Friday Song: "The Waiting"

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers' 1981 classic works perfectly for days like these

Friday Song: "The Waiting"

In 1981, when Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers were preparing to release their fourth studio album, Hard Promises, the standard price for a new record was $8.98. Petty and his band were so popular that the record company wanted to tack another dollar onto the sales price, for a $9.98 retail offering.

Petty hated this idea, so he forced the record company to abandon the higher price by threatening to rename the album $8.98.

The album’s first single was “The Waiting.”

Written in D and with a walking tempo of 119 bpm, “The Waiting” is the perfect song for these times, when we’re all waiting for vaccines, normalcy, spring, and any number of other sources of relief and happiness. It also speaks to those who can’t seem to wait — states lifting mask restrictions and indoor dining caps, for instance.

Petty viewed “The Waiting” as “an optimistic song.” It took a long time to write, with the chorus coming long before the rest of the song. Petty got the idea from a television interview with Janis Joplin in which she talked about about waiting for your dreams and not knowing if they will come true, and how the waiting was the hardest part.

The song was used in The Garry Shandling Show, and appeared in an episode of The Simpsons. It has a lovely, rolling chord structure that nicely matches the idea of biding your time.

Petty was a great songwriter — “Refugee” — “American Girl” — “Don’t Do Me Like That” — “Breakdown” — “Runnin’ Down a Dream.” Once you start to explore his songbook, its layers can overwhelm, especially when Mudcrutch and the Traveling Wilburys are included.

“The Waiting” is just one example from Petty’s incredible songwriting talents.


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Bonus song

If you’re a fan of the surprise hit show WandaVision, which concludes today, you know the song “Agatha All Along,” a tune so catchy it briefly topped the iTunes charts after its appearance at the end of Episode 7.

If you’ve listened to the song an embarrassing number of times, and yet you’d still like to watch a rock cover of this great tune, here’s your chance. It’s all performed by Timmy Sean, who posted his version the same day the episode featuring the song premiered.

How’s that for magical talent?

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