The buoyant pop melody of “Waitin’ on a Sunny Day” and its echoes of Motown and doo-wop may make it sound out of place on Bruce Springsteen’s album The Rising, which is full of grittier songs. But lyrically, it’s really not such an odd fit.
It’s a song of yearning, after all, stemming from a troubled relationship. Springsteen is hoping that “everything’ll be okay,” even though that sunny day he’s hoping for hasn’t come yet.
“Without you, I’m a drummer, girl, that can’t keep a beat/An ice cream truck on a deserted street,” he sings, coming up with some inventive ways to express his sorrow.
“Hard times, baby, well, they come to tell us all/Sure as the tickin’ of the clock on the wall,” he sings later, moving to the universal, as he often does, deep in his songs.
Unlike most of the material on The Rising, “Waitin’ on a Sunny Day” was written before 9/11. At least two years before: Springsteen played an early version of it with the E Street Band at the soundcheck of a Reunion Tour show in the summer of 1999, but the song didn’t make it into the show itself.
In concert, over the years, Springsteen has emphasized the song’s easy-going catchiness, making it into an extended sing-along, often with a child selected from the audience to sing the chorus (see below).
Some hardcore fans have grown tired of the antics; I imagine some may object to the song being included so high on this list. But listen to the straightforward Rising version, below, and remember what it was before it was transformed, in the course of hundreds of concert performances, into something else.
Background facts: Springsteen released “Waitin’ on a Sunny Day” on his 2002 album The Rising. It was not released as a single in the United States, but it was a single in some other countries, and had some success. It rose highest in Sweden, hitting No. 15 on the country’s pop chart.
According to Brucebase, Springsteen performed it 438 times between 2002 and 2017.
On each of the 70 days leading up to Bruce Springsteen’s 70th birthday (on Sept. 23, 2019), NJArts.net will do a post on one of The Boss’ best songs of the last 30 years. We’re starting with No. 70 and working our way up. For more on the project, click here.
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