“Merry Go Round” by The Replacements (All Shook Down, 1990)
By the time The Replacements saw fit to release their seventh, and final, album, “All Shook Down”, the band was a group in name only. Paul Westerberg had taken the reigns largely as Tommy Stinson and Chris Mars were being phased out (for better or worse). “Merry-Go-Round”, however, was one of a handful of songs that were true ‘Mats classics.
Featuring one of the catchiest chorus’ the band would ever commit to tape, the song appears to be about a troubled, perhaps even mentally ill, young woman. While it gets overshadowed, seemingly, by the bounciness of the music, the words are pretty unmistakable “And everybody thinks she’s sick, she’s got two worlds she can pick, and she’s sad”. Still, the song is a very sympathetic portrait of the girl they’re singing about.
One thing that has always been fantastic about this one to me in the Replacements catalog is it’s one of the most straight-ahead rock songs they’ve ever done. Musically I’d describe it as ballsy even. The band was known for being difficult, non-commercial and edgy but this song proved to anyone who cared that when the band wanted to just write a simple, great rock song it was definitely capable. While some of their idiosyncrasies still seeped through, it only added to the charming nature of the track as a whole. Also the guitar work really is special throughout with the solo in particular being worthy of mention. As for the girl in the song, one can only hope she found the freedom she sought in her dreams.