Sunday, May 04, 2008

breakdown of a song

For my post today, I was going to write a po-em titled 'They Mean to Bleed Us.' I've already written it, I guess. I was simply going to post it, you could say. Maybe I'll do that tomorrow. But I doubt it.

What I thought I would do instead is breakdown a song I've long admired. It's a song by The Replacements, and it's called 'Can't Hardly Wait'.

The great thing about interpreting someone else's lyrics is that there are no rules; you can make them say what you want them to say. But in this case I'll take my best shot at getting into Paul Westerberg's multi-layered psyche and leave my own twisted dynamics out of it altogether. So what I'll be doing is throwing down the lyrics in italics and then giving you my take on them in parenthesis. Deep breath, let's go!

I'll write you a letter to-morrow
(this time I promise)
tonight/I can't hold a pen
(I've had a few drinkypoos)
someone's got a stamp/that I can borrow
(I am a freeloader)
I promise not to blow the address again
(this time I REALLY promise)
Lights that flash/in the evening
(lightning)
through a crack in the drapes
(on this shitty bus/van I'm stuck in)

Jesus rides beside me
(I'm covered)
he never buys an-y smokes
(He is a freeloader too)
hurry up! hurry up!
(schnell! schnell!)
Ain't you had enough of this stuff?!
(I sure have)
ashtray floors, dirty clothes and filthy jokes
(Being on tour is not as glamorous as you might think).
See you're high and lonesome
(this is how it is)
Try and try and try
(I do)

Lights that flash/in the evening
(lightning)
through a hole in the drapes
(damn van/bus)
I'll be home when I'm sleeping
(we're driving all night long)
I can't hardly wait.
*this is the only lyric that trips me. What do you think? Is he happy to be home? Or is he, in typical Westerbergian fashion, saying one thing and meaning something entirely different? From the lyrics and the way he delivers them, it seems as though he's excited to be coming home (at the time the song was written -- back in the mid-80's, I believe). But the phrasing...normally you'd say, I can hardly wait, not I CAN'T hardly wait. Then again, he did (and, I'm sure, does) like wordplay and this might just be a slightly offbeat way of saying, 'Thank God this tour/recording outing is almost over.'

With Westerberg, you can never really tell. I'm pretty sure he enjoyed being murky and unclear, which is a big part of the reason I like him -- and them (Replacements) -- so much. And, frankly, for a guy who named one of their first compilation discs 'All For Nothing/Nothing For All', well, doesn't that really just kind of say it all?

3 Comments:

Blogger Missy said...

Hardly waaaaaait!

Maybe you could re-interpret the song with him as Archie Bunker's- "Gloria! Gloria!"

Oh Archie!

6:44 PM  
Blogger Just Dan said...

Not bad, Missy. Hm.

Not bad at all..

6:39 PM  
Blogger Just Dan said...

Not bad, Missy. Hm.

Not bad at all..

6:39 PM  

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