Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Replacements on Saturday Night Live, 1/18/86.

1/18/86.  The Replacements appeared on Saturday Night Live, their first and only nationally televised appearance in the USA.   I imagine anyone who lived through original Elvis, Beatles, or Rolling Stones (etc. etc. etc.) television performances remembers vividly when these performances occurred.  I do on this one.  I was in college and it was a bitter cold night.  As per usual, we were having a party that was going quite strongly (though truth be told, 6 or 7 additional girls would have helped the gender asymmetry).  At 10:30, Central Time, Saturday Night Live came on.  I halted the party (I am sure in a not altogether suave way) and said (I am sure in a not altogether coherent way) we're watching SNL.

How could it NOT be legendary?  The greatest band in the entire world was going to play AND it was hosted by Harry Dean Stanton, the star of my favorite movie of all time (at that time), Repo Man.  Settling into another Schaefers, me and the remaining party-attendees watched the show.

Honestly, the show SUCKED.  This was a downtime in SNL history and the cast was pretty poor, the writing worse, and the performances stiff and boring.  Sam Kinnison appeared in a stand-up routine.  He was horrifically bad.  Just really, really bad.

But then at the bottom the first hour, Harry Dean Stanton introduces "The Replacements."

Holy Shit.

There they are.

I had seen them a few times before this, but this was NATIONAL TV.  THE BIG TIME.

The initial notes to Bastards of Young were so distorted and somewhat out-of-tune it took a couple of seconds to triangulate.  Once I did, I thought, "oh man."  The pace of the song was fast, loud, and poignant.  Many have noted how drunk the Mats were--and I'm pretty sure they were--but compared to shows I had seen previously, including some a few weeks earlier, they were ON.

Bastards of Young on SNL, 1/18/86

And they were.  Watch the video.  Yeah.  Maybe out-of-tune.  Yeah.  Paul doesn't sing all the lines (find me one song ever where he did).  Yeah.  Bob seems to be playing a slightly different version of the song than Paul, Tommy or Chris. But watch the video.  Listen to the song.  I'm biased (just a little), but I consider it the greatest performance ever on SNL (this is coming from someone who saw the live performances of Elvis Costello and FEAR on SNL).

To me, the greatest moment in the BOY performance is one that no one has ever noted as far as I can tell (which means I may be way off base).  After Paul sings the immortal line "The ones who love us best are the ones we'll lay to rest/ Visit their graves on holidays at best/ The ones who love us least, are the the ones we'll die to please..," he exaggeratedly winks at the camera.  Why did he do that?

In October or November, there was a review of "Tim" in some national magazine (originally I thought it was Rolling Stone but I think it's some other magazine now).   In that review, whoever wrote it noted that that line was emblematic of the genius of PW's songwriting skills.   I think Paul's wink was a way of saying "fuck you" or "c'mon fuckers" or whatever.  But whatever, that moment in the SNL performance sticks with me.

And of course after that line, they launch into Bob's solo, Paul uttering "C'mon Fucker" a line which, legend says, got them banned from SNL.

Fortunately, it didn't get them banned from playing their second song of the night, "Kiss Me on the Bus."

Kiss Me on the Bus on SNL, 1/18/86

Noteworthy here is that Paul, Tommy, and Chris came out cross-dressed.  No, not in bra and panties, but in each others clothes they had worn on their performance of Bastards.  I guess being skinny as a rail has its virtues: if everyone in the band is skinny as a rail and about yay-high, clothing substitution is pretty easy.  Only Bob wore his original attire.

If Lorne Michaels wasn't already shitting large bricks because of "Bastards", he must've transitioned to shitting large buildings when these fuckers came on in each others' clothes and Paul substituting the line "Kiss Me on the Butt" for "Kiss Me on the Bus."  Watch it.  Watch Paul smile each time he says it.  Classic. Epic.

So the Mats were done.  Two songs. Over.  Might as well turn this crappy show off now, right?  For some reason we didn't.  We watched this to the end.

We were not disappointed.  The finishing credits to this episode are not to be missed, especially if you love Chris Mars.  While the cast of SNL, as horrific and lame as it was in those days, is mugging about, our Mats are appearing and disappearing like quarks in a super collider.  As someone once wrote, the cast looked at our fellas as if they were a four-part fart.

Who cares.

That was an iconic night.  One I'll never forget.  Legendary.


  1. It was far far more than saying the f word that got them banned...they trashed the green room, put shit in the room's ice should check out the documentary Color Me Obsessed if you are curious. :)

  2. Yea, I think taking a crap in the ice bucket pretty much sealed it!