I Have Always Loved You

Portland set list.

Portland set list.


It’s been a while.

By now, you’ve probably accepted the fact that the boys are not recording, nor even touring again.

Like many of you, I was bummed for a while there, too.

To replace The Replacements, I resigned myself to YouTube. I found old live ’Mats footage, soaked up rare B-sides and tried to watch every interview I hadn’t seen before.

None of it filled the void.

You see, there’s something about a live show. The wait, the anticipation, the crowd, the NOISE. Anything can happen.

So when a friend offered to take me to see Stiff Little Fingers in late July, I said, “OK, they’re not the ’Mats, but what the hell.” I’ve always loved Inflammable Material, and “Alternative Ulster” still knocks me out.

My friend and I hadn’t seen each other since March—before my birthday and the ’Mats Portland show, both in April. So we caught up before the show at her place.

“Oh, I’ve got something for you,” she said. “A belated birthday gift, hang on.” She leaves the living room then returns with a small canvas bag. “Here you go, happy belated birthday!”

I smile as she hands it to me (the bag has a cat face and the words “Cat Lady” printed on it). “See, it reminded me of you! Open it!” She looks at her boyfriend across the room, who shoots her a big smile.

I unzip the pouch. A folded piece of paper is inside. It’s quite wrinkled, longer than letter size. As I unfold it, I notice the paper is edged with really thick black tape all around. Something small and square falls to the floor. I pick it up.

Completely unfolded now, I look at the white duct tape-edged paper…

“Within Reach.”

“Bastards.”

“Portland.”

… then the square thing… and it hits me…

“IT’S THE SET LIST!” I screamed. “AND A VIP PASS FROM THE PORTLAND SHOW!!!!!”

I instantly felt like that 15-year-old girl who saw The Replacements for the first time. I couldn’t stop looking at the set list—I just stared at it, then back at my friends.

Everyone started laughing.

“Yeah, I saw your Instagram a while after the show, about how you loved the band since high school and thought you should have it,” her boyfriend said. He was a tech that night for the venue, Crystal Ballroom. “It was Paul Westerberg’s set list.”

I couldn’t stop saying thank you.

Why?

Kindness. Generosity. Authenticity.

I see these qualities in the ’Mats fans I know personally, and those I’ve become friends with online. They’re real people who help each other out. It’s just what you do, right?

So while we may not have another Replacements tour, or a new album, we do have each other.

Here’s to a great band AND a great group of fans.

The daughters and the sons!”

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