Replacements – Johnny’s Gonna Die

Johnny always needs more than he takes
Forgets a couple of chords, forgets a couple of breaks
And everybody tells me that Johnny is hot
Johnny needs something, what he ain’t got

Almost anything off of a Replacements album is going to be an album cut. This one is off of their debut album Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash. The album was released on the small  Minneapolis, Minnesota label Twin Tone in 1981.

I listened to them in the mid 80s but lost touch until recently. I’m going through all of their albums so I will be post some from every album coming up. I never knew their first album too much but I like it a lot. It’s punkish, rock, raw,  with some great lyrics by Paul Westerberg. On this one Bob Stinson’s guitar playing feels like it may break down at anytime but stays on course and I love what he plays.

This song is about punk guitarist Johnny Thunders (John Anthony Genzale) who was a founding member of the New York Dolls. He also played with the punk band The Heartbreakers. He was in Minneapolis in 1980 with his  band Gang War playing in a bar. The Replacements desperately wanted to open, but were beat out for the gig by Hüsker Dü.

He was physically struggling through the show, while battling an audience hurling objects, Thunders had been rendered a prisoner of his own addictions and cult infamy.  Westerberg was in the audience and wrote this song about him.

You don’t see this happen everyday…I mean writing about “Johnny’s Gonna Die” when the guy is alive. Thunders did live a little longer…he died in 1991.

Paul Westerberg on watching Johnny Thunders: “He was frightening and beautiful and mean at the same time,” he said. “Like a child.”

“When Johnny was playing, it looked like he was walking dead, It was pitiful, like watching a guy in a cage.”

Johnny’s Gonna Die

Johnny always takes more than he needs
Knows a couple chords, knows a couple leads
Johnny always needs more than he takes
Forgets a couple of chords, forgets a couple of breaks
And everybody tells me Johnny is hot
Johnny needs something that he ain’t got

And Johnny’s gonna die
Johnny’s gonna die
Johnny’s gonna die

Everybody stares and everybody hoots
Johnny always needs more than he shoots
Standing by a beach and there ain’t no lake
He’s got friends without no guts, friends that never ache
In New York City, I guess it’s cool when it’s dark
There’s one sure way Johnny you can leave your mark

And Johnny’s gonna die
Johnny’s gonna die
Johnny’s gonna die

Author: badfinger20 (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

26 thoughts on “Replacements – Johnny’s Gonna Die”

  1. I just read that rumors surround Thunders’ death at the St. Peter House in New Orleans, Louisiana on April 23, 1991. He apparently died of drug-related causes, but it has been speculated that it was the result of foul play. According to his biography Lobotomy: Surviving The Ramones, Dee Dee Ramone took a call in New York City the next day from Stevie Klasson, Johnny’s rhythm guitar player. Ramone said, “They told me that Johnny had gotten mixed up with some bastards… who ripped him off for his methadone supply. They had given him LSD and then murdered him. He had gotten a pretty large supply of methadone in England, so he could travel and stay away from those creeps – the drug dealers, Thunders imitators, and losers like that.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I like their first two albums- but have always found them kind of spotty- thought they hit their peak with the middle three albums. The last two seem more like Paul W. solo albums but still like them. My two favorites from Sorry Ma- would be this one- and Shiftless When Idle… gotta love The Replacements!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a great one–from my perspective, anyway. I love The Replacements. I love this song in particular. And I love The New York Dolls. I got to see David Johansen Group in the early 80s. They opened for either Pat Benatar or Foreigner…I can’t remember which, but they were great. Very theatrical, especially David Johansen, of course. I never had the privilege of seeing The New York Dolls with or without Johnny Thunders, unfortunately.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve always liked David Johnansen…I like the persona he built with the Dolls…and I loved him in Scrooged..

      I’m glad you like the Replacements…I will have quite a bit of them coming.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. they were a good return to the basics rock band… I generally like what I hear by them, but that is not a whole lot. Funny thing, you grew up listening to them in 80s, I tended to listen to that other , equally obscure Minneapolis underground rock outfit Husker du a lot back then.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They were rivals at the time… completely different though as personalities.
      You will be hearing more as the weeks go by. I’m also reading the Bob Mehr book about them at the same time as going through the albums. I tend to like their slower stuff the most but I found a few rockers I like.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Looking forward to learning more about The Replacements. That is unusual they would sing about someone still alive saying they are going to die. They could see the writing on the wall, I guess, just like The Rolling Stones could see with Brian.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m reading a book about them by Bob Mehr… Lisa…you could imagine how many bios of rock bands I’ve read…NONE are like these guys. All of them had their own problems but whew…a wild bunch but now I know why with some of them.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh yes….I did with that last one. The reason I haven’t written more is because there is not much on them…well their songs on the internet…the book will help a lot.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh yeah, no pretenders there. Loved everything about them. A little self destructive. Probably in hindsight they might wish they had someone taking care of the business side. Anyone with a bit of smarts to protect them from themselves.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. They have a totally loyal following…hell Keith Moon would have been proud of some of the stuff they pulled…always with a sense of humor. Yea it’s both sad and funny.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Like we talked about before. The line gets crossed and then it gets into a whole different thing. Sooner or later you gotta put the drugs and booze down especially when you are out of control. Too bad they could of shook themselves lose and found the next stage.

        Liked by 1 person

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