O TIME, THY PYRAMIDS – once again, I bring you this MUST LIST:
1) Rookie Yearbook One. Okay, guys, this marks a first in MUST LIST history: I have never before used the immense influence of this hallowed list to shill for something of which I am a (small) part, but I have to put that aside to let you know about this amazing thing that’s happening, like, next week. On September 4, Rookie’s first book is coming out and I’m all over the place with excitement about it. It will include a pop-out Meadham Kirchhoff crown (gonna wear it everywhere, sorry), a Dum Dum Girls flexi-disc, and the kind of QUALITY-ASS writing and artwork you’ve come to expect from ROOKIE MAG DOT COM. Pre-order your copy today!! (Imagine this said in my best infomercial voice, with Billy Mays-style fists brought close to the chest for emphasis [ooh, I just linked to one of my own Rookie articles while big-upping the Rookie book. SELF-REFLEXIVE SELF-PROMOTION! I mean, really now.]).
2) The demo version of “Can’t Hardly Wait” by the Replacements
I’ve been listening to this song a minimum of five times a day (though it mostly just plays near-constantly) for the past three weeks or so, and it means more to me each time I do. I first heard the studio version of “Can’t Hardly Wait,” which appeared on the mostly subpar Replacements album Pleased to Meet Me, in about 2006 (or when I was fifteen, for reference). It stuck with me immediately, although I didn’t yet know any of the band’s other work. I wouldn’t until I found Let it Be and Tim, the latter of which is my favorite album of all time, in 2009. These albums sounded waaay different from the slickly-polished, horn-laden “Can’t Hardly Wait,” which had previously been the only Replacements song I knew. They were everything I wanted – the songs were screaming, drunken, furious, hurt, and questioning, but what made them so special is that they were always unfathomably TENDER. Plus also the guitar lines blew my world apart. Tim slays me every time I hear it, so I choose to hear it a lot.
Earlier this year, I realized that there HAD to be other music out there that was at least somewhat comparable to the album, style-wise. There isn’t, and if you’re about to recommend the Faces to me, don’t you even dare START with me right now. I’ve had it with you people. So I gave up on that search and decided to try a different tack: Since there wasn’t anything else like Tim, I just had to unearth more of it. I YouTubed my fingers to the bone searching for deep cuts: “the replacements live 86,” “the replacements demo,” “the replacements unreleased,” you get the picture. I found this song and fell in rabid love. It suddenly made sense why I adored “Can’t Hardly Wait” so much while hating the most of the other songs on PTMM: It had been written and recorded for Tim originally, which is important for two reasons: A) it was the last album on which the amazing Bob Stinson played guitar for the band and B) Paul Westerberg, the heart and head of the Replacements, was still really into screaming about wanting to die, which changed when the band started making more commercial albums. Both of these elements really agree with me. Although the structure remained the same on the PTMM version, this version is clearly superior because, like all the best Replacements songs, it’s raw and sad and earnest enough to make me want to get in a romantic fistfight, or storm out of a bar without speaking to anyone, knocking over a stool on my way to the door, or climb to the top of a scummy water tower, screaming, “I can’t wait ’til it’s over.” Uh, these are totally good things, I promise.
In closing, you can’t even imagine the lip-curling body-thrash move I do at 2:22 when I’m dancing to this song in my bedroom. It looks really tough, you guys! Especially if I’m doing it in my headphones shaped like fuzzy tiger ears!
3) “Palm Sunday,” Frederick Seidel
I’m very late on this, but Frederick Seidel’s poem in the August issue of Harper’s proves, like all his other poems, that his mind is one of unparalleled beauty. Read it out loud and try not to interrupt yourself with exclamations of joy and disbelief. I love this man so much.
4) Broadway Sizzle
I endlessly loathe Broadway and musicals, which is exactly why I take such delight in parodies of musical theater culture. Tim and Eric are particularly great at this, but my reigning favorite example is Will Ferrell as John Timberly-Crisp in this sketch from the last season of SNL. Look at that funky little hat! I diiiieeeee. I’ve been saying, “Where’s my durned head?” so much recently and cracking myself up in otherwise normal conversations. Please watch this amazing sketch and get in on the joke so I can stop looking like such a goddamned crazy person whenever I open my mouth.