My Top 1000 Songs #275: Misunderstood

[I've been writing up my Top 1000 songs on a daily basis--you can see them all in descending order by hitting the All My Favorite Songs tag.]

Wilco's 1995 debut was a natural continuation of Jeff Tweedy's work with Uncle Tupelo, amiable Americana and roots rock, an underrated record but no grand statement. That changed in the opening seconds of the 1996 follow-up Being There, a sprawling double-LP (one of the great 2-fers of the post-vinyl age). "Misunderstood" is a declaration of intent, from the opening feedback & drum scrawl to the Americana-tinged acoustic centerto the scorching back-end with its throat-shredding "I'd like to thank you all for NOTHING" howls of despair and/or anger.

And while Tweedy had been writing great songs since his early Tupelo days, the reach here is spectacular, soul-searing couplets that cross youthful angst with rock & roll salvation. "Short on long-term goals, there's a party there that we oughta go to. Do you still love rock and roll?" bleeds into "You know you're just a mama's boy, positively unemployed, so misunderstood." Barely two albums into Wilco's long run and Tweedy has already come up with the inevitable culmination of the Stones' "Satisfaction" and the Replacements' "Unsatisfied."

There's a sense of claustrophobia to the production here that I find holds the studio version back a bit. (A couple albums later, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot's "I Am Trying To Break Your Heart" updates the theme and scope of "Misunderstood" while giving it a more fully-realized sonic texture.) But on stage, Tweedy and co. let loose and give the song the power it deserves.

Live in 1999:
Acoustic live in 2015:
Live in 2010: