The Top 20 Jeff Tweedy Songs: Your Turn

Written by August 10th, 2009 at 7:10 am

Tweedy05

We’d like to thank you all….for reading. We’d like to thank you all for reading our blog.

Lists are like fingerprints: everybody’s got their own. But before you say, “we’ve been had,” we want to know your opinion.

Which of you’re favorite songs aren’t on the list,  that deserve to be?  How would you rank Jeff Tweedy’s greatest songs? What are JT’s finest lyrical moments?

Let’s get this party started.

Here’s our top 20:

  1. “Misunderstood”
  2. “Ashes of American Flags”
  3. “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart”
  4. “A Shot In The Arm”
  5. “Hummingbird”
  6. “New Madrid”
  7. “Heavy Metal Drummer”
  8. “Jesus, Etc.”
  9. “Please Tell My Brother”
  10. “Remember the Mountain Bed”
  11. “Laminated Cat”
  12. “Sunken Treasure”
  13. “Gun”
  14. “Wilco (The Song)”
  15. “Impossible Germany”
  16. “I Can’t Keep From Talking”
  17. “She’s A Jar”
  18. “Promising”
  19. “That’s Not The Issue”
  20. “The Long Cut”

  • http://myspace.com/buckybangs Bucky Bangs

    I was hoping to see “Passenger Side” from the AM album on the list. The song was relevant to me when it came out in ’95, and it is relevant now. Shows you how much I’ve grown up. I still don’t have more than “$5 I can put in the tank.”

    “Bob Dylan’s Beard” would also have been nice. I dont’ like the song so much as I’m admirer of the maestro’s actual beard. My beard comes in full, but I always wanted one of those scraggly tweener beards you see so much around trailer parks.

    Otherwise, it was a great list and a joy to read.

  • Jim Shaney

    I would have liked to see more B-sides like Cars Can’t Escape, Venus Stop the Train, etc. I also wanted to see Hell Is Chrome on this list. Best track from A Ghost Is Born, in my opinion.

  • Jimmy W.

    “Via Chicago” is the glaring omission.

    I didn’t like the inclusion of the Woody Guthrie penned lyric “Remember the Mountain Bed” as I don’t think Tweedy adds much to the song musically or artistically. The song is a great lyric, a poem really. I think Tweedy’s greatest accomplishment on those records is “California Stars”. Musically it’s much different than anything Guthrie could have envisioned for the song, but the song wouldn’t work unless it sounded like that. It’s a masterpiece, imo.

    Very solid list in general.

  • matt

    I would have put Impossible Germany in the top 5, that song is by far the best song of Sky Blue Sky. Wico (The Song) is what you picked off the new album, I think that is the worst song on the new album. I would have gone with I’ll Fight, some of my favorite lyrics Jeff has ever written….

    “You’ll wake with a start from a dream
    And know that I am gone
    You’ll feel it in your heart but not for very long

    You’ll rise each day as planned
    Your will as your command
    And stand each Sunday
    A hymnal steady in your hand

    And you’ll sing to yourself the rising, falling melody
    That you could never read
    Without the choir’s lead
    Still alone and lost indeed
    And your soul will not be free

    I will go, I will go, I will go
    Into war’s waters, I will wade
    And I will know without remorse
    Or regret the fairness of our trade

    For you to live, I took your place
    A deal was made and I was paid
    And in gold as I was told
    With a place where my body could be laid

    You will steer your life and die old in bed at home
    Surrounded by your peers
    Without suffering or fear
    Grandchildren far and near
    And none will shed a tear
    For their love no longer here “

  • Amanda

    A fun list to read through…however, I was disappointed that neither At Least That’s What You Said nor Muzzle of Bees were included on the list – the two numbers that, together, make Ghost Tweedy’s master album.

    Also, I agree with Matt. I’ll Fight is one of most beautiful and jarring songs Tweedy has ever written.

  • http://poptartssucktoasted.blogspot.com Pat

    1. Jesus Etc.
    2. Ashes of American Flags
    3. Outtasite (Outta Mind)
    4. When You Wake Up Feeling Old
    5. Heavy Metal Drummer

  • Hamm I Am

    I don’t know that I can even fathom a “top” list of Jeff’s lyrics. They’re that great to me. He is the Lennon of my generation, as far as I’m concerned. You guys did a great job of capturing most of my faves. I might have added Muzzle of Bees, Forget The Flowers, I’m Always In Love, Poor Places, etc. etc. I could go on and on and on.

  • http://twitter.com/noppi Harm Noppers

    I absolutely love ´I’m Always In Love´ though it’s a more straightforward song. Spiders (Kidsmoke) and Impossible Germany would definitely be in my top 5. But just like Hamm I Am said, I could go on and on…

  • Jason

    1- Jesus , etc.
    2- Sunken Treasure
    3- Via Chicago
    4- Misunderstood
    5- Shot in the Arm
    6- Radio King
    7- Poor Places
    8- Pieholden Suite
    9- When You Wake Up Feeling Old
    10- Ashes of American Flags

  • SupJim

    1- Misunderstood
    2- Via Chicago
    3- Ashes of American Flags
    4- She’s a Jar
    5- Forget the Flowers
    6- I Must be High
    7- Handshake Drugs
    8- Impossible Germany
    9- Summer Teeth
    10- Kettle Pot Black

  • Patrick

    A topic I’ve been waiting to discuss for a long time. And great that you’ve included all Tweedy’s library and not just Wilco songs. I’ve always thought about that way too. I’m surprised you left off Muzzle of Bees, Via Chicago (cause everyone seems to love that one), and Screen Door (given your top 15, I thought you’d include it). Here’s mine:

    1. Jesus, etc.
    2. Ashes of American Flags
    3. Shot in the Arm
    4. I’m Trying to Break Your Heart
    5. She’s a Jar
    6. Misunderstood
    7. Muzzle of Bees
    8. Impossible Germany
    9. New Madrid
    10. Hummingbird
    11. Pot Kettle Black
    12. Nothingseverygonnastandinmywayagain
    13. Heavy Metal Drummer
    14. Screen Door
    15. Sunken Treasure
    16. Gun
    17. Lonely 1
    18. Please Tell My Brother
    19. That’s Not the Issue
    20. Far, far away

    If including Tweedy/Guthrie – I would include Remember the Mountain Bed and Airline to Heaven in top 10.

  • Patrick

    It’d be great to get Tweedy himself to respond and list his top 20!

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  • heyward

    I think the answer you get depends on the question you ask. Are we looking for the best song over all or the best written song lyrically? If it is the latter, I don’t know that Impossible Germany makes the list, if the former, it may be number 1.

    that said, here is my list, based on lyrically excellence:

    1. Radio Cure
    2. Misunderstood
    3. Ashes of America Flags
    4. Handshake Drugs
    5. Hummingbird
    6. Via Chicago
    7. Jesus Etc
    8. That’s Not the Issue
    9. Shot in the Arm
    10. Box Full of Letters

    And… Tweedy’s overall best crafted songs:

    1. Via Chicago
    2. Impossible Germany
    3. Misunderstood
    4. Heavy Metal Drummer
    5. Kingpin
    6. Shot in the Arm
    7. Say You Miss Me
    8. Gun
    9. Reservations
    10. I am trying to break your heart

  • deanmarr

    1. Pieholden suite
    2. She’s a jar
    3. Muzzle of bees
    4. War on war
    5. Misunderstood
    6. You are my face
    7. Via chicago
    8. Hell is chrome
    9. Jesus etc
    10. Ashes of america
    11. Impossible germany
    12. Red eyed and blue
    13. How do you fight the lonliness
    14. Solitaire
    15. Shot in the arm
    16. Side with the seeds
    17. Hummingbird
    18. Radio cure
    19. At least that’s what you said
    20. Country disappered

  • mparallen

    OK, I did not look at the lists above,yet, as I do not want them to color my list. This is a good question.

    1. I am trying to break you heart
    2. Misunderstood
    3. Shot in the arm
    4. I must be high
    5. Impossible Germany
    6. At least that’s what you said
    7. Gun
    8. Kamera
    9. Ashes of american flags
    10. Poor places
    11. Bull black nova
    12. New Madrid
    13. Sunken treasure
    14. Hotel Arizona
    15. She’s a jar
    16. Spiders
    17. Acuff Rose
    18. Wilco (the song)
    19. We’ve been had
    20. Handshake drugs

  • mparallen

    21. Theologians

  • Sue

    amazing list and comments
    i found a few new songs and fell in love with wilco again today…..
    not that i had ever fallen out.
    i’ll try to find the chelsea walls soundtrack immediately.

  • http://www.imaninatural.com Brian

    Muzzle of Bees is a personal favorite, seems all but forgotten…only heard it the first time I saw them at Bonnarroo several years ago. I loved it then.

  • http://www.ilike.com/artist/keithcharlesdovoric Keith_Charles_Dovoric

    1. Via Chicago
    2. A Shot in the Arm
    3. War on War
    4. I Am Trying to Break Your Heart
    5. Handshake Drugs
    6. The Ruling Class
    7. Company in My Back
    8. Laminated Cat
    9. Theologians
    10. Forget the Flowers
    11. Hell Is Chrome
    12. Passenger Side
    13. Poor Places
    14. Sunken Treasure
    15. Hate It Here
    16. Country Disappeared
    17. Reservations
    18. You Are My Face
    19. You Never Know
    20. How To Fight Loneliness

  • http://www.ilike.com/artist/keithcharlesdovoric Keith Charles Dovoric

    Runners-up:
    21. Ashes of American Flags
    22. Impossible Germany
    23. Wishful Thinking
    24. I’ll Fight
    25. Monday

  • Lewis Denny

    1. Black Eye 2. Hotel Arizona 3. New Madrid 4. Impossible Germany 5. Wait Up 6. Walk Where He Walked 7. Airline To Heaven 8. Company In My Back 9. Casino Queen 10. Too Far Apart 11. Radio King 12. The Long Cut 13. Jesus Etc. 14. Box Full Of Letters 15. Misunderstood 16. Blue Eyed Soul 17. Spiders (Kidsmoke) 18. We’ve Been Had 19. She’s A Jar 20. Lost Love

  • scott

    1. Please Be Patient With Me

  • Christopher

    01.Via Chicago
    02.I Am Trying To Break Your Heart
    03.Jesus, etc.
    04. Ashes of American Flags
    05.Pieholden Suite
    06.Reservations
    07.Hummingbird
    08.Sunken Treasure
    09.Misunderstood
    10.Radio Cure
    11.A Shot in the Arm
    12.Handshake Drugs
    13.She’s a Jar
    14.Laminated Cat
    15.Black Eye
    16.Gun
    17.The Lonely One
    18.How To Fight Loneliness
    19. We’re Just Friends
    20.Summerteeth

  • remraf

    Oh, lyrically, it’s gotta be:

    1. Student Loan Stereo
    2. I’m A Wheel
    3. Kicking Television
    4. Let’s Hear it for Rock
    5. Just a Kid
    6. ELT
    7. The Late Greats
    8. This Is New
    9. Hey Chicken
    10. Hate it Here

  • http://word.com Chase Jay

    So many of you are ignoring Poor Places.

    Glad to see Hotel Arizona get mentioned.

    We’re Just Friends is another glaring absence.

    There are too many though. Was happy to see Black Eye mentioned as well.

  • http://www.newyorkfruitstand.wordpress.com Miya

    Theologians really, really, really should be on the list. And I think the best track on Wilco (the Album) is definitely One Wing, which also could have been included. Other than that — solid.

  • http://mcohen.me/ Mike Cohen

    Missing from the list:

    You Never Know
    The Late Greats
    No Depression
    Sky Blue Sky
    Bull Black Nova
    Via Chicago
    Kamera
    Radio Cure
    Theologians
    Handshake Drugs

    If you’re including Woody Guthrie songs, California Stars is the greatest ever.

  • http://p90noir.blogspot.com/ P90Noir

    Ultimately, this is a great list. I’m not sure it makes sense to include any of the Mermaid Avenue songs, but if so, I’d agree with Mountain Bed but add One by One and CA Stars.

    As for songs I think are missing:
    Poor Places
    Sunken Treasure
    Pieholden Suite
    Via Chicago
    What Light
    I’ll Fight
    Less Than You Think

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