It was 17 years ago this past week when I got into a gold 1980 Chevy Impala to go for a ride someplace with a girl I had just met a day or 2 previous. I had been in that car before (the night we met, actually), but on that trip I had nothing but her on my mind, it was dark, and we ended up spending the night talking (yup, just talking) parked on Nose Hill overlooking the city skyline. I was out of sorts to say the least when 7 AM rolled around and she drove me to work, and so did not get to the routine investigation of the cassette collection I would normally embark on upon entering someone’s car for the first time (esp. a cute girl’s car…). So, when, a couple days later, she had agreed to meet me me again (awesome) and to pick me up (how sweet!), I was presented with the opportunity to peruse her tapes. Very important early on in a relationship to establish what you are dealing with, music-wise, as it could mean the difference between a coffee date followed by a handshake (“seeya – have a nice life!”) and a the start of a full-blown love affair.
Based on the epic first conversation we had in her Impala, I had already sussed out that she was smart (waaay smarter than me) and funny, and the fact that she had agreed to hang out with me again proved that she was patient and kind, too. Pretty good, so far.
I opened up her box of cassettes, and the first title I lay eyes on is The Replacements’ “Pleased to Meet Me”. Incredulous, and fully expecting her to answer, “Oh, some guy left that in here 6 months ago – I should throw it out.”, I still asked (or maybe exclaimed, I can’t remember)- “You’re into the Replacements?” (alternatively, “You’re into the Replacements!!”).
“I LOVE THAT BAND!” she said aloud.
“AND I LOVE YOU!” I said in my head.
I dunno where we were going or what we were doing, but where/whatever it was, the time was spent talking mostly about the ‘Mats in general, and “Pleased to Meet Me” specifically. One thing I have noticed about girls (for the most part) is that they pay far more attention to the words than guys do, and so we spent hours dissecting the lyrics of the record. All the shit Westerberg said that made me laugh, made her laugh (I Don’t Know). The songs that made me curious (“Who is Alex Chilton?”) made her curious. All the deep/dark/poignant stuff (The Ledge, Skyway) affected her the same as me. We talked about how he could be funny/deep/dark/poignant in the same song (Can’t Hardly Wait) and how he was a master of turning a phrase –
“Absolution is out of the question
It makes no sense to apologize
The words… I thought… I brought… I left… behiiiiiiiind
So, never mind”
– and making it sound like life was in the balance when he sang it.
Her favorite line on the whole record was “If you were a pill, I’d take a handful at my will/And I’d knock you back with something sweet and strong”… Pretty much exactly what was going through my brain as I watched this beautiful girl animatedly proclaim her affection for the greatest band of all time.
Seven years later, give or take a few days, we got married.
Ten years after that, give or take a few days, I recorded this version of “Valentine” by the Replacements, for my valentine, Jennifer.
(Click on the Play button beside the song title to launch the music player
or right-click on the link to download it to your computer.)