Wait - The Beatles

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"Wait" - The Beatles (1965)

“Wait” describes a couple who have been apart but now they are back together and hopefully, everything will be fine.

It opens right in the midst of the action with an off-the-beat vocal pickup; there’s no intro, not even an instrumental downbeat to give the singer his cue. For that matter, there’s no formal outro here either; the song kind of just rhetorically grinds to a halt. 

Beatles scholar Terence O’Grady wrote that “Wait” explores the conflict between syncopation and silence in such a way as to create constant fluctuation in momentum. While the chorus and middle section of the song display a traditional pop-rock continuity, the primary section is characterized by rhythmic stops and starts, which disrupt the metric regularity associated with that style.

The track exhibits elements typical of the Beatles’ mature pop-rock style but, again, modifies them in some unusual ways. It showed Lennon and McCartney in transition, consciously casting about for the new direction they knew they’d need in the second half of 1965.

Part filler, part experiment, the song has a hypothetical quality that renders it difficult to feel strongly about. While more considered than usual, the lyric remains contrived- a sequence of heroic-romantic clichés neither of its writers seems to have believed in.

A “reconciliation” song, “Wait” suggests a turbulent, passion-filled relationship, but the lack of concrete details significantly harms the narrative. Nevertheless, the speaker does not rely on a strategy of empty boasting and threats, but rather emphasizes a fresh start and that they should “forget the tears we cried.”

He is certainly not willing to admit fault, but rather emphasizes the reciprocal nature of the relationship. Despite these nuances, however, the song fails to address the core issues that led to the initial breakup- although perhaps the infidelity is intimated by the phrase “as good as it can be.”

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