The Replacements, “Alex Chilton”
A nice, short piece on the influence rock journalism had on Paul Westerberg and The Replacements:
“But music criticism does seem particularly essential to what the Replacements were up to. Two things that heartland rock-and-roll fans coming of age in the late seventies had that earlier fans did not were punk rock and easy access to rock criticism.
‘I was weaned on critics. I read every issue of Creem, Rolling Stone, Crawdaddy!,’ Westerberg tells Mehr, adding, later, ‘I started to get a sense of what critics think is cool.’ He also got a sense of what a certain type of critic did not think was cool. Critics, Westerberg explains, taught him that Top Forty singles and album-oriented-rock tracks were corny and hackneyed, and that punk rock—Johnny Thunders and the New York Dolls especially—was the way to go. Happily, the lessons young Paul Westerberg learned from all those critics freed him to explore new sounds. And, just as happily, he and the other Replacements followed those lessons only intermittently, mixing uncool bubblegum, A.O.R., and singer-songwriter balladry in with the punk—and whatever else was needed.”
There’s definitely something writerly or self-reflective in the best Westerberg songs, as opposed to say the (still equally awesome) impressionism of Bob Mould and Grant Hart. I mean, The Replacements could cheekily get away with “Something To Du,” and Bob Mould would get the joke but probably wasn’t interested in returning the favor.
Anyhow, this sounds like another good read for the summer.