Album: Live at Maxwell’s 1986
. . .
From their earliest days, covers were a key of the Replacements aesthetic. Hell, as everybody knows, they stuck a KISS cover right in the middle of Let It Be. And while that was the only cover they ever put on an album (until Songs For Slim, which was all covers), any Replacements show worth its salt had more than one cover, and the show documented in For Sale: Live At Maxwell’s 1986 had five: an aborted take on Sweet’s immortal “Fox on the Run;” the aforementioned “Black Diamond;” plus T. Rex’s “Baby Strange,” The Beatles “Nowhere Man” and the cheesy pop goodness of Vanity Fare’s 1970 top 5 single, “Hitchin’ A Ride.”
And sure, I would have loved a full-out version of “Fox on The Run,” it wasn’t going to happen in this show, and while the Beatles and T. Rex covers are fine — and “Black Diamond” is “Black Diamond” — you cover the Beatles and T. Rex at your peril. So, the one that I’m glad I got to hear was “Hitchin A Ride,” as it played right into the ‘Mats longstanding tradition of covering AM songs from their childhoods. (OK, not Tommy’s childhood.)
A thumb goes up, a car goes by
It’s nearly one A.M. and here am I
Hitchin’ a ride, hitchin’ a ride
Gotta get me home before the morning light
A flute-driven song about a hippie accepting rides from strangers on their way home to see their baby (and “keep her satisfied”), “Hitchin’ A Ride” really didn’t age all that well, and by the mid-1980s, the thought of accepting rides from total strangers seemed just . . . weird, which probably added a level of irony to what was actually a pretty faithful cover, though they didn’t bother with the instrumental section in the middle.
Of course, now, the irony had doubled back upon itself, as — well at least before the plague — we accept app-mitigated rides from total strangers all of the time, so I’m guessing that somebody could have had a hit by changing the lyrics slightly (“I mash my app / a car comes by / Lyfting a ride”) and doing it over some contemporary beats.
Anyways, with Bob playing the flute riff on his guitar and Paul straining to hit a melody line that was sung by a bunch of studio-enhanced English dudes, “Hitchin’ a Ride” is a combination of utterly inconsequential and great fun, the highlight coming when Paul gets to the “Ride, ride, ride, hitchin’ a ride” part with Chris Mars double-timing behind him.
It’s great good fun, typical end-of-the-set-when-the-beer-has-fully-kicked-in garbage time, except that’s it’s clearly not garbage at all: there doesn’t seem to be any irony involved, and that’s why it’s one of my favorite covers they ever did.
“Hitchin’ a Ride (Maxwell’s 1986)”
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