(Top Modern Rock Songs Of All Time)
Song: "I'll Be You"
Artist: The Replacements
Release Date: 1989
From the Album: Don't Tell A Soul (1989)
Quick Take: The Replacements' sole "hit" single (it actually reached the middle of Billboard's Hot 100 in the spring of 1989, helped no doubt by the band's first non-sarcastic, non-confrontational video, which got a lot of MTV play), "I'll Be You" is unfortunately at best a second-tier Paul Westerberg song. Although the song has one terrific one-liner ("a rebel without a clue," a line that Tom Petty -- the headlining act on The Replacements' sole national tour on the arena level -- blatantly stole a few years later in "Into the Great Wide Open") and an intriguingly off-kilter structure that doesn't get around to the first chorus until the song is half over, it's much less lyrically incisive than earlier Westerberg masterpieces like "Sixteen Blue" and "Can't Hardly Wait," and the tune isn't one of Westerberg's most memorable, being built on a clanking rhythm guitar riff that lacks both forward motion and melodic invention. Sure, it sounded better than most of what was on MTV in the spring of 1989, but compared to newer, younger, and hungrier bands like, say, the Pixies (whose near-mainstream breakthrough with Doolittle happened around the same time as this single), it was starting to look like The Replacements had missed their moment.