"We Used to Wait" as written by Win Butler, Regine Chassagne, William Butler, Tim Kingsbury, Richard R Parry and Jeremy Gara....
I used to write
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
Now our lives are changing fast
Hope that something pure can last
Hope that something pure can last

It seems 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 walkin' around
We used to wait
All those wasted lives in the wilderness downtown

Ooooo we used to wait
Ooooo we used to wait
Ooooo we used to wait
Sometimes it never came (we used to wait)
Sometimes it never came (we used to wait)
Still moving through the pain

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
Gonna move through the pain

Now our lives are changing fast
Now our lives are changing fast
Hope that something pure can last
Hope that something pure can last

Ooooo we used to wait
Ooooo we used to wait
Ooooo we used to wait
Sometimes it never came (we used to wait)
Sometimes it never came (we used to wait)
Still moving through the pain
We used to wait
We used to wait
We used to wait

We used to wait for it
We used to wait for it
Now we're screaming
Sing the chorus again
We used to wait for it
We used to wait for it
Now we're screaming
Sing the chorus again
I used to wait for it
I used to wait for it
Hear my voice screaming
Sing the chorus again

Wait for it
Wait for it
Wait for it


Lyrics submitted by MaxpowerSupreme

"We Used to Wait" as written by Regine Chassagne Jeremy Gara

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

We Used to Wait song meanings
Add your thoughts

28 Comments

sort form View by:
  • +24
    General Commentwe don't wait anymore - everything's extremely fast today, communication especially. long-distance contact can be made instantaneously. so everything feels even more ephemeral, or transitory, or fickle. we also don't walk as much in the contemporary busy life format, opting for faster means of transportation than our own legs. fast fast fast. it's only natural that the older generations will look back at those times when you actually had to wait to receive a letter, a physical document, and, in the case of classic lovers, a special piece of paper with the sender's very own handwriting (when not typewritten). there was expectation, and the expectation itself could be a reason to be content to be alive. a big part of the romance is gone.
    drmnon June 20, 2010   Link
  • +6
    My InterpretationI think it's talking about how modern technology has completely changed human interactions and relationships. It does indeed seem strange to think how we used to wait for letters to arrive. The world we live in has become consumed by instant gratification. Technology is our crutch; without it we would be lost. He hopes desperately that he can have something genuine, even as he feels himself slipping into the same trance the rest of the world has fallen under.
    alj93on August 09, 2010   Link
  • +5
    My InterpretationNotes on Theme, Music
    -Blossoming of Technology (esp. social), alienation this causes
    -A society in which we have exchanged deep gifts for immediate sensation
    -The impossibility of reversal, futility of reminiscence
    -Urgency ‘superceding’ aimlessness, oppressiveness of this ‘progression’
    -The steady build-up of the string section mirrors the various forms of proliferation addressed in the lyrics: blossoming of technology, associated mounting feelings of alienation, (ironic) struggle to articulate the loss of communication, difficulty in describing the past as it is in the process of being paved over (obscured)

    First Verse
    -In the first stanza, our narrator reminisces about the satisfaction of personal communication, as he remembers it as a child
    -By the time he has matured, this phenomenon has seemingly vanished (symbolic example: letters vs. email)
    -He feels like his generation has been robbed of authentic means of communication, reflects on the resulting alienation
    -Further still, when he attempts to disassociate himself from this social trend, he is lost ‘in the dark’ (ie. without technology, in this case electricity, he find he cannot navigate his surroundings.)
    -Times have changed and he finds he cannot go back. Social technology is entrenched in our lives.
    -For dramatic effect, our narrator uses ‘wilderness’, the natural that has been sacrificed, to symbolize the technology that has ‘blossomed’ in its place, esp in densely populated urban areas. The analog speaks to the irrepressible proliferation of technology as resembling the natural in its patterns of growth

    First Chorus
    -Our narrator feels that, with culture advancing so rapidly, it will soon cease to bear any resemblance to our ‘natural’ roots
    -Change is not progression. We sacrifice emotional depth for immediacy. The capitalist system does not have the capacity for patience and thus profits off of our fickleness, laziness

    Second Verse
    -While our narrator distinctly remembers a time in which natural communication (in this case letters) was the norm, he cannot quite fathom a society that could handle (in retrospect) the unreliability and tediousness associated with this. This is strange.
    -Furthermore, though he can recognize how essential this for of communication used to seem, he cannot articulate exactly why (This may be because a modern analog no longer exists). This is disturbing.
    -He reflects on youthful aimlessness, erased by a relentless sense of urgency (read: pragmatist ideology).
    -For him, this boundless need to be productive is (ironically) the true waste

    Second Chorus
    -Our narrator reminisces about the joy of uncertainty, human error/ imperfection that has been ‘overcome’

    Third Verse
    -Our narrator frames himself as a victim, crippled by this aforementioned shift
    -He declares his intention to overcome this emotionally paralyzing environment (or at least its psychological effect on him) by ‘regressing’, if not by physically returning to more primitive forms of communication, then returning to an antiquated mentality (relating to patience and its difficult rewards)

    -After being presented with a bleak scene, the listener is presented with a strikingly up-beat message
    -The source of this optimism seems to be in grasping the willpower to control ones attitude/ rather than allowing his/her environment (culture) to determine it.
    -The narrator suggests that, though many relate to the issue he is illustrating, most accept it by responding with cool apathy. This could be the heart of the problem.
    -‘Gonna move through the pain’: Modern society teaches us to avoid pain (including that associated with hard work). We are trained to ignore difficult problems. The hard choice is to acknowledge, even embrace difficulty, uncertainty. There is treasure hidden beneath it.

    Third Chorus
    -In the final chorus, our narrator walks through the fire, reacting to the burn by screaming his convictions louder and louder.
    weusedtowaiton September 02, 2010   Link
  • +5
    General CommentDef the best Fire album. Obviously the whole album is about time, modernity, convention, and childhood. As many great writers and songwriters spend their years trying to find the meaning of life, to access the world that seemed so joyous when they were children, so too does Arcade Fire. But that's just what we think, how our brains work. When you're in your twenties you may long to be a child again, but when you're in your late thirties you long to be in your early twenties. And it's not just, 'Oh i wish I was young'. As they say, youth is wasted on the young. But that's not exactly accurate since everyone is young. The biggest problem is not death but aging. Time seems unreal. This is the oldest you've ever been, and while that may seem obvious, when you think about it it really subtracts meaning from our world. There's no, next time I'm in Kindergarten, next time I'm in highschool, next time I lose my virginity, etc. The suburbs represent convention. They represent what we're 'supposed' to do. But real happiness seems almost inaccessible in our world (through anything short of a lobotomy), and so while we're told to raise a family and move to the suburbs, what we really want is the past because the past represents a better time, an almost perfect unreal time. Obviously ppl like Dylan and Cohen and Jeff Buckley have devoted their lives to this problem, as have great writers like Thomas Wolfe, and obviously there is no answer. And although we 'used to wait' with 'all those wasted hours', when we look back on it now it's a shame, but in reality, 'if I could have it back, all the time that we wasted, I'd only waste it again.' In regards to the Eliot quote well it also greatly troubled Eliot. And it is most definitely a nod in his direction. Prufrock was his first major accomplishment about a world of being alone in a big city, of being alone even though you're surrounded by people. Although everyone (I think :S) suffers from very similar problems in life, it hurts because sometimes we can be alone and have to deal with the problems alone, even though everyone that passes by is likely (or has likely) gone through something similar, despite what are preconceptions of those ppl may be. And the line chosen is important because it was one that essentially birthed postmodernism. Where poetry before was all 'she is the more beauteous immaculately...she is like a flower to mine eye' bullshit, all of a sudden Eliot compares something to a patient etherized on a table. And it gave us questions, it allowed us to question meaning, as does this album, or as it attempts to anyways, I can't speak to how it was received throughout the world.
    FootOfPrideon September 28, 2011   Link
  • +4
    General CommentFrontman Win Butler told the NME that this garage punk number was inspired by romantic postal liaisons he used to undertake. "In high school I had a letter-writing romance with a girl," he said. "I was trying to remember that time… waiting an entire summer, pretty much half a year, the anxiousness of waiting for letters to arrive."
    He added: "All day every day there's almost this cloud of feeling hanging over everything. We'd [his family] be in Maine, I'd walk down to the post office and come back… the whole day was consumed by that feeling."

    FloridaGuyon October 18, 2011   Link
  • +3
    General CommentJust wondering if anyone else noticed this... "Like a patient on a table"... an allusion to The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot? ("Like a patient etherized upon a table")
    I'm pretty sure Love Song is all about these inhibitions keeping this guy from finding love and in We Used to Wait, Win sings "I'm gonna write a letter to my true love/I'm gonna sign my name" but all of these modern "conveniences" keep him from pursuing the scenario he desires, just like Prufrock. Just a thought.
    CasimirPulaskion August 05, 2010   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI am in my late 30s and I feel a kinship with these band-members when I listen to and think about the lyrics. "We used to wait" is definitely a harking back to when most communication between people wasn't instant.

    I know a lot of the fans of arcade fire are probably younger than them... so maybe they don't understand the actual importance of what has changed over the last 5 to 10 years when it comes to communicating with each other. But I understand.

    This change is very drastic. It is a big deal. Kudos to Arcade Fire for making a song about it.
    mkjcknon April 22, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General Commentthey just keep getting better and better and better. incredible
    antplaygroundon June 19, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI like the use of synths, its new for them i think, and the production is more professional sounding, crisp and tight. You hear it on the group vocals, which usually seemed like live takes before, but at the very end when they sing "wait for it!" there is some heavy processing on the backing vocals, it creates a really fantastic intense sound. Production has always been my niggle with arcade fire, it always sounded like songs were recorded in a living room(some actually were!), but i really prefer this production method more-its less organic maybe, but you get much more nuance, detail.
    So overall, a magnificent track. Lets hope the whole album is this good.
    alligatorsinsewerson June 21, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThe music video for this blew my mind. Most incredible thing I've ever seen. If you havn't seen it:

    thewildernessdowntown.com

    You need Google Chrome to watch it, but it's totally worth it. It takes like 10 seconds to install.
    Rangers49on September 04, 2010   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

Back to top
explain