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Ace of Records: “CAN’T HARDLY WAIT”

By Jessie Lynn

The Replacements – “Can’t Hardly Wait” (Tim version)
I’ll be there in an hour. It’d take half a month there on foot. Watering hole, scummy water tower. Said I’ll avoid, if I could. I’ll be sad in heaven; you won’t follow me there.

“Can’t Hardly Wait” has such an ache in it that it makes me wanna scream; the Tim version has an ache even more raw and ragged than the Pleased To Meet Me Version.

It’s the ache of waiting for love, for friends, for home, for hope. It’s the rust belt ache of living in a cold, decaying nowhere city.

It’s the ache of feeling like the world is passing you by.

It’s the ache of watching the sun set on the horizon, a horizon that you’ll never reach.

Jesus rides beside me, and never buys any smokes. Hurry up, hurry up, I’ve got enough of this stuff. Ashtray floors, dirty clothes, filthy jokes.

“I realized today that I am such a small-town punk,” I wrote in my journal, thirteen years ago. “I hang out at skate parks, I smoke cigarettes in mall parking lots, I travel to shows with the rare kindred souls I can find, I see the beauty in oil puddles. This is my life.”

Since then, I’ve lived in a few different big cities, but that didn’t take away who I was at the core, and the core of me has always been this punk kid who grew up in suburbs and mid-sized midwestern towns. Us suburban and smaller-town punks get shit from punks that grew up in more urban environments. They wonder what we have to fight against, what we have to be angry about. We have a lot to fight against. So do they, it’s just different stuff. I won’t tell you what big city punks have to fight against, cos I didn’t grow up as one. Small town and suburban punks have to fight against a multitude of things, not the least of which is the very act of trying to be different, trying to be yourself, in an environment that wants to whitewash everyone’s differences and make us all the same types of people, with the same likes and dislikes, the same jobs, the same quaint houses and manicured lawns.

“Can’t Hardly Wait” has that ache in it, too. It does for me, anyway. I don’t know what aches Paul Westerberg was feeling when he wrote it, I only know the ones that I heard the first time I listened to it, and the ones I hear when I listen to it, now.

Lights that flash in the evening – I guess we’ll follow them there.

I used to get so crazy sometimes, sitting with my Kenowhere friends at the same diner (or, later on, the same bar) every damn night. I would get so anxious, so itchy, to do anything to break free from the routine, that I’d leave the diner and take off running. I’d run out to the end of the pier, out to where the tiny lighthouse was, and I’d scale it. It didn’t matter that it was covered in spiders and seagull shit; I didn’t mind when, on chillier nights, the wind off Lake Michigan made my cheeks sting and my ears hurt. The spiders and shit and wind were part of it, so was the ache in my leg muscles from climbing the lighthouse.

All of it reminded me that I was alive. I’d climb the lighthouse and perch as near to the top as I could, and then I’d scream at the top of my lungs. “WAKE UP!” I’d scream, and I was screaming it to myself as much as to anyone else, so it didn’t matter that the words got lost on the wind.

I’ll be sad in heaven, if I don’t find a hole in the gate. Climb on to the top of this scummy water tower, screamin’: I can’t hardly wait. I can’t wait…’til it’s over.

“Can’t Hardly Wait” is a song with an ache, and a song about waiting. It’s a song about the ache of waiting, and in my younger days, I did a lot of that. I waited to move to a bigger city, where there was more cool stuff happening. I waited to find a job, and then I found a job, and I waited for my shift to end so I could go to that diner and see my friends. I waited to have some big epiphany about what the fuck I was gonna do with my life. I waited for my life to start.

I wasted a lot of time with all that waiting, when I should have been appreciating the here-and-now. Now, I try to live my life as it comes, rather than waiting for an imaginary future moment. I’ll climb to the top of the scummy lighthouse, screaming at myself to wake up, reminding myself that I’m still the ‘cool girl with the zine’ who goes to as many shows as I can. I hang out at skate parks, I drink coffee in diners, I see the beauty in oil puddles.

This is my life.

This piece also appears in my most recent zine, Reckless Chants #19. If you enjoyed it and would like to read other pieces about music and my misspent youth, please consider buying the zine:

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