The Wrong Comparison

Dear Mark Richardson, writer for Prickfork:

Today, in your review of the Replacements’ new best of comp, Don’t You Know Who I Think I Was, you wrote the following, and it made you sound like a retard: some quarters fans are trying to shore up the Replacements’ position by talking about influence. Nirvana are often mentioned, which makes some sense at first because they played loud rock and Kurt Cobain had a scratchy voice. The Replacements even had a song called “Nevermind”. But the comparison doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

Why mention Nirvana at all? The Replacements influenced everyone after, just each differently. With Nirvana. maybe it was attitude: the cover of Nevermind, and not the word ‘Nevermind,’ for instance, proves Replacements influence: Only the ‘Mats would visually refer to someone as uncool as Joe Walsh. The ‘we don’t care’ pose Nirvana used (to sell their excellently written pop songs via a major label and stay cool — c’mon now – it was Geffen made it go over) comes directly from the ‘Mats. Cobain’s tendency to walk over the drum kit, or miss notes, or do dumb covers, or wear a dress, not shave, play naked — all ‘Mats.

Certainly, “Come As You Are” was written with the ‘Mats’ “Go” in mind. See for yourself:

The Replacements — Go

And then, Mr. Richardson, you really bite the shit sandwhich by writing this:

Cobain was enamored of capital-a Art and all its pretensions; he thought of himself as a feminist and obsessed over childhood. Westerberg thought “art” was short for “Arthur” and the values in his songs were traditional.

Cobain was enamored with heroin.

As for Westerbereg’s traditional values – huh? “Androgynous”? “I Bought a Headache”? “Shootin’ Dirty Pool”? “Left of the Dial”? even “Date to Church”?) Westerberg was traditional sometimes, sure; like mid-westerners, he what he was when he thought what he thought. As for Westerberg’s obsession over childhood, it was as strong as Cobain’s, if not stronger: “Sixteen Blue,” “Fuck School,” “The Ledge,” “Talent Show,” “Kids Don’t Follow,” “Bastards of Young,” “Tommy gets His Tonsils Out.” The ‘Mats had a child in the band; Tommy was 12 or 13 around the time of their debut.

Bands that really need the Replacements: The Hold Steady. The Posies. The Paybacks. The Duke Spirit. Sebadoh. Superchunk. Ladyhawk. The New Pornographers. The Strokes. Ted Leo. The Hives. Jens Lekman. Art Brut.

Mr. Richardson, I think you own maybe All Shook Down, which is really Westerturd’s first solo rekkid, Don’t Tell a Soul, and maybe Tim, which you bought in college in 2001.

Maybe Cobain and Westerberg share their strongest bond in failure: Cobain was a junkie, and Westerberg a drunk, only taking different paths when one cleaned up and the other killed himself. But sometimes, when I listen to Westerberg’s solo work (save one Grandpaboy album, Mono, which is pretty good), I can’t decide which was the bigger loss.

The Replacements – Fuck School


4 thoughts on “The Wrong Comparison

  1. hello. i don’t know why anyone cares about pitchfork – i know i’m on the wrong side of the atlantic but it really seems like a load of rubbish. i’m happy this guy thinks the replacements are overrated. he probably thinks he’s being some kind of iconoclast. but i’d hate it if pitchfork liked them.and let’s face it nirvana gave us maybe one album’s worth of decent songs and ten tedious years of shit ‘look at me’ rock. thanks kurt.


  2. I’m with you on Nirvana. One pretty good record mainly justified by great drumming does not an icon make. His biggest achievement was writing an album for Courtney Love that got her taken seriously as a musician for a while. Almost a miracle, that.I think it would be pretty hard to prove the ‘mats were overrated. They made one very bad album: All Shook Down, and that’s a Westerberg solo project that got named Replacements by the label. The ‘Mats hlep invent indie rock. Not indie pop, not punk, not electro, not postpunk: indie rock. And then their punk DNA spits on the rockstar crown when it’s offered. I saw them play a show, a big show, one night, and they were not nervous, but annoyed that they had to behave themselves. Which made them fuck up. Which was nice to see, rather than Johnny Lydon putting on a ‘professional’ show of filthy lucre mongering. Much of the repalcements’ lure is the unnaturally disproportionate level of real talent (we’re talking the Bob lineup) and real dysfunction. Bob was special ed, ADHD, and a junkie – it was a miracle he could play like he could — not only would he have been dead without rock and roll, he soon was dead without it once the mats disbanded. Tommy was a kid; Mars is just a weirdo, really, and Westerberg was a full blown antisocial alkie. See the comments from the All for Nothing comp; I think Jim Dickinson is the one who mentions seeing ‘Paint it Black’ era Stones and also the ‘Mats’ fabled show at CBGB, and he rates the ;Mats as better. Makes it hard to overrate them, there.


  3. Ok i gotta say it’s not Nirvana’s fault that Pitchfork TOTALLY SUX I mean all Pitchfork or Prickfork (love that) does is piss people off cuz they are unfair and they are just a bunch of attention getting lemmings. anyways i dig your blog, i love the replacements (saw them lots sometimes standing sometimes playing sometimes swaying to a crash on the floor)and i gotta say i love Nirvana. anyways thanks for your cool blog. (my 100th entry was for “fire of love”)


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