The Top 20 Jeff Tweedy Songs: #6 “New Madrid”
Band: Uncle Tupelo
Album: Anodyne (1993)
Co-writer: Jay Farrar
Key lyric: “All my daydreams are disasters/ She’s the one I think I love /Rivers burn and then run backwards/ For her, that’s enough.”
“New Madrid” may take the prize for Jeff Tweedy’s most memorable melody. It’s also among Uncle Tupelo’s sunniest- sounding numbers (outside of “Acuff-Rose.”)
The chorus is easy to misunderstand to the uninitiated (“Steph won’t even be still, Karen’s over the landfill” goes one common misinterpretation), but you don’t have to know exactly what Tweedy means when he sings “death won’t even be still, it caroms over the landfill” to get the message.
The title references New Madrid, Missouri (Tweedy hails from Belleville, Illinois, one state away), home of the New Madrid Seismic Zone, the source of numerous Midwestern earthquakes.