Matt Berninger appeared as the musical guest on Monday night’s episode of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, where he performed the Velvet Underground classic “I’m Waiting For The Man”. The National frontman was there to promote his debut solo record, Serpentine Prison.
Released back in October, Serpentine Prison was produced by Booker T. Jones—who also played on the album—and saw Berninger work alongside his National bandmate Scott Devendorf as well as other indie notables Walter Martin (The Walkmen) and Hayden.
Following an erroneous introduction from host Jimmy Fallon, who refers to the 1967 track as being off Berninger’s 2020 album, the video cuts to a pre-recorded performance from a studio decorated like the kind of bleak hole-in-the-wall in which one would expect the late Lou Reed to spend his time. Opening up with the classic Velvet Underground angst heard through electric guitar and driving piano, Berninger immediately hits the Reed notes as he sings the song’s titular opening line.
The whole song exudes the same kind of nervous energy found on the Velvet Underground and Nico‘s original recording from their debut album. Though Berninger likely never lived the same rough existence that Reed outlines in the famous junkie lament, he’s still able to tap into that same energy of desperation needed to make this cover authentic.
Watch Matt Berninger cover the Velvet Underground’s “I’m Waiting For The Man” on Fallon.
Matt Berninger – “I’m Waiting For The Man” (The Velvet Underground)