take any institution that inducted The Red Hot Chili Peppers before, I don’t know, ANYONE ELSE?
And yet. . .
It’s weird that they’re nominated. The Replacements are the perennial runners of up Rock & Roll. The almost but not quite, the could of/should have been band. The “hey aren’t they the ones who sang the ‘Friends’ theme?” This is part of their legend and part of their appeal. A band full of misfits writing beautiful music about being misfits, also rans, should of beens appeals to, well the same kind of people.
This makes the new spotlight on The ‘Mats kind of uncomfortable for the people Westerberg once referred to as “a fistful of weirdos.” I think we like having the ‘Mats as our well-kept secret. I was kind of shocked by how many people were so pumped at The ‘Mats reunion, at least how many people outside of the strange Westerberg-centric world I live in.
Part of it was that I bought into the myth that they weren’t that popular and yet, it seemed for a week or so there, the entire Internet was filled with ‘Mats fanatics. Part of it was a sort of knee-jerk, autonomic response that somehow their sudden popularity would make my love for them less important. It was as though the unwashed masses were getting their mindless drool all over my rock and roll band. How dare they?
As if I have any sort of legitimate claim (you know, if this stupid claim had any sort of legitimacy) to this. I was, after all, the very last person on The ‘Mats bandwagon. And as someone who grew to love the band years after they broke up, who is to say there aren’t about million more people just like me. People who love funny, poignant lyrics that can also rock?
Just maybe The ‘Mats are like the TV show “Arrested Development” where their fanbase grew by leaps and bound after they stopped making music. It’s just a guess.
It’s also why I’m a little sneering and dismissive of things like Keep The Replacements Out of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Granted, this Salon piece is more about the stupidity of the Rock & Roll Hall of fame (Red Hot Chili Peppers, remember), but still. . . the clickbait headline sentiment is one I’ve seen floating around quite a bit since the nominations came out.
I want The ‘Mats to get in. Will they? Probably not. Will that feed into their myth? For sure. That isn’t gonna stop me from hoping the band that helps me define who I am gets some sort of recognition. Gets to stand shoulder to shoulder with The Stones, The Supremes and, I guess, the idiotic, irrelevant Chili Peppers.
I want that for them. I want that for me. I want that for any lonesome kid working a shitty post-college job listening to “Bastards of Young” as loud as their music-listening device of the future will go (for me it was a Walkman with a mix tape featuring one side with “Sorry Ma. . .” and the other side, inexplicably, “Tim”).
There’s this thing with the ‘Mats and their fans, they like to turn the not quite making it into this “we didn’t really want it” kind of thing. Which smells like total bullshit. You don’t keep making records if you don’t really want it, whatever it might be. Acclaim? Sales? Recognition? I don’t know, that’s up for each artist to decide. And I know, having been rejected a million billion times that telling yourself that you didn’t really want it is way easier than saying “I didn’t get what I wanted.”
But fuck that noise. I want it. I really, really want it.