I Will Dare

Album: Let It Be (1984)
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  • U2's "I Will Follow" irritated Replacements frontman Paul Westerberg so badly that he wrote two songs about it. The first was "Kids Don't Follow," the second was "I Will Dare."

    Westerberg saw U2 perform at Uncle Sam's nightclub in Minneapolis in April 1981 on the backend of U2's first international tour. Named the Boy Tour in promotion of the band's first studio album, it started September 6, 1980, and ended June 9, 1981. (Peculiar though insignificant factoid: U2 played another club named Uncle Sam's on that tour - this one in Buffalo, New York, on December 8, 1980.)

    U2 played "I Will Follow" twice the night Westerberg saw them. He appreciated the sound but took umbrage with lyrics he interpreted as a statement about youth in general. This was a misinterpretation on his part because Bono wrote "I Will Follow" for his deceased mother, but Songfacts didn't exist in 1981, so there was no way for him to know that.

    Westerberg immediately wrote "Kids Don't Follow" in response to the show. The song leads off Stink, the 1982 EP they made following their debut album, Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash. He wrote "I Will Dare" a couple years later in 1983 as the Replacements' second studio album, Hootenanny, was being mastered. He felt it was the best song he ever wrote and wanted to get it on the album, but it was too late in the process, so it ended up on their next one, Let It Be.
  • "I Will Dare" has a few layers of meaning. In addition to sniping at Bono, it's a statement about the Replacements themselves. In Trouble Boys: The True Story of the Replacements, Westerberg says, "Part of it has to do with the band: we'll dare to flop, we'll dare to do anything."

    It was also "a kind of love song," according to Westerberg. An unnamed confidant in Trouble Boys says they believe that Westerberg might have been messing around with some ladies that he shouldn't have at the time.

    The timing worked out well because "I Will Dare" wound up being the opening track on Let It Be, the band's 1984 breakthrough album.
  • The words "I will follow" are contained entirely between the titles of the two response songs "I Will Dare" and "Kids Don't Follow," though Westerberg never claimed to have intended this.
  • Westerberg plays mandolin on this song.
  • The Replacements 2017 album For Sale: Live at Maxwell's 1986 includes a performance of "I Will Dare."
  • Peter Buck of R.E.M. hung out with the band during recording of Let it Be. They spent much of the time getting drunk together, but Buck also helped out with the record. The band used Buck's 12-string electric Rickenbacker on the song. Bob Stinson came up with the riff that was played, but he struggled to get out the solo, so Buck did it. Buck based the feel of his performance on Zal Yanovsky of the Loving' Spoonful.

    While Buck's contributions to this song didn't raise any obvious resistance from Stinson, the general direction of Let It Be did. Westerberg's songwriting was tending towards more melodic, accessible songs with no room for Stinson's characteristic thrashing solos. Stinson's resistance to the band's evolution was quiet for now, but a rift had been opened. Two years later, following the release of their next album, Tim (1985), he left the band for good.
  • The Replacements released "I Will Dare" before the rest of Let It Be. The song was wildly popular on college radio stations across the country and got some play on big-city commercial stations. It wasn't enough to crack any charts, but indie music getting mainstream play was rare in those days.

    Part of the song's success was due to its promotion. The Replacements' label, Twin/Tone, was in a significant upward transition. Using money earned after their act The Suburbs took off earlier that year, they moved out of cofounder Paul Starks' basement and into a set of offices in South Minneapolis. They were able to bring in new staff and to devote more time to the business, which led to a proper promotional buildup for the single and its attendant album. It was a new thing for the Replacements.
  • "I Will Dare" remains a favorite for Replacements fans. Many consider it their signature song. It's highly acclaimed among music journalists as well: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame included this song on their 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll list.

Comments: 6

  • Chuckubus from Sf Bay AreaFor Myla in San Diego, I am not sure why this song has to be about an older man and a minor girl. That seems to be how your mind frames it for whatever reason, but remember Paul wrote this as a young man. Even it the man in this song were 25, girls who are 19 seem really young at that age, it’s still a big difference. Or if you are 45 and a girl is 21, still a big difference. Not sure why the man has to be so old and the girl a minor. But it’s your interpretation that impacts you, so if it makes you uncomfortable, don’t sing it!
  • Chuckubus from Sf Bay AreaPeter Buck plays the guitar solo in the middle of the song-confirmed by Bob Mehr’s book, Trouble Boys. Paul plays mandolin, a part which was added later.
  • Myla from San Diego, CaOkay, I thought this was a cool song when I started to listen to the Replacements in the late 80's, but 30 years later, when I occasionally listen to the song, it is sung from the point of view of an older man (still immature) hitting on a much younger minor girl. Not good lyrics to be singing to...any thoughts out there?
  • Andy from Omaha, NeActually, the album credits "Paul on 12-string electric, mandolin; Chris, tambourine; Pete Buck, guitar solo" and you can also hear Bob's original guitar solo track underneath Pete Buck's solo (which is in the middle of the song, not the beginning.) Just wanted to clear that up for the sake of us diehards.
  • Mary from Mpls, MnThe album credits read it was a mandolin solo that Pete Buck opened the song with.
  • Geoff from Dover, Nhpeter buck gets asked about this more than "man on the moon"
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