More on loving music: Can’t Hardly Wait

Yesterday I twittered out a pretty unvarnished sentiment about my love for music:

 

I was delighted by all the “@” responses I got – I ain’t alone.

One of the reasons I shot that tweet out was because I was – after a long day of meetings and travel – so very excited to listen to some of the new jazz records I’ve recently been obsessed over.

What I like about them is that these records are endlessly fascinating to me. I don’t feel like I can sort of figure them out on first listen in the same way as I – rightly or wrongly – do with so much non-jazz stuff these days.

Well, thanks to Aquarium Drunkard, I had a recent reminder that it ain’t all (that) jazz that is so easily understood.

AD recently did an amazing piece on one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite bands: The Replacements’ “I Can’t Hardly Wait.

It’s a song I’ve loved forever, and thought I had pretty well figured out. In my mind, it was a song about coming home (“I’ll be home when I’m sleeping”/”I can’t hardly wait”) after being away from someone you (maybe) miss (“I’ll write you a letter tomorrow”/”Tonight I can’t hold my pen”/”Someone’s gotta stamp I can borrow”/”I promise not to blow the address again”).

However, after listening to the earlier versions, it’s pretty clear the song – at least in its earlier incarnations – is about suicide. In this sense, one of my favorite lyrics from the song (“Jesus rides beside me”/”He never buys any smokes”) sort of takes on a different meaning. Other elements – in particular, the reference to the “water tower” – in these earlier versions also push the song in that direction.

In any case, it’s a testament to the nuance of Westerberg’s writing. While not a jazz composition, the variations of this song have the same mystery and heft that all great songs – irrespective of genre – do.

Of course, another reason I love music is because of the internal references that it creates. I’ve read that the reason we so strongly associate smells with memories is because the olfactory gland is right next to the part of the brain that controls memory (I have no idea if that’s true). If so, the gland (or whatever) that deals with music must be right there beside these things.

To wit, I can’t even write the word “water tower” without thinking of another song that has the same, uh, heft as great jazz songs: REM’s “Time after Time.” This song, one of their best and most under-rated, is, I believe, about suicide:

Ask the girl of the hour by the water tower’s watch/
If your friends took a fall, are your obligated to follow?

Maybe not, but to me it always has been. So, upon hearing “Can’t Hardly Wait” with a reference to a water tower…well.

Lots of rambling here. What else, however has this power? I guess all art. I can see geeking out like this over the inter-connectedness of Faulkner, for instance. For now, though, it’s music.

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  1. MyNameIsJM’s avatar

    Thanks for posting this. I share a great deal of these same sentiments. There's such an unspeakable “I am who am” thing that comes with the art that grabs you. Thanks for showing that others feel similarly to the way that I feel sometimes.

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  2. richardz315’s avatar

    wow i really found this to be an interesting read; thanks for sharing

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  3. offline42’s avatar

    I just can't imagine the world without music, and if I do have a hint on what it is like I'm pretty sure it is boring

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  4. Acoustic’s avatar

    life without music like flower without color. there is very few music which we like to listen again and again. yhanks for sharing.

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  5. Reglan’s avatar

    Lots of rambling here. What else, however has this power? I guess all art. I can see geeking out like this over the inter-connectedness of Faulkner, for instance. For now, though, it’s music.

    Reply

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    life without music like flower without color. there is very few music which we like to listen again and again. yhanks for sharing.

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