I was in my car the other day switching through songs on my mp3 player when I stopped on “Bastards of Young” by the Replacements, college radio darlings of the 1980s (a fine decade for both music and producing people, like me). It immediately reminded me of my upcoming trip to Minneapolis for work. I thought about how I wasn’t all that familiar with the city, except for the fact that it is the place so many great musicians got their start. Like Paul Westerberg. Not exactly an upstanding citizen in his younger days, but he wrote and sang with a raw passion that inspired god knows how many bands that came after.
Anyway, I was reminded of a brief column I had on the entertainment website Pop-break.com on different cities and the music/musicians they produced, called “Music Cities USA.” I never got around to writing about Minneapolis but it would be a prime place to focus on. I mean, its only the birthplace of Prince.
Back to the Replacements though. Their first release was rough around the edges to say the least. Their earlier work was more in the fashion of fellow Twin Cities hardcore punk rockers Husker Du. But their true classics came later: “Let it Be,” which produced my favorite Replacements song, “I Will Dare,” and “Pleased to Meet Me.” Both were much more polished than their early releases, but also a bit more mature. And it doesn’t hurt that “Pleased to Meet Me” includes an ode to the one and only Alex Chilton (RIP).
Oddest songs to come from Minneapolis? “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” the 1941 hit by the Andrews Sisters and “Funkytown” by Lipps Inc., from 1980. Both songs I also hate.
Then there’s Prince. The man. The myth. Supposedly he likes pancakes and is really good at basketball. He’s one of the most popular and famous musicians of modern rock. He was big enough to go by a symbol — A SYMBOL — for several years. And people still respected him (although I imagine many hardcore Prince fans like to forget that period). WTF? But I challenge you to find someone who can’t name at least one Prince song. And who doesn’t love at least one Prince song. Beyond his famous songs and albums, he has an incredibly respected repertoire. Prince isn’t even a chosen moniker, it’s his actual real name. Pretty badass.
He’s also pretty intense about copyright laws, so his presence on YouTube is limited.
On the hip-hop scene, Atmosphere and Brother Ali both rose from the underground to mild success. I remember listening to Atmosphere’s “Guns & Cigarettes” on repeat when I was in college (like 10 years ago). According to the resident rap expert in my house (That would be my husband, in case you thought it was my dog Miko), Brother Ali is albino and possibly diabetic. After pressing for more relevant information, Joel described his music as “conscious rap,” focusing more on politics and moral issues than sex, drugs and misogyny.
So thank you, Minneapolis, for being home to great music. I look forward to seeing what else you have to offer.