Thursday, July 19, 2012

Can't Hardly Wait

He just can't help himself.

The Replacements famously got themselves forever banned from Saturday Night Live back in January of 1986 for, among other things, being drunk, switching clothes and wearing dresses—in short, being a bit too alternative, before alternative was a good thing, and long before it was again a bad thing. And, sure enough, the second greatest American band never again appeared on SNL. One more self-hammered nail in their coffin.

But Paul Westerberg was allowed to come back after the 'Mats had split and he'd gone solo. The result is one of the greatest filmed performances of his career, as he delivers a brilliant version of one of the greatest of all Replacements songs.

And yet.

Can't Hardly Wait  

Great as it is—and it is; his voice sounds amazing, rough yet accessible, and the way he plays with the melody ever so slightly here and there is just sublime—he cannot help but force himself to fail.

Of this entirely incredible performance, the telltale moment comes at 2:11, when delivering an absolutely astonishing performance to the biggest audience of his career, the band stops and the spotlight is suddenly all his...and he can't do it. He laughs. He literally pulls away from the microphone. But I dunno. I feel like you can see in his eyes that even as he's doing it, he knows what he's doing, he's not happy about what he's doing but by God, he just cannot quite help himself. As the scorpion said, it's his quiddity.

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