Whether posing as the poetic but drunk frontman for the post-punk band The Replacements or as a thoughtful and respected singer-songwriter on later solo works like Folker, PAUL WESTERBERG (born 1959) is a master of his craft — an underrated, under-appreciated, undercover overachiever. His lack of blockbuster success, both with the Replacements and without, hasn’t stopped him from writing poignant and primitive pop songs — complete with hooks and verses, choruses and refrains, beginnings, middles, and ends — that with enough booze and sweat could pass for punk. Westerberg’s spirit shines through his songs: a combination of ecstasy and agony, delight and despair, starry-eyed wonder and steel-toed rage. His self-deprecating humor, along with his ability to dive to the depths of the human soul and pull up a tune, have captured a cult following: bands like Wilco, Nirvana, and Green Day have credited him as an influence.
PS: Although nominated this year, the Replacements were not admitted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It’s only fitting; the surviving members wouldn’t have showed up for the ceremony anyway.
On his or her birthday, HiLobrow irregularly pays tribute to one of our high-, low-, no-, or hilobrow heroes. Also born this date: Julie Doucet.
READ MORE about members of the Original Generation X (1954–63).