My 19th Favorite Song of All-Time


“We Used to Wait” by Arcade Fire

“We Used to Wait” is about as great as a rock song can get: it’s about big but real human stuff (how is technology changing basic human emotional experience?), discussed in unique, innovative ways (lyricist Win Butler never feels the need to over-explain, while not being overly daft or dense), on top of layered sound which is not too-produced but is obviously passionate.  Please enjoy the live version of the song below (and in a nod to Dellinger family heritgae, notice the images of U.S. mail the band uses on a screen on the stage, mostly toward the end of the song.  And seriously, how rad is that to use this as the main propulsion of the concept of the song, that we don’t have to wait to recieve our discourse in the mail anymore?  Writers of any ilk—let alone songwriters—would be extremely fortunate to find such a creative and effective linguistic device!)  And there is very little triumph of rock and roll more succinct and powerful than the ending crescendo of this song, with Butler belting out “Wait for it!”

Oh and one other thing real quick: may I plead with you to re-familiarize yourself with this blog post of mine, about Arcade Fire’s truly incredible online experience centered around “We Used to Wait”, and if you decide to do it, I encourage you to go through the experience a few times, using different addresses from your past.

We Used to Wait
by Arcade Fire

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–
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 lost standing in the wilderness downtown.

Now our lives are changing fast;
hope that something pure can last.

It may seem 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 walking around.
(We used to wait.)
All those wasted lives in the wilderness downtown.
(We used to wait.)
Sometimes it never came.
(We used to wait.)
Still moving through the pain.

So 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,
wanna move 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 scream
and sing the chorus again.

Wait for it!

One Response to “My 19th Favorite Song of All-Time”

  1. Kyle Sundgren Says:

    I checked out the old blog with the experience. I had completely forgotten about it. I’m glad I have a better computer now to experience it, or at least part of it. When it came to the part where I had to sign my name I signed my name and then the song stopped and everything associated with it.

    At first I had a hard time believing that was my old neighborhood, but when it went really wide it obviously was, but in a virtual form. Did yours do that too?

    The song I can take or leave. Not my kind of bread. I’m going to try to make that an expression. Sorry, haha.

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