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  • Writer's pictureVanessa Saenz

Waiting Room - Phoebe Bridgers

In honor of UIC Radio’s birthday last week (2/8/24), the 24-hour show this weekend  (2/23-24/24), and all the talk about celebrations and time, etc. I started to interpret a song that featured things of the sort. 


I like music, not just for the way it sounds or how it makes me feel but also for the storytelling aspect the writer maybe hadn't noticed. Because of this, I find myself at times interpreting lyrics.


Verse 1



It opens with the idea that this could be a teacher-student relationship. If not, it could be someone older than Phoebe (the artist) or the audience (you). This summarizes how they would be failing their class willingly or staying behind to get their attention "till you noticed me."

It continues to say they would stay in their waiting room even if it's harming them, "I would never see a doctor." She knows they are getting in trouble and is now hurt, but she would still sit there and ponder until they are noticed.

Moving forward, it shows although she could be vulnerable, she wants to be powerful, "want to be the power ballad." The sense of being that one person can lift you up but at the same time put you down, to have complete control to "feed your misery." Then, this verse closes by initiating the idea that it won't be possible even though this is what she wants from this person and/or relationship. "And I can wish all that I want, but it won't bring us together." As well as the repetition that she may be hurt and that anything can be thrown at her. "Whatever happens to me," she will still be okay. "I know it's for the better."


Verse 2



Both parties have been hurt and are now experiencing it. This also suggests the violent ways they feel towards one another, the draining dying feeling, yet with all these, she is asking "for more, more, more."

The terms/phrases "breathing in my open mouth," "gun in my lips," and "brains out" indicate that she is still aware of the physical pain that can come from this person/relationship but still accepts it as it is the only way they have their love.

This verse closes by reintroducing how they still want that power, that soft spot for them, and their attention. She also compares this relationship to the one she had with her parents, the potential love compared to the genuine love for their daughter.


Outro

This is the main lyrics everyone is familiar with, as they hear it constantly on social media platforms. There are many interpretations.

One thing to keep in mind is the REPETITION! I ask, "Is she trying to convince herself or the readers?" or "Is she self-thinking, and this is the only way to help her move on?"

The main idea comes from after all the hurt and impossible wants; their parting ways IS for the BETTER.

In the middle of this verse, there is a specific part where the music builds up; there is a higher tension, and everything becomes louder.


Many have interpretations for these lyrics, just as it could be 1 of 3 things, depending on how they sound to you:


  1. "Know it's for the better"

  2. "Know, it's for the better"

  3. "No, it's for the better"


To me, there is a shift after the music starts to build louder, and I hear "no" instead of "know." It's as if I am being convinced that it is for the better. At the very end, it sort of calms down. It starts to sound like a small whisper: a sad acceptance of what she just said.



I don't always interpret lyrics; sometimes, it just comes to me, especially if it's a song I identify with, or there are a lot of contexts to work with. "Waiting Room" is one of those songs I noticed has a lot of free space for interpretation; it was perfect for a blog!!!


— tune in for more stories from #lachurrosstories 




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