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But he become the American punk-rock poet laureate of the Eighties, reeling off shabbily rousing underdog anthems like "I Will Dare" and "Bastards of Young," as well as beautifully afflicted songs like "Swinging Party" and "Here Comes a Regular." A high-school dropout, Westerberg spoke for a nation of smart, wiseacre misfits, paving the way for Green Day and Nirvana, both of which were led by avowed Replacements fans.

"Westerberg could be barreling along and do 'Tommy Gets His Tonsils Out' or 'Gary's Got a Boner,' and then he could slide into 'Unsatisfied' or 'Sixteen Blue,' says Craig Finn of the Hold Steady.

His 1996 acoustic ballad "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)" has become a standard and a pop cultural touchstone; the Who-scale ambition of 2004's American Idiot made for a rock-opera that remains a totemic response to the Bush era; and Green Day's recent three-album trilogy, Uno! And Armstrong is a punk through and through: the whole band gets songwriting credit on its hugely successful catalog.

Paul Westerberg wasn't precious about his craft ("I hate music/It's got too many notes," he sang on the first Replacements album in 1981).

His best work was charged with literary irony but unfolded with the ease of spoken language, as when the mini-skirted heroine of "Harper Valley P. A." struts into the local junior high and exposes small-town hypocrisy by asking why Mrs."And so I started writing these story songs." A Brooklynite who was equally entranced by R&B and country (claiming his favorite singer was C&W mainstay Tex Ritter), Otis Blackwell began his career with 1953's "Daddy Rollin' Stone," which has been covered repeatedly. And even though Blackwell's own singing career never took off, it's been noted that his vocals on demos of songs that Presley recorded were followed faithfully by the King."At certain tempo, the way Elvis sang was the result of copying Otis' demos," said Blackwell's friend Doc Pomus. Many singer-songwriters reach the point where they have too many great tunes to fit into a live show."So you think this guy was this drunk, punkish dude and all the sudden he's really sensitive and really vulnerable.Because he's got you looking both ways, it's bigger, it hits harder.

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