The National’s Matt Berninger appeared on Monday night’s Tonight Show to perform a cover of the Velvet Underground’s “I’m Waiting for the Man.” (Host Jimmy Fallon erroneously introduced it as a track from Berninger’s debut solo album Serpentine Prison — we wish.)
In the spirited pre-taped performance, Berninger mustered up his best baritone voice to channel Lou Reed’s desperate heroin addict, traveling uptown to Harlem to purchase a $26 bag of the good stuff. It’s not really the type of cover you can imagine the National pulling off, but with his solo band, Berninger does a fantastic job. After all, this isn’t his first Velvet Underground rodeo: In 2016, he dueted with Andrew Bird on Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day,” and he later recorded a cover of The Velvet Underground & Nico’s “European Son” for Serpentine Prison, before deciding to scrap it on collaborator Booker T.’s advice.
Berninger released Serpentine Prison this past October and released I Am Easy to Find with the National in 2019. He also collaborated with singer-songwriter Hannah Georgas on a duet version of her new song “Pray It Away,” which was co-written and produced by the National’s Aaron Dessner. Earlier this fall, he performed the Serpentine Prison single “One More Second” on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.