Waiting on the World To Change
"Waiting On The World" really deserves further study, but it might be just about what’s going on in the world today. The song goes on to explain the title in lyrics. Waiting on the World to Change is just a feeling. It’s not meant to be a political diatribe. I will let any political diatribe about the song take place by people who are really good at having political discourse. I’m just putting out there an observation as to my generation and how a lot of people I’ve talked to feel. And even while recording the song, we would drug people and bring them into the studio, and when they came to — with a combination of smelling salts and Epsom salts, which didn’t work too well to wake them up, but they had really soft heels — and they woke up and we’d say, "so what do you think of this?" And people in the studio that we would play this for would say, "that’s exactly how I feel." And when I started playing the song for older people, there was a little bit of trepidation in terms of having a song that was about not doing anything. Because if you're of an older generation, then you did something. And so there was a little bit of fear like, "I don’t know if you should come out and say that." But I was vindicated to know that a lot of people feel the same way. It’s not meant to cut any sides. It's just a feeling. That’s the most I can do: is to write about the way I feel.
Waiting On The World To Change was kind of the last song to come out, and I was really glad it came out. That’s how I knew the record was done. I came up with that song in two days and it was done and I knew that was the first single.
DW: So you’ve got a question for John I believe.
[Caller]: We do. So we know you’ve been pretty involved with NCIRE [Northern California Institute for Research and Education] and with veterans health research. So our question is, we were wondering how has your point of view changed since you wrote Waiting on the World to Change and Belief? If you think it’s been intensified, or changed by your work with veterans?
JM: You know, that’s a really good question. The work that I’ve done with veterans has really focused me on the task at hand. I think anybody who works with veterans, anyone who knows a military family or somebody who’s in the military or somebody who knows someone who’s in the military, there’s a certain sort of grace that is extended where you don’t really discuss the sort of large—not larger, I don’t wanna say larger—but, in a sense, more broad conversation about politics or the theory of it all. When working with NCIRE and working with veterans and meeting them, I don’t think that it changes my point of view on a song like "Belief" or "Waiting on the World To Change," because that’s sort of the way that I look at it as a songwriter, the way that I process it as a person. But in helping, or helping to help, veterans, you find that you don’t think about the politics. You don’t think about your point of view. So I would say that it’s very sobering in the sense that my point of view doesn’t matter at all. And nobody’s point of view matters at all. All that matters is the task at hand. Especially when something is now in the past. Nothing matters but the task at hand.
So I would say working with NCIRE has focused me on that. As a songwriter, time ages songs differently, time changes the meaning of songs. "Waiting on the World To Change" is very 2006. It’s very pre, sort of, Obama administration. But I remember that summer, working on that record, I remember the news just feeling very strange. I remember—that song was a time capsule.
BB: We're having a debate in this room before you came in—and you may not want to answer this—which song are you just tired of playing?
JM: Um, I'm tired of playing "Waiting on the World to Change."
BB: Boom! What did I say?!
Amy: Pay up!
JM: What, that I would have one or that it would be that one?
BB: That it would be that one.
JM: Really? Yeah.
BB: Why do you think it is? I have a whole different reason. Why do you think it is. I have a reason I'm tired of hearing it. Why do you think?
JM: Oh that's funny, let's go, let’s boogie. Here we go, I’m leaning into this one.
BB: Why are you tired of playing it?
JM: It's—honest to god—it's just a tactile thing. It's just after a while like—by the way you're gonna be like “oh, well I hated the message”, I was like “I just didn't like the way it felt in my hand.” It's right outside of my range. Like when I had a vocal surgery then I had a procedure and like it cost me like two or three notes and I needed those notes for "Waiting on the World to Change." So I kind of had to sneak around it, so it's not exactly the most comfortable thing. So weirdly enough like all the songs that became very popular are very difficult to sing for me.
Meanwhile all I wanted to do is like have a hit with like [sings part of "Who Says"] and just wake up at 5:00 in the morning and be able to do it. And so it’s out of my range. It’s also musically pretty circular, you know? So there’s not a ton of room in it—you kind of get into it—you have to say your piece and then get out. It’s not necessarily meant for exploring the musical space of the song. Now you go, why don’t you like "Waiting On the World to Change" anymore?
More song meanings from Continuum
- Waiting on the World To Change
- I Don't Trust Myself (With Loving You)
- The Heart of Life
- Stop This Train
- Slow Dancing in a Burning Room
- Bold as Love
- Dreaming with a Broken Heart
- In Repair
- I'm Gonna Find Another You