If the ideal traits for an audiobook narrator are proven voiceover skills, a certain amount of cachet with the target audience and a familiarity with the subject, then rock biographer Bob Mehr hit the jackpot with the newly available download and CD versions of “Trouble Boys: The True Story of the Replacements.”
None other than Mary Lucia, flagship DJ at 89.3 the Current, was hired for the job of reading the alternately sad, hilarious, inspiring and frustrating biography on Minnesota’s most legendary rock band, published last year to widespread acclaim and a New York Times Bestsellers nod. The veteran Twin Cities jockey is at once both an obvious choice but a surprise recruitment -- obvious because she is one of the most recognized radio voices in the music scene that birthed the Replacements, but surprising since she also happens to be the kid-sister of the band’s frontman, Paul Westerberg.
Lucia has often tastefully downplayed that family tie in her own storied career; you, too, would probably not mention you’re the brother of a Replacement if you're looking for a job in radio and knew some of the war stories revealed in “Trouble Boys.” But she went for it in this case, she said, because “Bob Mehr is a fantastic writer, [and] the band has an incredible story to be told.”
“I knew I was more than capable to do this,” said Lucia, who has done voiceover work since she was 17, “[but] I had no idea how I would feel about some of the passages. … I believe the closeness that I lived with parts of the story helped breed familiarity in tone, just in the same way I was removed from huge parts of their story, it also provided an objectivity in the read.”
For his part, Mehr was thrilled to have Lucia get the job, which he noted was also something of a surprise since “the natural approach to casting this probably would've been to get a middle-aged Midwestern male voice to do it.”
“Even though I spent like ten years working on this, hearing her read the book was like experiencing it for the first time,” said Mehr, also a music critic at the Memphis Commercial-Appeal. “Beyond her vocal talents and acting skills, and her deep understanding of rock and roll, both as myth and fact, having someone who understands the subtle cultural content -- who knows the streets and names and places -- elevates the narration. She just gives the whole production a dimension that no one else could.”