Album: Hard Promises (1981)
Charted: 19
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Songfacts®:

  • Anyone who knows the pangs of anticipation can relate to the premise of this song: The waiting is the hardest part. Tom Petty explained: "That was a song that took a long time to write. Roger McGuinn swears he told me the line - about the waiting being the hardest part - but I think I got the idea from something Janis Joplin said on television. I had the chorus very quickly, but I had a very difficult time piecing together the rest of the song. It's about waiting for your dreams and not knowing if they will come true. I've always felt it was an optimistic song."
  • This was released as the lead single from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' fourth album, Hard Promises. At the time, Tom Petty was so popular his record label wanted to charge $1 more for the LP than the standard $8.98, but they backed down after he considered naming the album "$8.98"
  • Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers performed this in their Live Aid set along with "American Girl," "Rebels" and "Refugee."
  • Petty performed this with just his acoustic guitar on the 1987 episode of It's Garry Shandling's Show, "No Baby, No Show." The song also appeared on the 1997 The Simpsons episode "The Cartridge Family."
  • This song gets a mention in the 2019 Netflix movie A Marriage Story when Laura Dern, playing Scarlett Johansson's hard-nosed divorce attorney, says, "Wasn't it Tom Petty who said waiting is the hardest part? I represented Tom Petty's wife in the divorce. I got her one half of that song."

    In real life, Petty divorced his first wife, Jane, in 1996.
  • This song triggered some soul searching from The Replacements, who toured with Petty in 1989. While watching him perform "The Waiting" and listening to the crowd roar the "yeah-yeah-yeah" part, Replacements frontman Paul Westerberg realized he and his band "just weren't made of the stuff that makes popular music." (Quote from Trouble Boys by Bob Mehr.)

Comments: 18

  • Paulo from Yonkers, Ny@ Daniel of Bloomington, IN: yeah, though the Simpsons episode was actually called "The Cartridge Family".

    Anyway, this is my favorite Tom Petty song. Interesting to read Petty's explanation of the song. I always took the lyrics at face value.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn April 26th 1981, "The Waiting" by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #61; and on June 7th it peaked at #19 (for 2 weeks) and spent 13 weeks on the Top 100...
    And on May 3rd it reached #1 (for 6 weeks) on Billboard's Mainstream Rock chart...
    Was track 1 of side 1 on the group's fourth studio album, "Hard Promises"...
    One other track from the album also made the Top 100, "A Woman in Love (It's Not Me)", it reached #79...
    Mr. Petty will celebrate his 64th birthday this coming October 20th, 2014.
  • Diane from Tuscaloosa, AlNo One likes to Wait-and here Petty points out that it's just a part of the processand in fact "the hardest part". Petty turns 60 today by the way born 10-20-50 and I bet it's still "Good to be King". Does anyone know who the "Face in the crowd" is?
  • John from Grand Island, NyA perfect example of a hit pop song, catchy chorus, wonderful meaningful lyrics and absolutely perfect jangly guitars. One of Tom's finest songs. And I agree, the version at Live Aid in 1985 is spectacular. Why its not on the DVD release is robbery. Tom's set that day was American Girl, The Waiting, Rebels and Refugee. I think they stole the show.
  • Drew from Buffalo, NyThis song beginning riff sounds exactly like a riff by Roger McGuinn of the Byrds, could be him but its probably just Mike Campbell and was just influenced by him.
  • Tom from Hershey, PaThat second verse is a killer!!! Its all about my lady. I've been grovin on Petty since the early 80s. He remained hip theoughout. Way to go Tom & the Heartbreakers. This ones the best of the best. Keep on Rockin.....
  • Melanie from Seattle, WaI heard that Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are performing during the Super Bowl halftime... if so, that is going to ROCK!!!!!!
  • Max from Laconia, NhOh, and dont forget You Got Lucky! Almost forgot that!
  • Max from Laconia, NhPetty rocks, man! Rocks! I have so many other favorites, like Running Down a Dream, You Dont Know How it Feels, I Wont Back Down, Dont Come Around Here No More, A Face In The Crowd, Free Falling, and many, many more!
  • Vernon from Trinidad, Wi, OtherLove this Petty tune. Nowadays though, I always tend to think of that Simpsons episode mentioned here when Homer's "waiting" the trial period to get his gun, and while this song plays a Target van, ducks and other things one would shoot roll by Homer while anxiously waits. Classic stuff!
  • Jay from Atlanta, GaThere is a contemporary Christian band out of Atlanta called "The Waiting". They are a great band, check out thewaiting.org. They were trying to come up with a name for the band and they decided to go through old albums. The rest is history. I always thought the song itself would work well as a Christian song. "You take it on faith, you take it to the heart..."
  • Meg from Br, LaI adore this song. Of course i adore all of Tom Petty & the Heartbreaker's songs. I actually heard this one this morning. Well, also last night on my mp3, but ok yes im crazy bout Mr. Petty's music...
  • Johnny from Los Angeles, CaOne of the best Petty songs. In the rock n' roll camp episode, Tom Petty loses his toe.
  • Brian from Grand Forks, NdTom Petty was fighting again with MCA records which delayed the release of the album Hard Promises... After the success of Damn the Torpedoes... MCA wanted to charge a star artist price of $9.98 and Tom Petty demanded that the album sell at the normal price of $8.98... This caused a standoff which Tom Petty won when he threatened to name the album $8.98... So Tom Petty went into battle for you and saved you One Dollar if you purchased this album back in 1981... The Price of the album is now around 15 dollars at walmart... But I don't know if Tom Petty can do anything about that...
  • Daniel from Bloomington, InThis song was featured in an episode of The Simpsons, but it was the episode called "Homer Gets a Gun." This was not the episode where he goes to rock camp, although Tom Petty may have made an appearance in that episode.
  • Candice from Vancouver, CanadaI think this song was in an episode of the Simpsons where Homer goes to camp.
  • Scutter from Harrisonburg, VaFirst Live Aid Concert...TP playing this ..just him and the Rickenbacker solo ---for a couple of verses..then the band trickles in before coming in full force...AWESOME...One of my favorite ever Rock And Roll Moments....yet sadly was not on the Live Aid DVD Released in 2004. H U G E Bummer! Great Song !
  • Snake from Custer , SdI agree with Mr. Petty somewhat on this song, in the fact that you're waiting on your dreams to come true, or it can be about some or it can also be interepted as on waiting for a lover, maybe that falls under the catagory of "dreams", either way, it's a song about waiting for something you have been pushing all your life to get to a certain point and you're still not there so all you have left to do is wait. Woohoo, that was long winded, hope it makes sense. Peace
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