"Waiting for the End of the World" as written by Elvis Costello....
The man from the television crawled into the train
I wonder who he's gonna stick it in this time
Everyone was looking for a little entertainment
So they'll probably pull his hands off when they find out his name
And then they shut down the power all along the line
And we got stuck in the tunnel where no lights shine
They got to touchin', all the girls were scared to call out
Nobody was saying anything at all

We were waiting for the end of the world
Waiting for the end of the world
Waiting for the end of the world
Dear Lord, I sincerely hope you're coming
'Cause you really started something

Things got back to normal as the train began to roll again
We got to the station about twenty minutes later
The legendary hitch-hiker says that he knows where it's at
Now he'd like to go to Spain or somewhere like that
With his two-tone Bible and his funny cigarettes
His suntan lotion and his castanets

He was waiting for the end of the world
Waiting for the end of the world
Waiting for the end of the world
Dear Lord, I sincerely hope you're coming
'Cause you really started something

And then the bride, the groom, the congregation and the priest
All got onto the train when we were three stations east, yeah
Hiding from a scandal in the national press
They had been trying to get married since they stole the wedding dress
You may see them drowning as you stroll along the beach
But don't throw out the lifeline till they're clean out of reach

Waiting for the end of the world
Waiting for the end of the world
Waiting for the end of the world
Waiting for the end of the world
Waiting for the end of the world
Waiting for the end of the world
Waiting for the end of the world
Waiting for the end of the world
Yeah, waiting for the end of the world
Waiting for the end of the world
Waiting for the end


Lyrics submitted by fearofmusic

"Waiting for the End of the World" as written by Elvis Costello

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Waiting for the End of the World song meanings
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4 Comments

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  • +1
    General CommentThis song functions exactly like Dylan's "When I Paint My Masterpiece." It's intended to be a sort of haiku history of the world.
    Using a train ride as a symbol of inexorably advancing time, it does describe the history of western civ pretty well: You've got the Dark Ages ("...shut down the power all along the line..."). Then we straightaway cut to the 20th century ("...20 minutes later..."). We meet the nascent conscious-raising and childlike innocence of the 1960s (legendary hitchhiker/castinets), then Costello deals with the final demise of the anti-Christ, advising that we can hasten this merciful process by refraining to throw these pricks, with their counterfit claim to spiritual legitimacy, a lifeline. Dylan also deals with this specific thing in "Masterpiece" when he talks about all those years he spent in the Colluseum "dodgin' lions/and wastin' time..."
    It's interesting to note that Costello is trying to sound "American/everyman" in his vocals on this tune, which to me smacks of Bob Dylan; another indication that Costello might have actually had Bob's songwriting style in mind here.
    razajacon September 27, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI've always viewed this song as an agnostic's plea to God (who he has his doubts about) to please come show him a sign that this is after all a rational world, the wicked get punished and the virtuous rewarded, in spite of the evidence to the contrary that he finds everyday on the train.
    Waiting for the End of the World means he is waiting to see if the Day of Reckoning actually reckons anything at all. It belies the spiritual suffering of one who cannot find a righteous life for all the wickedness in the world. Of course, in the world of the godly, this is no excuse.
    montresoron October 28, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentApparently the guy in the opening verse is famous rock critic Nick Kent. El saw him on a train one night He was too 'out of it' to even notice that everyone on the train was fixated on him. He found it fascinating that someone can attract so much attention and yet remain completely oblivious to it all. So he went home and wrote this song
    Ampersanon March 14, 2008   Link
  • 0
    Song MeaningElvis says in his book - "Waiting For The End Of The World" turned a simple homeward journey on the Underground into a claustrophobic travelogue, pulling the hysteria out of newspaper headlines into the everyday boredom of the commuter.
    luke108742on November 15, 2015   Link

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