You Can’t Always Get What You Want

George Michael’s ‘Waiting for That Day’ is also known as ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’, as that line recurs in the song as its last words, becoming it most memorable ones (while the real title only appears once in the lyrics). Actually the longer title happened to be the title of a song by Rolling Stones (, that inspired George Michael to write the song. This song seems quite popular in recent American singing auditions, as gleaned in the Glee Project.

The song is about a bunch of conflicted emotions – about missing a lost love, pining for her return, while thinking about finding someone else. It sings of being sure of never being able to see this person again, while being unable to forget her, while thinking one deserves to see her too. After all the mixed feelings expressed, the last words seem to be a solemn reminder, a reality check… ‘You can’t always get what you want’… as the music fades.

So, what is this song to you? About fretting, waiting for that day of getting what you want, that might never come, or about making peace with the fact that you can’t always get what you want, especially if it is samsaric and fleeting in nature? Not being able to get the desired is one the forms of suffering highlighted by the Buddha in the First Noble Truth.

No, you can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
And if you try sometime you find
You get what you need

– Chorus of ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ by Rolling Stones

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