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  • Writer's pictureBenjamin Kassel

"I've Been Waitin' for Tomorrow" (All of My Life)... the title speaks for itself

It's a somewhat confusing song by a band with a somewhat confusing name: The The. How fitting.

*sigh* I feel... lost again. More than anything, I'm just scared of not knowing where to take myself or where I'll be led in my life next.

Musically, I hear that as a very particular sound: dark, cold, detached... and perhaps not quite in the traditional sense of time or metric understanding. That sound required a good bit of searching for me as I prepared to write today's Senior Year Soundtrack entry, and it ultimately led me to a song which I had previously not head: "I've Been Waitin' for Tomorrow (All of My Life)," by The The. This post-punk track caught my attention for its array of elements that are just congruous enough for it to all congeal into a catchy number, despite its peculiarities.

As soon as the song started on my first listen, I was taken somewhat aback by its percussion rhythm. It's nearly universal in the pop sphere for songs to be in 4/4 time and have features that change or loop at some multiple of eight beats, "I've Been Waitin' For Tomorrow (All of My Life)" has a six-beat percussion loop. I instantly knew upon realizing the loop that this song would be somewhat different, likely in a good way. What I didn't expect was for the other sonic material to be a mix of four-, six-, eight, and twelve-beat loops that results in a somewhat hypnotic, confounding rhythmic landscape. Thomas Leer's low synth and Camelle G. Hinds' bass combine for a twelve-beat loop that fits in with the percussion. Meanwhile, Leer's flitting high synth repeats every eight beats, creating a sort of push and pull between the loops as they fall in and out of matching up with each other.

Matt Johnson's vocals are in an eight-beat pattern, though he sometimes shifts their starting point, entangling the track's rhythmic web even further. The confusion he and his fellow musicians create is apt considering his lyrical narrative of feeling lost and unaccomplished. It was Johnson's opening lines — "I'm hiding in the corner of an overgrown garden / Covering my body in leaves and trying not to breathe" — that really told me this was the right song for the state of mind I'm in. Yes, I love getting out and doing things when I have the time, but that only offers short-term, immediate relief. When it comes to how I feel regarding my life beyond Berkeley, Johnson hits the nail on the head.

What also makes the song hurt a bit to hear is how its lyrics speak to the narrator being to blame for their own difficulties. The title certainly implies that continuing to wait for something to arise leads nowhere, but just before the title statement at the ends of the chorus, Johnson sings a more focused statement of that same feeling: "Another year over and what have I done? / My aspirations have shriveled in the sun." Hopefully, this song and these lines in particular will serve as a wake-up call toward me making progress on getting somewhere in my next chapter in life; otherwise, I end up seeing myself like the character Johnson has built... sans the cool solo starting around the three-minute mark.

"I've Been Waitin' for Tomorrow (All of My Life)" has a fascinating mix of patterns and sounds in its five and three-quarter minutes, all of which... really don't lead anywhere. That might sound odd, but in the case of this track, that lack of direction seems to be the point. After all, if you're just waiting for something to happen, you're not creating the change yourself. Everything is there for you to observe, but you aren't a part of any of it. That's what makes the song resonate with me so much at this life juncture. Hopefully, before long, I'll feel as if I've moved past this phase; what will persist regardless, though, is my appreciation for this song and the mood Matt Johnson and The The achieved through it.


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