The Beatles


Song Review by

Though Rubber Soul has been rightly seen as an album representing a juncture of enormous creative growth for the Beatles, a couple of its songs were in fact leftovers from previous recording sessions. One was "What Goes On," which had been considered for recording in early 1963 (although it wasn't taped at that point). The other was "Wait," which had first been recorded during the Help! sessions, but not used for that album. Under extreme pressure to finish enough material for Rubber Soul so that the album could be released before the end of 1965, "Wait" was retrieved from the vault, some overdubs added, and the result added to the Rubber Soul LP. Listening to the song, it's not clear why it wasn't initially deemed up to par. It's not one of the best songs on Rubber Soul, but it's good, and fits into the record comfortably enough. Beatles songs were so unorthodoxly structured (by rock music standards, certainly) that it was virtually common for even filler album tracks to have unusual aspects, and "Wait" is just one more example. The tempo, again like not a few other Beatles songs, has a jerky stop-start quality, and the vocal lines on the verses alternated between a solo lead singer (John Lennon) and harmonized parts, Lennon's opening words almost acting as the call to the rest of the lines' response. There aren't a whole lot of Beatles songs that sit primarily in minor keys, but "Wait" is one of those, boasting one of Lennon-McCartney's most sorrowful melodies, though it bursts into a somewhat sunnier mode at the end of the verses, when it seems as though the long-gone narrator is on the verge of being reunited with his loved one. The rhythm evens out into a slightly edgy but more regular pulse in the bridge, as the vocal, as though it just might be hiding something, promises that he's been as good as he could be during his long absence. As an aside, a few early Beatles songs made a whole storyline out of men coming home to their lover after a long absence, with almost irritated impatience for the reunion; "When I Get Home" and "A Hard Day's Night" are other examples, and perhaps "Wait" reflected the Beatles' anxiety at being separated from their wives and girlfriends for long periods during their hectic touring days. Instrumentally, the most memorable feature of "Wait" is George Harrison's eerie tone pedal guitar, used tastefully here, particularly at the end of the bridges and at the very end of the song. At that point the Beatles' vocals slow down into an almost mournful hymn-like phrase, followed by elongated tone pedal notes that sound almost like a slowed-down record, or waves receding away from the shore.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Rubber Soul 1965 Apple Records / Capitol 2:14
The Ultimate Box Set 1995 Capitol 2:16
The Capitol Albums, Vol. 2 2006 Apple / Capitol / EMI 2:14
The Beatles: Stereo Box Set 2009 Capitol 2:14
The Beatles USB 2009 Capitol / EMI 2:14
The U.S. Albums 2014 Capitol / Universal 2:15