Song of the Day #1,706: ‘We Used to Wait’ – Arcade Fire

suburbsThe Suburbs is really finishing strong. ‘We Used to Wait’ is another excellent track. Propelled by a high jabbing piano chord, it’s an adrenaline rush that served as the album’s first single.

Thematically, Win Butler is back on the topic of technology and its deadening impact on modern life. He looks back nostalgically at the days when we would write actual letters rather than e-mails or texts.

As a former letter writer myself, this sentiment hits home. I’ve often wondered if the ease of communication afforded by things like Facebook and e-mail hasn’t cheapened the process.

Do 45 “Happy Birthday!” messages, probably tapped out absent-mindedly during morning e-mail checks, mean as much as a single hand-written note?

Throughout this album, Butler has described the “waiting” that pervades suburban life. Waiting to get older, waiting to go out, waiting to get away from the towns where we grew up.

Here he talks about waiting for letters to arrive, but describes that waiting in more positive terms, as something that “can keep you alive.”

I used to write
I used to write letters
I used to sign my name
I used to sleep at night
Before the flashing lights settled deep in my brain
But by the time we met
The times had already changed
So I never wrote a letter
I never took my true heart
I never wrote it down
So when the lights cut out
I was left standing in the wilderness downtown

Now our lives are changing fast
Hope that something pure can last

It seems strange
How we used to wait for letters to arrive
But what’s stranger still
Is how something so small can keep you alive
We used to wait
We used to waste hours just walkin around
We used to wait
All those wasted lives in the wilderness downtown

Ooooo we used to wait
Sometimes it never came
Ooooo we used to wait
Sometimes it never came
Ooooo we used to wait
Still moving through the pain

I’m gonna write a letter to my true love
I’m gonna sign my name
Like a patient on a table
I Wanna walk again
Gonna move through the pain

Now our lives are changing fast
Hope that something pure can last

Ooooo we used to wait
Sometimes it never came
Ooooo we used to wait
Sometimes it never came
Ooooo we used to wait
Still moving through the pain

We used to wait for it
Now we’re screaming
Sing the chorus again

I used to wait for it
Hear my voice screaming
Sing the chorus again

Wait for it

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6 thoughts on “Song of the Day #1,706: ‘We Used to Wait’ – Arcade Fire

  1. Dana says:

    I am going to write a letter to you imploring that you never spend 3 weeks on an album of lame overhyped songs :-)

  2. Clay says:

    Over the next three weeks I plan to revisit the album again, but this time listening to each song backward. Then I’ll move on to the band’s first and second albums.

  3. Dana says:

    So, my daughter wishes to see me tortured. Nice!

  4. gurnick says:

    I am so glad to have found your blog. I think so much of Arcade Fire and this song. If you want to really experience it, you should check out the accompanying website for a really unique musical experience:

    http://thewildernessdowntown.com/

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