This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their list, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.
KEXP: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.
Song #269: I Will Dare by The Replacements.
The Replacements are such an interesting and important band. They formed in the early 1980s in Minnesota. The line-up that existed for most of their career consisted of singer/songwriter, Paul Westerberg, brothers, Bob and Tommy Stinson on guitars and drummer Chris Mars. The band started out as a Punk band and spent the first few years of their existence barely making any money, playing mostly for their own amusement, often intoxicated on stage, getting banned from establishment, after establishment. But, the Punk ethos was not where their hearts completely were. There was as much of a Rock n’ Roll quality to their look and the lyrics of the songs that they wrote that, almost without realizing it, “The Replacements” began combining Punk and more traditional Rock in ways that helped launch the genre of music called “Alternative Rock”.
Over the course of their, at times, volatile career, The Replacements had a string of important and noteworthy hit songs such as “Unsatisfied”, “Dyslexic Heart”, “Bastards of Young”, “Alex Chilton”, “I’ll Be You”, “Merry-Go-Round” and, of course, one of their biggest hits, “I Will Dare”, which ended up being inducted into The Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame in the Song Category.
The song, “I Will Dare” is, ostensibly, about an older man contemplating a tryst with a much younger female. There is nothing in the song that says, explicitly, that the girl is a minor but, there is much in the song that gives the impression that the man, in question, is seriously tempted but, just as seriously, worried about the consequences of such a union. Despite the taboo implications of “I Will Dare”, the band has always maintained that the story told in the song is on the up-and-up and is more about a scenario that explores the limitations we impose upon ourselves because of our concern for how others may react to the decisions we make. Westerberg says that he, deliberately, made the storyline hint at being provocative to drive home his point that we self-censor our lives far too frequently instead of chasing our dreams with abandon. Many music critics have hailed “I Will Dare” as being very Beatlesesque; especially, in how The Beatles crafted songs in the later stages of their career. In fact, “I Will Dare” can be found on a The Replacements album entitled, “Let It Be”, which makes their Beatles tribute pretty clear.
The Replacements were a band that many claim to embody the true essence of what it meant to play Rock n’ Roll from the heart. They were dangerous, in the sense that, as an audience, you never knew what you were going to see when you went to one of their shows. When the band was playing well, they could showcase a setlist of songs that tapped into the lives of young people in America as well as any band ever has. When they were off, they could be notorious for their behaviour which culminated in their infamous appearance as musical guests on Saturday Night Live. G.E. Smith, who was SNL Musical Director at the time, loved the band and thought their were the best band in the entire country. He managed to book them as musical guests, the same week as actor Harry Dean Stanton was scheduled to be guest host. As it turned out, as the show was set go on air…..live…..on Saturday night, the members of The Replacements, along with host, Stanton, had prepared for their big moment on national television by indulging in copious amounts of alcohol and drugs, resulting in them all being too impaired to perform properly. The end result was a rare lifetime ban from the show by director, Lorne Micheals.
With The Replacements, you got a band that often existed primarily to please themselves. Luckily, much of what pleased them, in terms of lyrical content, turned out to please a great many fans, too. The legacy that they leave in their wake is a song catalogue that forms an important part of the foundation for the entire genre of, what came to be called, “Alternative Music”. I am not sure I would want the band staying at my house, if my house was an AirBnB but, I most definitely want The Replacements on the playlists that I listen to in my car and in my home and everywhere I want good music to be.
So without further procrastination or delay, here are The Replacements, with one of the songs that helped define music in the 1980s, “I Will Dare”. Enjoy.
The link to the video for the song, “I All Dare” by The Replacements, can be found here.
The link to the official website for The Replacements, can be found here.
Thanks, as always, to KEXP, for supporting good music in all of its forms. The link to their official website can be found here.