Required Listenings Top 5: Wilco songs

As mentioned a few months ago, in the past year or so, I’ve absolutely fallen head-over-heels in love with the band Wilco. (Musically, I mean.) And since the albums A Ghost Is Born and Sky Blue Sky, I can listen to straight through (okay, I don’t listen to the whole 15-minute iteration of “Less Than You Think,” but the first two minutes are on my iPod), it’s tough to pick my top five favorite songs by them. And that’s only from their last 5 albums (Summerteeth, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, A Ghost Is Born, Sky Blue Sky, and Wilco (the Album))! But here they are, in their shining glory, starting with number 5…

5. “Hummingbird,” A Ghost is Born

A Ghost is Born could have swept this Top 5, but for the sake of diversity, I’m only choosing one. There are a lot of great guitar-based songs on A Ghost Is Born, from the amazing guitar solo in At Least That’s What You Said, to the searing solo in the bridge of “Hell is Chrome”, to the opening riff of “Handshake Drugs” (one of the few parts of that song I like), to even the interlude on “Theologians and the final cut on the album, “The Late Greats” – it’s easily my favorite album to air-guitar to. However, I chose one of the songs that isn’t guitar based, “Hummingbird,” because lyrically and musically great, and one of the few Wilco songs to have violin. A great song to sing along with.

4. “Sky Blue Sky”, Sky Blue Sky

This is the perfect song to just relax to – a great “chill song,” complete with the lap steel excellence of Nels Cline, who made his Wilco debut on this album. I’m pretty sure this was the first Wilco song I ever heard, and I still love it.

3. “Poor Places,” Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

You know, if you asked me three weeks ago what my favorite songs from 2002’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot were, “Poor Places” wouldn’t even be on the list. Sure, there’s “Jesus, Etc.,” which just missed this list, “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart,” and “Radio Cure,” to name a few, but “Poor Places is starting to stick out in my mind. It’s a very different song – a lot of noise in the background, then the instruments begin to take hold, before conceding to the noise in the end. Unlike “Less Than You Think,” which I don’t think worked at all in terms of being avant-garde (it’s kind of inane, really), “Poor Places” is one of the experimental tracks that really worked.

2. “Everlasting Everything,” Wilco (The Album)

This song I chose for its incredible ending – the ability of Cline is at work again on this track, the last cut on Wilco’s latest album, with an electric ending that sounds almost like birds chirping – I call it the “electric aviary”. It truly is incredible, as is the rest of the song.

But #1 really has no comparison, as it’s

1. “Impossible Germany,” Sky Blue Sky

This song, simply put, made me a Wilco fan. After I heard it the first time, I put it on repeat. From about 2:45 on, it’s much of a work of art as any song ever written. It’s that good.


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