“Tall buildings shake
Voices escape singing sad, sad songs
Tuned to chords strung down your cheeks
Bitter melodies turning your orbit around.”
On the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, it seems only appropriate to revisit the song from an album that, despite being written before the attacks took place, so perfectly captured the heightened anxiety and fear that dominated the consciousness of millions during that time.
The chorus of “Jesus, Etc.” in particular counterbalances the more optimistic celebration of New York that came from Ryan Adams’ “New York, New York” or even the anthemic turn that Bruce Springsteen brought with his release The Rising.
Much of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is insular, haunting and occasionally dissonant– and the first two attributes, in particular, are in full force on this song. The production is incredibly intimate, and the rising chords add a silver lining to Tweedy’s melancholy vocals.
What makes Yankee Hotel Foxtrot such a masterpiece– much in the same way Wilco has consistently shown throughout their discography– is a sense of pacing and never making any moment any bigger or smaller than it needs to be. By providing every note the time to breathe and take on its atmosphere, Wilco delivers a hefty weight without overdoing it.