Posted by: Nathan | January 21, 2007

Waiting on the World to Change

Don’t think I’m about to call John Mayer a sage or a poet, but the first track off of his latest album Continuum really struck a chord with me. For those who don’t own the disc, here are the words:

“Waiting On The World To Change”

Me and all my friends
We’re all misunderstood
They say we stand for nothing and
There’s no way we ever could

Now we see everything that’s going wrong
With the world and those who lead it
We just feel like we don’t have the means
To rise above and beat it

So we keep waiting
Waiting on the world to change
We keep on waiting
Waiting on the world to change

It’s hard to beat the system
When we’re standing at a distance
So we keep waiting
Waiting on the world to change

Now if we had the power
To bring our neighbors home from war
They would have never missed a Christmas
No more ribbons on their door
And when you trust your television
What you get is what you got
Cause when they own the information, oh
They can bend it all they want

That’s why we’re waiting
Waiting on the world to change
We keep on waiting
Waiting on the world to change

It’s not that we don’t care,
We just know that the fight ain’t fair
So we keep on waiting
Waiting on the world to change

And we’re still waiting
Waiting on the world to change
We keep on waiting waiting on the world to change
One day our generation
Is gonna rule the population
So we keep on waiting
Waiting on the world to change

Okay, that was pretty repetitive to read, and you’re missing out on the excellent xylophone hook and melody. However, I pretty much agree with Mayer’s sentiments about our generation (I’m not sure what the kids are calling our generation these days—Karen would know). People I know who are near my age sincerely do care about all kinds of social issues on all sides of the political spectrum, but there is little actually done about anything. Mayer’s claim here is the inactivity does not equate to apathy, i.e. we desire change, but don’t believe we have the power to bring it about.

He’s also dead-on about our mistrust of the system(s). The line about trusting one’s television is certainly apropos, and in my eyes its a microcosm of how this generation feels about a number of institutions, especially political ones. We’ve lost faith that our votes/beliefs will bring about any actual results. One can blame the elected people for inactivity (and one should), but I’ve heard a lot of people questioning larger apparati of politics: should we have a real third party? electoral college? different voting methods?

One day our generation will rule the population, but the question this song raises for me is, should we wait until then? Yes, the system is corrupt (regardless of which system we discuss), yes, we feel powerless, and yes, what we do won’t have all the effects we desire. Does that mean we shouldn’t try? I haven’t decided myself. Your thoughts/opinions are welcome as always.

Great song.


  1. Great post! And a great album, to boot. It’s very much a “I’m in a transient stage of my life–I don’t want to grow old, but I’m sick of being treated like a kid” type album. Good stuff.

  2. I do like the lyrics, but I can’t stand John Mayer! I guess it must be his voice…I’ll give him props, though.

  3. Nathan Nathan Nathan, what is happening to you? This song is whiny, and I haven’t liked it from the first time I heard it. In fact, I’ve been meaning to see just how much you hated it. You’ve gone soft!

    P.S. I still want to hear the rest of the album, though.

  4. Whiny, eh? Well, I’m glad to have a contrary viewpoint inserted into the conversation. Do you find his voice whiny, or is it the message of his song that you object to? Or both? I was hoping someone would have a problem with this worldview.

  5. Since Karen broke the ice, I’ll finally chime in too.

    Last time I checked, John Mayer was 29. Exactly how much more power does he think he and his peers are going to gain as time goes on? Sure, old voters will die and younger generations will come of age, but our generation isn’t being oppressed or ignored. Votes don’t count for more or less based on the voter’s age. Cry me a river, Mayer.

    As for his anti-war slant, I’d remind him that plenty of his generation disagrees with him there. And while inactivity does not equate to apathy, it does seriously diminish any weight your complaints carry.

    I could go on, but I won’t. I’m saddened that you guys have any respect for the lyrics of this song, let alone adoration.

  6. Whoops! I had meant to use that last sentence as part of something funny to say and close with. But while I couldn’t think of anything good, I forgot to delete it.

    It doesn’t make me sad. You guys can love what you want. In fact, I enjoy a healthy debate.

    Now as for liking John Mayer in the first place…

  7. Wow! Such vehemence from Jason; who’d have thought? I completely agree about his anti-war stance, but I still think he’s onto something here.

    As for liking him to begin with, I think PK’s a bigger fan than I. However, I’ll let Room for Squares speak for itself. “Why Georgia?”, “My Stupid Mouth,” “Neon.” The guy can play.

  8. Well, I do like Neon. I kind of forgot about that. 😉

  9. No, I don’t think his voice is whiny, I really like his voice. It’s his message in the song. I’m waiting, I’m not empowered, I’m too lazy to get involved in the fight/debate/election processes. You are not unempowered – you have 26 gazillion people listening to your song right now! Use your power toward something. And if your cause doesn’t succeed, that’s how it goes. It’s democracy. Everyone gets a vote, and yours isn’t the only one. C’mon John.

  10. I’m torn here. I’m also over a year late for the debate, but since I’m not a music fan, I just heard the song. I like it. I’m 28 myself and about as Conservative as they come but I do think that many young Americans (under 30) feel like there is nothing they can do to have their voices heard. Part of that is naivety and part of that is a function of todays huge population and government. I think Mayer strikes a cord with alot of younger Americans. I’ve studied the lyrics and to be honest I don’t hear anything partisan or anti-war in the lyrics. When he talks about “Now if we had the power
    To bring our neighbors home from war
    They would have never missed a Christmas
    No more ribbons on their door
    ” I think he echoes the sentiments of all Americans, liberal and conservative. We want our soldiers home, not at war, some of us just know it has to be done. Even those of us who are “ultra-cons” or “neo-cons” would bring out service members home if we could. In the next portion of that verse he also attacks the drive by media, which ofcourse I love. No, I think Mayer takes a neutral political stance here and while it could be made controversial, I don’t think it is and I think it is a good theme to display the attitudes of many young Americans as they progress in life.

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