The Waiting (song)

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"The Waiting"
Single by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
from the album Hard Promises
ReleasedApril 20, 1981
RecordedEarly 1981
Songwriter(s)Tom Petty
Producer(s)Tom Petty, Jimmy Iovine
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers singles chronology
"Even the Losers"
"The Waiting"
"A Woman in Love (It's Not Me)"
Music video
"The Waiting" on YouTube

"The Waiting" is the lead single from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' album Hard Promises released in 1981. The song peaked at #19 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart and #1 on the magazine's new Rock Tracks chart, where it remained for six consecutive weeks during the summer of 1981.[3]

The song was later reissued as the b-side to the single-only release of "Mary Jane's Last Dance" in 1993.


Frontman Tom Petty explained that the song's title was inspired by a quote from fellow musician Janis Joplin, who once said of touring, "I love being onstage and everything else is just waiting."[4] He recalled:

That's where I think I got it from ... [Roger] McGuinn swears that he said it to me. Maybe he did. I don't think so. I think I got it from the Janis Joplin quote. That's where it stuck in my mind. I don't think she said, 'The waiting is the hardest part,' but it was something to that effect: 'Everything else is just waiting.' And so that's where that came from.[4]


Record World praised Petty's vocal performance and said that "Those guitars ring, soar & jingle-jangle with enough rock n' roll passion to warm the most jaded heart."[5]


In popular culture[edit]

The song was used in The Simpsons episode "The Cartridge Family", during a sequence where Homer was subjected to a five-day waiting period after buying a gun.

"The Waiting" was used in a promotional spot for the fifth season of the hit television comedy series, The Office.[6]

The song is played at Philadelphia Flyers and Wisconsin Badgers home games, when a goal or other play is under review by officials.

Petty performed the song on It's Garry Shandling's Show in 1987.

The song was used on Chicago television news in 1995, as the public awaited news of Michael Jordan's return to the NBA.

Comedian Steve Goodie wrote and recorded a parody of the song titled "Ned Beatty Had the Hardest Part," which became a staple on radio morning shows, like The Bob & Tom Show, in the mid-1990s.

When the Houston Astros won the 2017 World Series, the song was played on FOX after the trophy presentation.



Chart (1981) Peak
Canadian RPM Top Singles 6
New Zealand Singles Chart 27
U.S. Billboard Top Tracks 1
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 19
U.S. Cashbox Top 100 14

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Pollock, Bruce (18 March 2014). Rock Song Index: The 7500 Most Important Songs for the Rock and Roll Era. Taylor & Francis. p. 1757. ISBN 978-1-135-46303-8.
  2. ^ Elbel, Jeff (June 30, 2017). "Not even the rain can steal Tom Petty's thunder in Wrigley Field". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved December 21, 2019.
  3. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, 8th Edition (Billboard Publications), page 490.
  4. ^ a b Lifton, Dave. "How Janis Joplin Inspired Tom Petty's 'The Waiting'". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved 26 May 2021.
  5. ^ "Hits of the Week" (PDF). Record World. May 2, 1981. p. 1. Retrieved 2023-02-27.
  6. ^ YouTube clip - NBC promo for the 5th season of The Office, featuring "The Waiting"

External links[edit]