Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Justin Townes Earle countrified The Replacements’ “Can’t Hardly Wait”

In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well—some inspired by a weekly theme and some not, but always songs worth hearing. This week, inspired by the new film Take Me To The River, we’re picking songs that share a title with a movie.

As both a fan of the movie Can’t Hardly Wait and The Replacements’ song of the same name, this week’s prompt was a no-brainer for me. But Paul Westerberg and company’s original version of the track isn’t actually my favorite version. Instead, I’m partial to Justin Townes Earle’s 2009 cover, off his excellent Midnight At The Movies LP. (Full disclosure: I was Earle’s publicist for a few years, including for part of this record cycle, so I’m absolutely not an impartial observer, but, still. Believe me. It’s good.) Folky and forlorn, Earle’s style fits perfectly with Westerberg’s reedy cut, and lines like “Jesus rides beside me / He never buys any smokes” ring just as true tempered by Earle’s Nashville twang as they did when they were originally recorded. I love a good alternate genre remake of a song—Sturgill Simpson’s version of When In Rome’s “The Promise” is also aces, while we’re on the subject—and though Earle’s “Can’t” update isn’t exactly honky tonk, it’s a good reminder that, with heartbreaking enough lyrics, any song can get a little countrified.

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