Song of the Day #348: ‘You Will Be Waiting’ – Barenaked Ladies

maybeyoushoulddriveWhile Gordon contained primarily light and funny songs, the Ladies’ second album, Maybe You Should Drive, veered toward more serious subject matter — one subject in particular: romantic relationships.

The opening track is one of my favorite BNL songs, ‘Jane,’ which I already featured on the blog. Another favorite is ‘Life, in a Nutshell,’ as catchy a pop tune as you’ll ever hear (though you won’t hear it here today). ‘The Wrong Man Was Convicted’ suggests a pedantic protest song but turns out to be about a man who can’t commit to a relationship.

One of the album’s prettiest songs is today’s selection, ‘You Will Be Waiting.’ It’s an interesting ‘let’s not break up’ song, with the verses painting a rather dire situation for the couple but the chorus suggesting a (likely false) sense of security. “But I know that you will be waiting there for me,” he repeats as things between them get increasingly worse.

Only at the end, in the final verse, does he drop the veil of confidence and turn his statement into a plea: “But please say that you will be waiting there for me.” Then, this desperate finish: “Don’t you ever leave me, don’t leave…”

What did broken-hearted people do before music was invented? Perhaps music was invented by the broken-hearted.

As we walk together through the autumn, nearing winter
Through the dying leaves and trees we call our home and native land,
You say you don’t believe a thing I say, I say you don’t believe a thing
You say you can’t believe how I don’t understand

Chorus:
But I know
You will be waiting
Oh I know
You will be waiting
Oh I know
You will be waiting
Waiting there for me

You say you cannot live with me, you need your own identity
And now we air our laundry on national TV
And so you hate my arrogance, my smothering, and sitting on the fence,
But I’m afraid of the hard permanence of letting you go free

(Chorus)

I’m so sick of fighting and that effigy you’re lighting looks
An awful lot like someone whose name I just can’t quite place
And though you say it’s not supposed to be me or any entity
Still through the flames and smoke I see I recognize that face

(Chorus)

And you were someone who would
Always tell me things I don’t know,
And tell me where to go
But there I’ll always go, always go there
Whether or not you’re waiting
I don’t care if you’ll be waiting
But please say that you will be waiting there for me
Don’t you ever leave me, don’t leave

7 thoughts on “Song of the Day #348: ‘You Will Be Waiting’ – Barenaked Ladies

  1. Amy says:

    Is it possible this is also a song about fearing death? Not that it isn’t everything you say that it is, as well. When I was listening, I wondered “where is she going that he wants her to be constantly waiting for him? What’s going on? Is she dying?” I was thinking this all in a sort of tongue-in-cheek way, but then when I looked at the lyrics again, that first verse suggests that my silly question could have some merit. They’re walking together through the autum, “nearing winter.” Maybe he’s a cynic, who has little faith in the after life. She’s the one who has always told him things he didn’t know, and told him where to go (in all the serious and funny ways that line implies). Now he’s afraid of what comes next, and though he figures he’ll manage it – whatever IT is – one way or another, he’d much rather manage it with her.

    Maybe?

  2. Clay says:

    I like that interpretation a lot, particularly as it relates to the first and last verses.

    I read one person’s guess (tongue in cheek, perhaps, but perhaps not) that the “I” in the song is Canada and the “you” Quebec and the song is about Quebec wanting to secede. The second and third verses could be read in that light.

  3. Amy says:

    Hmm… yeah, the verse about airing laundry on national television seemed odd to me. The Canada/Quebec angle makes it absolutely perfect. I like that.

  4. Dana says:

    I’m digging the whole Canada/Quebec angle–it really makes sense, and, if intended, is a very clever way to personify Quebec. I don’t see the death angle so much, unless of course he expects (or hopes) the girl will be waiting in Heaven for him.

  5. Clay says:

    I think the heaven thing is what Amy was getting at. I don’t know enough about Quebec to know how well the lyrics fit, but some of them seem particularly fitting (the effigy and national TV stuff, for example).

  6. Dana says:

    Quebec views the Canadian government as arrogant, smothering, hedging, untrustworthy, and unsympathetic as to the desire for independence. The song captures those sentiments quite well, but also argues the perspective of Canada that, like it or not, Quebec is a part of the country’s fabric and that they need each other and will always be bound together.

    I plan on going to Texas to sing this song to those clowns!

  7. Amy says:

    Yes, “the heaven thing,” or whatever undetermined thing it might be, is what I was going for. The singer is uncertain, in fact has little faith, but wants to believe that if there is something next, she’ll be there waiting for him.

    But I like the Canada intepretation better 🙂

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