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2021 Song Draft- Round 5 Pick 10- Music City Mike selects’ “Can’t Hardly Wait’- The Replacements.

“Can’t Hardly Wait” – The Replacements There are times, when despite the disapproval of the band, a producer gets his way and adds something to a song that really works. Case in point is the 1987 Pleased to Meet Me LP version of The Replacements’ “Can’t Hardly Wait.” The song began as nothing more than a few seemingly unrelated scraps of Paul Westerberg lyrics set to a catchy guitar riff that runs from beginning to end. However, the “Memphisized” horns and strings embellishment added by producer Jim Dickinson simply took this song to another level.

Through the wonder of bonus tracks, we got to hear an earlier version of the song that was originally recorded for 1985’s Tim LP. Guitar driven and faster, this leaner take on the song also had different lyrics. Choosing which version is better is a topic of strong debate among “Mats’” fans, and I know that many will stop reading this piece right now in protest of my selection. But for me, Dickinson’s touch on “Can’t Hardly Wait” was magic. To the contrary, Westerberg was said to have been reluctantly OK with the horns but hated the strings.

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The song’s greatness was later acknowledged by a remarkable arrangement from the late Justin Townes Earle. That iconic guitar riff was well-suited for JT’s fingerpicking style, and he created a cover version that gives this song an acknowledged acoustic alter-ego.

Meet Me was the break-through Replacements’ record for me. It saw the band steer more to a Pop style which made their sound more mature (an awful, but somehow fitting word) and accessible to fans with musical tastes like mine. Still, Paul’s lyrics still found a way to be lovingly snarky and cynical.

“Jesus rides beside me, he never buys any smokes” is just one of the greatest lines ever! It never fails to crack me up, and I go back and forth between picturing either the Son of God or a Hispanic friend of Westerberg’s as the cheap passenger. Outside of this and some silliness about being too wasted to write a letter, that’s about all there is besides the chorus and the repetition of the title near the song’s end. That’s all that was needed.

Some record company person liked the song enough to release it as a single and of course it went nowhere on the charts. “I Can’t Hardly Wait” sure deserved a better fate. I challenge you. Go put it on and after your second listening, if you are sitting still or at least not tapping your feet, go see a doctor.

Oh, and by the way, Westerberg changed his tune a bit and when performing the song on Saturday Night Live in 1993 as a solo artist, he used a horn section! No strings, but I bet this made the late Jim Dickinson smile. ​


  1. Max must be buried in work or else I bet he’d have been the first to comment here on this band! Pretty good song, I think I heard it first on his blog. Seems like the Replacements had spotty coverage… while they didn’t sell a lot, from what I gather they were reasonably big in some cities and missed altogether in others. Where I was, toronto, the alt rock station really only ever played ‘Alex chilton’ by them. I agree with you , btw, horns are really a good addition to this song and the strings fit in fairly unobtrusively.

  2. Great song by a great band Mike… this one should have hit but I can say that about a lot of their songs. They are my favorite alternative band above anyone else.

    • Life isn’t fair- The Replacements were far better than Nirvana–and didn’t have close to the success they deserved. But they were kind of self-destructive…

    • I’d probably agree to that too. Actually, looking back, of the BIG alt-rock bands of the early 90s, my personal feeling is Nirvana are low on the list… even their then-contemporaries like Pearl Jam and Stone temple Pilots put out stuff that was better by and large, and a bit more varied.

    • I wonder- had Kurt Cobain lived- how would it have ended up? His suicide propelled them into legendary status- Nevermind was great -the rest- not bad but hardly great at least in my opinion .

    • In the book…Westerberg went to a psychologist in the mid nineties because of depression…after seeing all of these bands hit so much more than they did yet all being influenced by them…the psychologist didn’t believe him at first until he started to listen to his work…then he agreed totally with him.

  3. I’ve enjoyed listening to this several times before writing anything; the key word being ‘enjoyed’. But I’m going to be the voice of dissent and say I’m not a fan of the horns. Strings enhance it, but I don’t think the horns are the right fit.

  4. I adore this song. The opening guitar riff is my cellphone ringtone. And I’ll come down on the side of loving the horns – really adds something and take a the song from good to great!

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