Skip to content

Words and Music. “Wait” by The Beatles

January 12, 2016

wait

Exactly when and where and why the Beatles posed for this image – with Ringo, John and Paul holding brooms and George holding an enormous basket – I can’t say.  It must have made sense to someone at some point, and then become associated with the 1965 song with the “arresting” title of “Wait” – to be found on the Rubber Soul album.  A song that, I would argue, collapses any poetic distinction between words and music.

Here are the lyrics to “Wait” by the way.  I’ve tried to arrange them in a way that seems to do justice to the rhythm of the song.  It seems to be a Paul McCartney song by the way – both John and Paul independently identified it as such – though with a usual caveat of “maybe John/I added a bit… I’m not sure.”

WAIT

It’s been a long time,
Now I’m

Coming back home.
I’ve been away now
Oh how

I’ve been alone.

Wait,

Till I come back to your side
We’ll forget the tears we’ve cried

But if your heart breaks
Don’t wait,

Turn me away
And if your heart’s strong
Hold on,

I won’t delay

Wait,

Till I come back to your side
We’ll forget the tears we’ve cried

I feel as though
You ought to know
That I’ve been good
As good as I can be
And if you do
I’ll trust in you
And know that you
Will wait for me

It’s been a long time
Now I’m

Coming back home
I’ve been away now
Oh how

I’ve been alone.

Wait,

Till I come back to your side
We’ll forget

The tears we’ve cried.

I feel as though,
You ought to know,
That I’ve been good –
As good as I can be.

And if you do,
I’ll trust in you,
And know that you
Will wait for me

But if your heart breaks,
Don’t wait,

Turn me away
And if your heart’s strong,
Hold on,

I won’t delay.

Wait,

Till I come back to your side.
We’ll forget the tears we’ve cried.

It’s been a long time,
Now I’m

Coming back home.
I’ve been away now,
Oh, how

I’ve been alone.

 

There’s nothing of what you might call “imagery” in these lyrics.  If they succeed (which they do) then they succeed on a purely rhythmic level.  And if you think, as I think, that poetry can succeed on a purely rhythmic level, then these lines are poetry.

Wait is about a stop start relationship – a relationship interrupted.

If you think that lyrics need to sound like “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” or “I am the Walrus” to establish their poetic credentials, then “Wait” is never going to cut the mustard.  Mind you, John Lennon was after all the author of “I Want You She’s So Heavy” – a song whose very few lyrics are completely subservient to the lumbering rhythm of the song.  John Lennon used to argue with Bob Dylan over whether or not the words of a song ought to stand alone, be credible independently of the song.  Lennon (and McCartney would have agreed) was vociferous in his opinion that they didn’t have to.

The lyrics of “Wait” do and do not work as poetry detached from the song – depending on what you think poetry is or isn’t.

The uncanny and unorthodox rhythms of “Wait” are about a struggle to synchronise – the effort of bringing two people together.  There is poetry not merely (or primarily)  in the words, but in the uneven spaces between the words.  And I like the song because it’s a song where the difference between words and music collapses – the music is about the sentiments expressed by the words – and the lyrics are about the jarring emotions implicit in the rhythms.

Still don’t know what’s going on with the brooms and the big basket though.

 

Advertisements

From → Uncategorized

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: