What do you think is the most popular song by American music artist Tom Petty? well, I’m pretty sure everyone has their own opinion and thought on which of Petty’s song is the most popular. However, I’m also sure that many would agree that ‘The Waiting’ is one of his most influential and iconic songs of all time.
But did you know that Petty was inspired by Janis Joplin to write this song? well, Petty took his time writing this song. He only had a riff for the opening of the song and he kept trying to create something and that is when he remembered Joplin which then inspired him to write the song. So how exactly did Janis Joplin inspire him to write a classic masterpiece? that is what we are going to discuss below.
Tom Petty explains how Janis Joplin inspired him to write The Waiting
It is not surprising that Petty was inspired by a fellow music artist, there are a whole lot of musicians who inspire each other. Furthermore, talking about The Waiting, was featured on Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ fourth studio album Hard Promises which was released back in 1981.
And according to Petty as he was trying to create something, he remembered Janis Joplin’s quote which inspired to write him this song. Furthermore, as mentioned above, he only had the central riff for opening the song but did not know what he should do next. He explained, “That’s all I had, I did that for weeks. And then finally I hit on, ‘The waiting is the hardest part / Every day you get one more yard…’ And then I’d go, ‘Now what?’ You eat dinner, you come back, sit down, pick up the guitar. People start banging on the wall. ‘Don’t play that anymore!”
Then one day he was having a conversation with The Byrds’ frontman and leader, Roger McGuinn when he got the inspiration to write and complete his song. It was revealed in Petty’s book Conversations With Tom Petty, “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.”
Petty said he remembered one of Joplin’s quotes, “I love being onstage and everything else is just waiting.” And although we can also clearly see in his song how he was inspired. Furthermore, although McGuinn told him that he was the one who said it to him, Petty does not think so and he sticks to saying that he got it from Joplin’s quote.
It is really sad that this legend is no more with us, Petty passed away back on October 2, 2017, at the age of 66 years old. Apparently, the musician died of mixed medications.