In Hear This, The A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well. This week: In honor of South By Southwest, we’re picking our favorite songs about the music industry.
The Replacements, “Treatment Bound” (1983)
“Treatment Bound” wasn’t the only song The Replacements wrote about being on tour: They would perfect the genre in “Can’t Hardly Wait” off of 1987’s Pleased To Meet Me. But those ashtray floors and filthy jokes were front and center on “Treatment Bound,” the closer to the band’s earlier Twin/Tone release, Hootenanny. The record showed definitive glimpses of future ’Mats greatness (“Color Me Impressed,” “Within Your Reach”). But it also started out with the title track, in which all the ’Mats sloppily switched instruments, and ended with “Treatment Bound,” which knocks over some beer bottles for a finale.
That clink of the beer bottles, though, helps put us right in the ’Mats’ scruffy mindset. Possibly no lyric for the band was ever truer than “We’re getting no place / Fast as we can.” This “recorded in the basement” track (according to the liner notes) describes the band’s unglamorous tour from “Duluth to Madison”: a series of drunken escapades, with “No money in sight / Label wants a hit / And we don’t give a shit.” The scrappy acoustic guitar and some primitive percussion bring you to the depths of that basement with the band, as they thumb their collective noses at the outfit that’s putting out the very record they’re recording.
The Replacements, of course, would springboard off of Hootenanny—which is a blast-and-a-half in its own unvarnished way—to record the classic Let It Be for Twin/Tone, before moving to Sire with Tim. That Pleased To Meet Me release, while still a great record, found a more polished band who now did appear to give a shit about giving the label a hit, and only more so on its next two (and final two) releases. But back in ’83, this track captured the brattiest version of The Replacements, on the road, town to town, unconcerned with “mass appeal”—but still at a crossroads, as the song’s (and the album’s) last lyric is “What do we do now?” Lest that final plaintive question seem too dire, the song unravels at the end, when “Scotty” doesn’t take it after “Take it, Scotty,” the bottles fall over, and teenaged Tommy Stinson calls out about a part in the chorus. Paul Westerberg ends the ’Mats’ second album with a chuckle and deeply drawls, “Fucked ’em up”: a fitting, final coda.