Sometimes The Best Short Story Is A Song (#13)

I got Wilco’s debut album, “A.M.,” when it came out because I liked the song “Box Full of Letters.” But it wasn’t until they released their second album, “Being There,” that I really sat up and took notice. There are a lot of great songs on this ambitious double album, including “Outtasite (Outta Mind),” “I Got You (At The End of the Century)” and “Sunken Treasure”—but nothing quite as anthemic as the opening track “Misunderstood.” Channeling the sort of angsty, suburban shiftlessness previously perfected by Paul Westerberg, “Misunderstood” gives a sneak peek into the musical direction the band would later perfect on “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.”

Have you ever wondered what happened to those kids that stayed behind after high school? The one’s who smoked a little more weed than they dealt and were still digging into KISS, Black Sabbath and Led Zepplin when their friends had moved on to The Replacements, The Pixies and Nirvana. Jeff Tweedy’s lyrics can always be a bit of a mystery, but there is a hopelessness and depression that echoes throughout this song like a drunk screaming at the top of his lungs as he walks down Main Street in the middle of the night. Nobody is listening, and he feels like nobody has ever been listening. Which all makes the final lyrical crescendo that much more sad and profound—”I’d like to thank you all for nothin’, I’d like to thank you all for nothin’ at all…”

Read the lyrics to “Misunderstood” HERE.

Previous installments in this series: