All My Favorite Songs #15: Bastards of Young

Years before "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was a twinkle in Kurt Cobain's eye, the Replacements delivered the ultimate anthem of Generation X disillusionment. "Trash their baby boom" indeed, as Paul Westerberg stepped up and confirmed his role as the chief lyricist of the era, as he did throughout 1985's superb Tim LP.

Things look bleak right out of the gate. "God, what a mess, on the ladder of success. You take one step and miss the whole first rung. Dreams unfulfilled, graduate unskilled,  it beats pickin' cotton and waitin' to be forgotten."  And then there's this bit: "The ones who love us best are the ones we'll lay to rest,
And visit their graves on holidays at best. The ones who love us least are the ones we'll die to please."

(Speaking of lyrics: For nearly 40 years I'd been singing (well, shouting) along to the chorus with "We are the sons of no one, bastards of young." But apparently the correct lyric is "Wait on the sons of no one," which according to Westerberg (as per the excellent Replacements biography) he cribbed from a bible verse. Kinda prefer my way, though, and that's what I will continue to shout along with.)

But the words are tethered to a killer riff, making it a roll-down-the-windows-and-crank-it-up belter, the Sex Pistols' "Pretty Vacant" updated for the post-punk college radio set.

And as they did throughout their brief but wondrous career, the 'Mats sabotaged the perfect almost-MTV-ready anthem by refusing to deliver a proper video, simply pointing the camera at the stereo speakers. Nirvana wouldn't make the same mistake.

And then, of course, they showed up wasted to perform the song on SNL, getting themselves banned from the show for life... but the video survives!


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