Wilco is an alternative rock band that was formed in Chicago, Illinois, in 1994. The group was formed by the remaining members of Uncle Tupelo, an alternative country group, after lead singer Jay Farrar left the band. Singer Jeff Tweedy and bassist John Stirratt are the only remaining original members of the band, as the line-up has changed frequently. At the beginning of their career, the band continued to create alternative country music, as this was their background from their time in Uncle Tupelo. However, they then transitioned into the alternative rock genre of music with some touches of pop in some of their songs. They took their influence from a vast array of artists and groups, including The Beatles, Television, and Bill Fay. Since Wilco was founded, they have released eleven studio albums, five Eps, three live albums, and four videos. Wilco’s most recent album was ‘Ode to Joy,’ which was released in 2019. Although the band has released 20 singles, many of the songs from their albums have become popular amongst fans, despite not being released as singles. Here are the 10 best Wilco songs of all time.
10. Monday (1996)
Wilco had almost decided that it was the end of the line for them when they recorded ‘Monday’ in 1996, and the lyrics of the song reflect their feelings about their lack of success at that time. It is about a band who thinks they are pretty good, but the public seems indifferent to their efforts. The song is a power-pop-style track with a catchy chorus. ‘Monday’ appeared on the 1996 album ‘Being There.’
9. Impossible Germany (2007)
While the first five albums produced by Wilco contained a lot of studio experimentation, they took a different approach with their sixth studio album, ‘Sky Blue Sky.’ One of the best tracks from the album is ‘Impossible Germany.’ The song’s most notable feature is the guitar interplay of Tweedy and Nels Cline in the second half of the track.
8. Spiders (2004)
A popular Wilco song among music critics is ‘Spiders,’ which is a song from the 2004 album ‘A Ghost is Born.’ During the time when this song was written and recorded, Tweedy was struggling with drug addiction. The lyrics in many of his songs, including ‘Spiders,’ contained metaphors to describe how he was feeling at that time.
7. Sunken Treasure (1996)
‘Sunken Treasure’ was the first track on disc two of the 1996 album ‘Being There.’ According to Tweedy, this song was largely improvised when they were in the studio developing bonus material for the album. It eventually became a double album as the band felt they had created a lot of good material.
6. Remember the Mountain Bed (2002)
‘Remember the Mountain Bed’ is listed as one of the best Wilco songs of all time by Album Reviews. It is a track that featured on the 2002 album ‘Mermaid Avenue Vol. II.’ Billie Bragg collaborated with Wilco on this song and used Woody Guthrie’s lyrics. The song is about an old man remembering his first love and how it motivated him through his life.
5. Via Chicago (1999)
‘Via Chicago’ is a track from the 1999 album ‘Summerteeth.’ It is a chilling murder ballad about a man who dreams of killing his partner. However, it is also a tribute to Tweedy’s hometown, Chicago, and the city’s notorious killing floors that were used to stock animals and resulted in rivers of blood seeping out of the building. The lyrics suggest that Tweedy does not really like the way that Chicago makes him feel, but it is all that he knows.
4. California Stars (1998)
The Current lists ‘California Stars’ as one of the best Wilco songs of all time. It was a track that featured on the album ‘Mermaid Avenue’ in 1998. The album consisted of previously unheard music written by Billy Bragg. When Bragg wrote this song, he was living at a friend’s house in Long Beach, and he was inspired by the location. The song talks about the dreams and desires that can be fulfilled under the California stars.
3. Ashes of American Flags (2002)
‘Ashes of American Flags is a song from the album ‘Yankee Hotel Foxtrot,’ which was released in 2002. Wilco has been influenced by many other artists from various genres, and this song feels like they have accumulated all their influences to create this unique track. The lyrics describe the mundanity of normal life and how people lie to fulfill their own wishes and desires. This song featured in the soundtrack of a film of the same name.
2. Nothing’severgonnastandinmyway (Again) (1999)
One of the best tracks from the 1999 album ‘Smmerteeth’ is ‘Nothing’severgonnastandinmyway (Again).’ It differs from the other tracks on the album, as it has more of a pop feel. Jay Bennett stands out on this track for his stunning backing vocals and harmonies. As the name of the song suggests, it is about how the singer does not want things to stand in his way anymore.
1. Misunderstood (1996)
According to Stereogum, the best Wilco song of all time is ‘Misunderstood,’ which appeared on their 1996 album ‘Being There.’ This song was considered the transitional track that took the band members from their past in the alternative country genre into alternative rock. It is a slow-burning track, and the lyrics are about how many things in life are dull and disappointing.