Chart Week: August 1, 1981
Song: “Don’t Want to Wait Anymore” – The Tubes
Chart Position: #37, 7th week on the chart. Peaked at #35 for two weeks.

The Tubes will collect residual checks until they die for one song: “She’s a Beauty,” their #10 smash from the summer of 1983. It is an absolute classic of its era; any list of best songs of the 1980s would be incomplete without it. If you listen to 80’s on 8 on SiriusXM or your local retro station very often, you are guaranteed to hear it a couple times each week. Nearly 40 years after its release, it still immediately reminds me of hanging out with friends at the YMCA day camp pool while Q–104 or ZZ–99 blared out over cheap speakers.

Most folks would consider The Tubes One Hit Wonders. For years I would have argued against that, submitting that they also had a cool song called “Talk To Ya Later.”

For years, it turns out, I was wrong. I remember “Talk To Ya Later” pretty well, but it didn’t even crack the Hot 100, peaking at #101 in 1981. I’m guessing it was resurrected by some DJs after “She’s a Beauty” hit, and that’s how I know it.

The band indeed hit the Top 40 one other time, though, in the summer of 1981 with “Don’t Want to Wait Anymore.” This song is not seared into my brain at all. In fact, when I heard it last week, I was both sure I had never heard it before and shocked that it was The Tubes.[1]

Some of that is because rather than regular lead singer Fee Waybill, guitarist Bill Spooner supplies the vocals here.

I also probably don’t remember it because it kind of sucks.

Seriously, what the hell is this? How did the same band that came up with such a bright, fun, and unforgettable track as “She’s a Beauty” hit the charts with this piece of boring, middle-of-the-road, crap? I would describe “She’s a Beauty” and “Talk To Ya Later” as “Fast Times Rock.” I.e. from that broad swath of early ‘80s music that was equal parts New Wave and straight rock and would have fit nicely onto the soundtrack for Fast Times at Ridgemont High or any other teen movie of the early ‘80s.[2]

This song strikes me as something a band trying hard to sound like Chicago on the state fair circuit might have written, not a group that had serious roots in the art, punk, and glam worlds. I guess there’s a touch of some Styx-like space rock in there, if you listen hard enough. Still, that ain’t New Wave. Hell, if there was a horn section, you could talk me into believing this was a deep track on Chicago 16 or Chicago 17.

I totally get why the rest of the band does not appear in the video. They knew it was trash. I guess the joke was on them, though, as this is the song that saves The Tubes from being a One Hit Wonder by the strictest definition of the term.

  1. Somewhat ironically I heard two different countdowns from August 1981 last week. When I turned on the Sunday morning countdown, what song was playing? Yep, “Don’t Want to Wait Anymore.” The Music Gods make their presence known once again.  ↩

  2. Actually the Fast Times soundtrack is loaded with classic rock, although there are some terrific New Wave tracks on it as well. Maybe the soundtrack for The Last American Virgin would be a better choice. But “Virgin Rock” does not sound right.  ↩