Listened to Yankee Hotel Foxtrot for the first time in a very long time today, and while every song on the album is good (literally), my surprise favorite is probably the last track, 'Reservations.' Many of Jeff Tweedy's songs give off an air cocky self-assurance that gets under my skin sometimes, but when he deigns to show us his vulnerabilities, it can be pretty disarming. Now, I'm not one for rock ballads, in fact I dislike almost all of them, but when I hear a good one, I fall for it hard. And 'Reservations' is very good. "How can I convince you that it's me I don't like?" is the opening line, and somehow Tweedy spends the rest of the song selling us a bunch of uber-emo lyrics without making us cringe. My favorite line is the chorus: "Oh I've got reservations/ About so many things/ But not about you." Airing personal insecurities can be a songwriter's deathtrap, but when it's pulled off right, it can earn a quick route to the listener's heart. Capping off such an ambitious album with a moment of real sincerity certainly does it for me.
Speaking of great rock ballads, my song of the week is 'Lord I'm Discouraged' by the Hold Steady. Probably my favorite Hold Steady song, in spite of the Manfred Mann-esque guitar theatrics midway through. I go back and forth on Craig Finn's lyrics, but this song is certainly his finest moment as a song-writer, at least of what I've heard. It would be a waste of time for me to attempt to do them justice by discussing them here, so just go out and listen to the song. I will say, however, that the closing line always gives me chills, so I've got to quote it here, just for good measure: "I know it's unlikely she'll ever be mine/ So mostly I just pray she don't die."