The Mats

Just finished reading a great book about the band that changed my life, The Replacements.

mats trouble cover

Here’s the dust jacket blurb – it actually does the book justice:

TROUBLE BOYS IS A DEEPLY INTIMATE PORTRAIT, REVEALING THE PRIMAL FACTORS AND FORCES – ADDICTION, ABUSE, FEAR – THAT WOULD SHAPE ONE OF THE MOST BRILLIANT AND NOTORIOUSLY SELF-DESTRUCTIVE GROUPS OF ALL-TIME.
BASED ON A DECADE OF RESEARCH AND REPORTING, HUNDREDS OF INTERVIEWS (WITH FAMILY, FRIENDS, MANAGERS, PRODUCERS AND MUSICAL COLLEAGUES), AS WELL AS FULL ACCESS TO THE REPLACEMENTS’ ARCHIVES AT TWIN/TONE AND WARNER BROS. RECORDS, AUTHOR BOB MEHR HAS FASHIONED SOMETHING FAR MORE COMPELLING THAN A CONVENTIONAL BAND BIO. TROUBLE BOYS IS A HEARTBREAKINGLY TRAGIC, FREQUENTLY COMIC, AND, ULTIMATELY, TRIUMPHANT EPIC.

I knew quite a bit about the band before reading the book, but there were lots of great stories in it that I’d never heard before. It was amazing to me to read about how many times – and how many different ways – the band managed to shoot themselves in the foot. Sometimes the self-destruction was self-induced, via alcohol or drugs. But there were a few times when the fickle finger of fate killed any momentum they might be building. Like when their great song about teen suicide “The Ledge” was being pushed as a single at roughly the same time that four kids in New Jersey killed themselves in a suicide pact.

But fate and addiction probably had less to do with the ‘mats lack of success than their innate fear of success and mistrust of the system. Self-sabotage is a recurring theme in the book, and that’s a shame, because they were great.

They left a legacy of fantastic music… and the stories are pretty legendary too. And of course they created one of the greatest videos of all time:

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