The Replacements' song "I Can't Hardly Wait" has a special meaning to me. It was the closing track to one of my favorite albums: Pleased to Meet Me. But my connection to the song was solidified back in the summer of 1999, when I said goodbye to my wife and daughter who were soon to be living more than 7,000 miles away from me. The song spoke sadly about being apart, and states "I'll be home when I'm sleeping, I can't hardly wait." That simultaneously made me feel both pain and hope.
Therese, Kalypso and I had been living in Amman Jordan at the American Center for Oriental Research. It was an amazing year. For the first and only time in my life I was able to visit the remarkable countries of Syria and Lebanon. I traveled to Egypt with Kalypso and my birth mom. In Jordan we attended the funeral of King Hussein. I remember Kalypso saying in a crowd "I am so sad that King Hussein died." Many people nearby were touched and came up to see her, and as often happened then, to touch her hair. The nostalgic mood ended when Kalypso said "I get boogers." The magic died. At the close of the my fellowship in June of 1999, Therese and Kalypso were heading back to UCSD in San Diego, and I was heading to south Jordan to excavate Jebel Hamrat Fidan. It was very hard to say goodbye, knowing I would miss Kalypso's 4th birthday and so many other things. I played the song "I Can't Hardly Wait" repeatedly. I cried quite a bit when their taxi drove away.
I've always been a sucker for sad songs about being apart. Songs such as "How I Wish You Were Here" by Pink Floyd, "A Few Hours After This" by The Cure, "Leaving on a Jet Plane" by John Denver, and "Homeward Bound" by Simon and Garfunkel come to mind as some of my favorites.
Today I was surprised and interested to learn that originally the song "I Can't Hardly Wait" was about suicide. The character in the song was going to climb a water tower and jump. So instead of "Can't Hardly Wait" to dream and be with someone he loves, he "Can't Hardly Wait" to be dead. This grim version of the song was left off the album Tim. The change in the lyrics appears to be because the following album Pleased to Meet Me already had a controversial song about jumping off of a building called "The Ledge."
Here's the original version of the song about suicide, it was an outtake from the album Tim. Notice Bob Stinson rocking out on guitar, the song is far less poppy than the later more famous recording:
Finally, here's the homesick version from Pleased to Meet Me. I also learned today that Alex Chilton played guitar on this version. That's cool: