"Waitin' Around To Die" was Townes Van Zandt's first single, and he said it was the first song he ever wrote. Van Zandt's first wife, Fran, says that he wrote the song in a walk-in closet that he'd converted into a home studio in their apartment. She was disappointed because she'd been expecting a love song or at least something happier.
In "Waitin' Around To Die," the main character is a lost soul bouncing around through life seeking distraction from the awareness of his own mortality. He seeks distraction first in gambling and drinking, and finally in codeine. In some ways the song echoes Van Zandt's struggles with substance abuse. Van Zandt's close friend and fellow musician Guy Clark said that in grade school Van Zandt learned that the sun is slowly burning out. Upon hearing that, he could find no reason to take much of anything seriously, and certainly not the daily responsibilities of life.
Townes Van Zandt's song makes me think about how people cope with their demons, and how many of us, from time-to-time, have simply had enough of our fate, and are just "waitin' around to die".