Friday, April 4, 2014

Song #502 of 9999 - One Sunday Morning by Wilco

Song #502 of 9999

Title: One Sunday Morning (Song for Jane Smiley's Boyfriend)
Artist: Wilco
Year: 2011
Album: The Whole Love

Short post tonight about a long song. Twelve minutes long! It must be an epic prog-rock thing, right? Nope, just a strophic folk song with minimal instrumentation and verse after verse relating a conversation about religion between Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy and author Jane Smiley's boyfriend (whoever that is).

I first heard this song live in concert at the Meriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, MD. The song was played by Tweedy with just an acoustic guitar in the middle of their set. I remember saying to my friend Erik (frequent contributor to the blog) that I wasn't sure if the song was "working" or "going over very well" or something like that. It was interesting to watch the revved-up crowd completely deflate while the concert ground to a halt. If memory serves, The Whole Love hadn't been released yet, so no-one knew the song and it......was......loooooooong. Erik, naturally more attuned to the artist than I, said he thought it was remarkably brave to play it and I simultaneously admired Tweedy and Erik just a little bit more at the thought. 

Later on, I remembered the catchy guitar riff and, upon hearing the studio recording, found myself enjoying this experimental (for attention-span-lacking 21st century fans) folk ballad more than I ever thought I would. There is something meditative about the song's repetition that is fulfilling in a way I haven't experienced in pop music for some time. I hope you enjoy it.


  1. This is my favorite song off of the album. I have probably listened to it a dozen or more times since we first heard it at the concert. I love the way Nels Cline and the other instrumentalists adds those fingerprints to characterize each verse. Little things like the intervals played on the piano during "I can hear those bells" could come across as corny in lesser hands. Mikael Jorgenson adds so much to this with his intuitive keyboard responses. These touches make those poignant lyrics even more striking.

    I don't get the Jane Smiley's Boyfriend thing and didn't even know this tune had a subtitle. The lyrics to me are about a strained relationship between father/son. And that strain has its source in God and religion (thus the religious allusions). I have my interpretation but I'll leave it to the listener.

    Great song, concert and post!

    1. The tiny bit of research I did revealed that the song was written after Tweedy had an actual conversation with Jane Smiley's boyfriend. The source was an interview with Jane Smiley herself. *shrug* FWIW.

      But yeah, the spare arrangement is really nice and I like the song way more than I ever thought I would. I love it when my pop music heroes know what I want and need more than I do.