One for Friday: The Replacements, “Beer for Breakfast”

Admittedly, I’ve sort of got beer on the brain these days, something that’s hard to avoid in my neck of the nation. But I swear there are other things my mind wanders to during the day. Like fabulously messy songs about drinking beer at unlikely hours of the day.

While I’m anticipated that our household will drink more than its fair share of beer over the course of the next several days, I don’t think we’ll be resorting to beer for breakfast anytime soon, even though we have a couple remaining bottles of an especially suitable choice for that activity in our fridge. Besides, there’s a whole different point of the year when beer for breakfast is practically a necessity.

But this weekly feature is about the music not the libations that might be slugged back while listening. It’s worth noting, then, that this track gets at everything I loved about the Replacements. It’s a quick, punchy rocker, just a goofy notion that popped into Paul Westerberg’s head at precisely the time in his evolution as a songwriter when he could make almost anything into a tight, smart pop song and make it seem effortless. It has a punk ethos disregard for refinement, but the immense capability of the structure and the playing belie the slacker mentality that they’re all trying so hard to convey. In lieu of the genuine recklessness that was present on the band’s earliest albums (this song was recorded in the mid-eighties, after Let It Be, which was Westerberg’s album-length confession that he had actual talent for the craft of his chosen field of endeavor), they announce their misguided embrace of culturally destitute self-destruction right in the lyrics of the song. The only thing more entertaining than The Mats’ early bumbling matched with cranky disdain for the rigors of performing and musicianship was the way they kept trying to perpetuate their legend after they’d clearly bought into the system. It was that grand dichotomy between who they once were, who they became and who they sometimes lapsed into that made the Replacements the most unpredictable show on Earth, or at least on college radio.

As they say, “Halle-fuckin-lujah.”

The Replacements, “Beer for Breakfast”

(Disclaimer: Sorting through the various permutations of the Replacements proper album releases and then rereleases is a little like trying to make sense out of one of the set lists from the height of their days of drunken debauchery. It looks to me like the most prominent release that included this track, the somewhat odd compilation All for Nothing/ Nothing for All that Warner Brothers released in 1997, is fully out of print as a physical item that can be procured through your favorite local, independently-owned record store. It can be purchased digitally, but I believe the fat cats at the label are making sure Westerberg and company are getting their due compensation for such purchases about as much as I believe a Mats reunion tour would be a good idea. Regardless, if someone with due authority to request its removal contacts me with such a request I will gladly and dutifully comply. If, however, the RIAA wants me to give them a trillion dollars for posting this, then they can fuck straight off. They are the worst people in the world. If you’d like to financially support the Replacements and the Warner corporate entity, go buy Pleased to Meet Me. It’s one of the five best rock ‘n’ roll albums ever made. I kid you not.)