Music Memory: The Replacements, 'I'll Be You'

Cover of The Replacements' 'Don't Tell A Soul' album, which includes the track,
Cover of The Replacements' 'Don't Tell A Soul' album, which includes the track, "I'll Be You." (© Sire Records.)

This week's Music Memory comes from Sara Hauber of Chicago.

The year: 1989. The place: A big yellow school bus, a few blocks from my home in a suburb of St. Paul, Minn. It was mid-afternoon, just about the time the sun was angling through the thick, leaf cover that canopied my neighborhood's streets. As always, I had my portable Sony AM/FM cassette player tuned to my favorite local station. Being a sophomore in high school, music — and the ability to drown out the rest of the world at a moment's notice — was priceless to me; I was never without my Sony. So there I was, headphones on, slouched down in the big, vinyl-covered bus seat, watching the sun dapple the sidewalks as we rumbled toward home.

Suddenly time seemed to stop. A song came on the radio, and my ears seemed to tune to a higher frequency. I heard every note clearer than I'd ever heard music in the past. The classical music and big-band sounds my parents loved sounded pale and flat next to the rich tone I was hearing. There on that big yellow school bus through my puffy Sony headphones, I was truly hearing music for the first time. The song was "I'll Be You," the band was — who else? — and I was a forever-changed music fan from that moment forward.

I remember that day so clearly, in pure technicolor, that if I were a skilled artist I'd paint the scene for you now. And even though I saw the Replacements perform at what I believe was their last live show in Minneapolis, on Feb 6, 1991, at the historic Orpheum Theatre, not even that night could usurp the first time I heard the 'Mats on the radio. It is my ultimate memory of the band. The moment I knew this was the only band that ever mattered.

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