“I grew up with six brothers. That’s how I learned to dance — waiting for the bathroom.”
— Bob Hope
Patience has never been a strong suit of rock fans. So it’s natural that there would be huge hits about waiting: Waiting for a girl, waiting for a boy, waiting for a friend or in Lou Reed‘s case, waiting for a drug dealer.
Here are our Top 11 Waiting Songs. Have we left out any of your favorites? Let us know in the Comments below. We’ll be sitting here waiting.
- Patience by Guns N’ Roses
Patience is a rare acoustic track on the Guns N’ Roses LP Lies that features lead vocals and a whistling intro by Axl Rose. Guitarist Izzy Stradlin wrote lyrics that include, “If I can’t have you right now I’ll wait, dear.”
“The whistle part at the beginning — a ballsy move by Axl — while seeming odd to some of our fans and critics alike when the record Lies was released, became a part of pop culture,” wrote bassist Duff McKagan in the Seattle Weekly. “The song just wouldn’t be the song without it, right?”
“One reason the song was written was about needing patience and about having the lack of it,” Rose stated in an interview in 1989. “I don’t have any patience now, same way basically for everybody else in the band. It just depresses us because we go, ‘Man, we thought we were getting closer to finding some peace of mind. We’re farther from it than we’ve ever been.’ Or at least that’s the way it seems.”
Patience by Guns N’ Roses
- Waiting for the Man by Velvet Underground
The Velvet Underground was formed in 1965 on New York’s Lower East Side. Lou Reed often crashed at John Cale‘s Ludlow Street loft, where they recorded a demo that became their influential debut LP. “We rehearsed, we experimented, and the six songs we taped in the apartment in July ’65 on our Wollensak recorder wound up being the basis for our first album in ’67, —The Velvet Underground & Nico,” Cale told the Wall Street Journal.
One of those songs was I’m Waiting for the Man, Reed’s tale of a junkie’s ride to Harlem to score $26 worth of heroin from “the man,” a drug dealer. “Everything about that song holds true,” Reed later said in Rolling Stone. “Except the price.”
Waiting for the Man by Velvet Underground
- You Can’t Hurry Love by the Supremes and Phil Collins
The Supremes‘ 1966 single You Can’t Hurry Love was one of a string of No. 1 hits written and produced by Motown’s Lamont Dozier and brothers Brian and Eddie Holland. The song was inspired by the gospel tune (You Can’t Hurry God) He’s Right on Time. “It was a gospel thing that Brian came up with,” Dozier told Performing Songwriter. “He wrote the melody, and Eddie got the title. It’s a term our grandparents used. In other words, don’t rush things, you’re so young. It’s really a double meaning, though. We used love, but we were really saying to take your time, feel your direction, find out where you’re going, study the terrain more before you dash off into an unknown place. You can’t hurry anything.”
In 1982 Phil Collins reached the Top 10 with his version of the song, which he produced with Hugh Padgham. “The idea of doing Can’t Hurry Love was to see if Hugh Padgham and I could duplicate that Sixties sound,” Collins explained in Hitmen magazine. “It’s very difficult today because most recording facilities are so much more sophisticated than they were back then. It’s therefore hard to make the drums sound as rough as they did on the original. That’s what we were going after, a remake, not an interpretation, but a remake.”
You Can’t Hurry Love by the Supremes
You Can’t Hurry Love by Phil Collins
- Wouldn’t It Be Nice by the Beach Boys
The Beach Boys‘ Wouldn’t It Be Nice is the lament of a young couple forced to wait until they’re older to get married. The song opened the classic Pet Sounds LP and reached No. 8 on the charts. Brian Wilson composed the music and the lyrics were largely written by Tony Asher.
The recording sessions were especially tedious. It required 21 takes to finish the instrumental tracks. “Listen for the rockin’ accordions and the ethereal guitars in the introduction,” Wilson wrote in the notes for The Pet Sounds Sessions box set. “Tony and I had visualized a scene. We had a feeling in our hearts, like a vibration. We put it into music, and it found its way onto tape. We really felt good about that record.”
“I’ll never forget just how much a slave driver Brian was when he produced the session,” added Mike Love. “We did upwards of 30 takes on just one section of backgrounds for Wouldn’t It Be Nice. About the 20th take, frustrated by what seemed the zillionth attempt to get the sound he was looking for, I started calling Brian ‘dog ears’ (with affection). They say dogs can hear sounds that humans cannot and I swear Brian must have been part canine because he was reaching for something intangible, imperceptible to most, and all but impossible to execute.”
Wouldn’t It Be Nice by the Beach Boys
- Tired of Waiting for You by the Kinks
By early 1965 the Kinks were looking for a hit single to follow You Really Got Me and the similar-sounding All Day and All of the Night. To break out of the rut, the band recorded Tired of Waiting for You, an uncharacteristic ballad. “Tired of Waiting for You was written when I was 15,” Ray Davies said on YouTube. “It had no lyrics to speak of on the track but I hadn’t really formulated them in my head because it was written as an instrumental. So I said I had a sore throat, could I come back the next day to record it? And overnight I wrote the lyrics, wrote them on the Tube coming in to the studio.”
“That was the first hit ballad — ‘hit ballad,’ that sounds really weird — that we ever had,” guitarist Dave Davies told Guitar magazine. “We recorded it, but it didn’t sound right. The guitar parts weren’t strong enough. So I went in and put the heavier rhythm guitar part on last, after it was finished.”
“It was a change of style for us, we got a bit posher!” Dave told NME. “Our material started to get a bit more melodic after that.”
Tired of Waiting for You by the Kinks
- Waiting for a Girl Like You by Foreigner
Foreigner already had a reputation as hard rockers with hits like Double Vision and Urgent when they released the ballad Waiting for a Girl Like You in 1982. The Top 10 hit was written by singer Lou Gramm and guitarist Mick Jones. In Jukebox Hero: My Five Decades in Rock ‘n’ Roll, Gramm explained that as he recorded the song, he was inspired by a “mystery woman” in the control room.
“I couldn’t take my eyes off her because she was so stunning. I began serenading her as if she were the girl I’d been waiting for all my life. I gave it my all for about 45 minutes, and just as I finished my final take, she smiled at me, waved good-bye, and walked out of the control room … To this day I have no idea who she was. All I know is that she inspired me to hit all the right notes for that ballad. I have never sung that song better than I did that day.”
The song became a highlight of their concerts. “We would build a set around it and make sure the song was played at the right time, coming off a real hard rocker,” Gramm told Songfacts. “Because we would rock right up to it and then we’d just shift gears and slow down into that ethereal keyboard swirl. As soon as the audience would hear it, they would start cheering before we even played a note.”
Waiting for a Girl Like You by Foreigner
- Wait by the Beatles
In early 1965 the Beatles were filming Help! in the Bahamas when Paul McCartney wrote Wait. The song was recorded in June 1965 for inclusion in the film’s soundtrack but was replaced with Dizzy Miss Lizzy, a hard rocker better suited to close the album.
McCartney remembered writing the song while spending time with actor Brandon de Wilde, a member of Peter Fonda‘s group of Hollywood stoners. “He was a nice guy who was fascinated by what we did,” McCartney recalled in Many Years From Now. “A sort of Brat Pack actor. We chatted endlessly, and I seem to remember writing Wait in front of him, and him being interested to see it being written.”
Later in ’65 the Beatles found themselves one song short while producing the Rubber Soul LP. Wait was pulled from the shelf to fill the gap. An additional guitar, percussion and vocals by McCartney were added to complete the track and better blend with the rest of Rubber Soul.
Wait by the Beatles
- In the Midnight Hour by Wilson Pickett
Wilson Pickett released In the Midnight Hour in 1965, a hit on both the pop and R&B charts. Pickett famously promises to “wait ’til the midnight hour / That’s when my love comes tumbling down.” Pickett recorded the song in Memphis backed by members of the Stax studio band: guitarist Steve Cropper, bassist Donald “Duck” Dunn and keyboardist Isaac Hayes. Songwriting credit goes to Pickett and Cropper but Pickett, who died in 2006, maintained that he alone wrote the tune.
“One thing I had to do was share the song with Steve Cropper,” Pickett told Blues On Stage in 1999. “Because he had the band. I wanted to get on the map. It’s kind of sad that they would take full credit for what you do but that happened a lot […] Why take something that don’t belong to you? It kind of hurt me in a way, you know.”
“He’s completely crazy,” Cropper told journalist Dean Goodman in 1994. “That’s absolute bullshit that I shouldn’t get credited for it. What can I say? He did not write that music. He had nothing to do with writing that music. That’s absolute crap.”
In the Midnight Hour by Wilson Pickett
In the Midnight Hour by Wilson Pickett and Bruce Springsteen at the 1999 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductions
- Waiting on a Friend by the Rolling Stones
Waiting on a Friend was one of the songs on the Stones‘ 1981 Tattoo You LP that was started years before and then shelved. Recorded in 1972 during the Goats Head Soup sessions when guitarist Mick Taylor was still a band member, the song reached No. 13. “We all liked it at the time but we didn’t have any lyrics, so there we were,” Jagger wrote in the liner notes of Jump Back. “The lyric I added is very gentle and loving, about friendships in the band.”
The song featured a solo by legendary jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins, though drummer Charlie Watts‘ doubted it would ever take place. “I had a lot of trepidation about working with Sonny Rollins,” Jagger said in Musician magazine. “This guy’s a giant of the saxophone. Charlie said, ‘He’s never going to want to play on a Rolling Stones record!’ I said, ‘Yes he is going to want to.’ And he did and he was wonderful. I said, ‘Would you like me to stay out there in the studio?’ He said, ‘Yeah, you tell me where you want me to play and dance the part out.’ So I did that. And that’s very important: communication in hand, dance, whatever. You don’t have to do a whole ballet, but sometimes that movement of the shoulder tells the guy to kick in on the beat.”
Waiting on a Friend by the Rolling Stones
- Anticipation by Carly Simon
Anticipation was written by Carly Simon and became the title song of her 1971 LP. “I remember when I was writing it, I was in a very nervous state,” Simon said on NPR. “I was sitting on the edge of my bed and I was waiting for a gentleman caller, who was then called Cat Stevens, and I was opening the show for him. And we began to be friends outside the world of show business. And I was so nervous about his arriving at the door that I wasn’t living in the moment. And so, I wrote the song called Anticipation, which is about the fact that anticipation makes you late, it keeps you waiting.”
In 2009 Simon released Never Been Gone, an album with new versions of her past hits that included Anticipation. “Obviously, times have changed and years have gone on between the time that you first wrote them. And obviously, what you said then has new meaning now, such as in the song Anticipation, when I say these are the good old days. What I meant when I was 26 is quite different than what I mean now when, you know, I had no idea it would. Because when you’re young, you have no idea that you’re going to grow older and that the hourglass is going to be tipped in the other direction.”
Anticipation by Carly Simon (1971)
Anticipation by Carly Simon (2009)
- The Waiting by Tom Petty
The Waiting was the highlight of Tom Petty’s 1981 LP Hard Promises. “I remember writing that one very well,” the singer-songwriter recalled in Performing Songwriter. “I had that guitar riff, that really good lick. Couldn’t get anything else. I had a really hard time. And I knew it was good, and it just went on endlessly. It was one of those where I really worked on it until I was too tired to go any longer. And I’d get right up and start again and spend the whole day to the point where other people in the house would complain. ‘You’ve been playing that lick for hours.'”
“Roger McGuinn swears he told me the line — about the waiting being the hardest part — but I think I got the idea from something Janis Joplin said on television,” Petty told the Los Angeles Times. “It’s about waiting for your dreams and not knowing if they will come true. I’ve always felt it was an optimistic song.”
The Waiting by Tom Petty