Our top 10 Jeff Tweedy songs list looks at the solo work of an American singer best known for his significant role in the success of the band Wilco. The Illinois native started his musical pursuits in the early ‘80s as a member of the alternative country band Uncle Tupelo. At the band Uncle Tupelo, Jeff Tweedy played both the guitar and bass while still making some vocal contributions.
Unfortunately, Uncle Tupelo disbanded after the departure of the band’s lead vocalist Jay Farrar. Jay went ahead to form the critically acclaimed alt-country/alt-rock band Son Volt. Jeff Tweedy led other members of the defunct band Uncle Tupelo in the formation of the Grammy Award-winning band Wilco. Tweedy took the lead vocals role in their new band while making guitar and bass contributions too.
About two decades after his membership as the frontman of the band Wilco, Jeff Tweedy took a shot at a solo career. However, this wasn’t his first time going solo. One of his most notable initial solo pursuits can be traced as early as 2006 when he recorded his live solo performance Sunken Treasure: Live in the Pacific Northwest. Jeff Tweedy also contributed a cover song to the soundtrack LP of the Bob Dylan biopic I’m Not There.
In 2014, Jeff Tweedy formed a band going by the moniker Tweedy. The band comprised Jeff and his son Spencer Tweedy. Tweedy has since released one studio album, Sukierae. The twenty-track album was a massive success reaching position twenty-one on the Billboard 200 Chart. Eventually, Jeff Tweedy went fully solo in 2017. Since then, the singer has issued four studio albums from which we have sampled our top 10 Jeff Tweedy songs.
In 2017, Jeff Tweedy issued his debut solo studio album Together at Last. Together at Last was issued through the Jeff Tweedy/Tony Margherita-founded label dBpm Records. The label has been credited with having issued several albums by Wilco and posthumous albums by Daniel Johnson and Pop Staples.
Together at Last was primarily centered around Jeff Tweedy’s covers of some of the best Wilco songs (including some deep cuts). The eleven-track album gives us a taste of Jeff Tweedy’s acoustic nuances of the previously recorded song. While his vocals almost remain the same, we get some fresh (and subtle) guitar overdubs and luscious harmonica tunes. The album was produced by Jeff Tweedy in conjunction with Tom Schtick.
Other artists/bands that have worked with Tom Shtick include Wilco, Norah Jones, Beth Hirsch, She & Him, Johnny Society, Ryan Adams, and Rufus Wainwright. Together at Last was a success in the mainstream peaking at position forty-nine on the Billboard 200 Chart. Some of the notable cover tracks by Jeff Tweedy featured on this album include “Dawned on Me,” “Lost Love,” and “I’m Trying to Break Your Heart.”
Jeff Tweedy returned in 2018 with his sophomore studio album, Warm. The album was issued through dBpm Records under the production of Jeff Tweedy. Joining Jeff Tweedy in this album were his sons Spenser and Sammy. Both Spenser and Sammy contributed some synth tunes in different songs on the album. Sammy went ahead to deliver some backing vocals together with Ava Brennan while Spencer teamed up with Wilco-affiliated member Glenn Kotche on the drums.
Warm was also critically acclaimed reaching position eighty-seven on the Billboard 200 Chart. The album also graced the Belgian and Scottish Albums Charts, peaking at position seventy-five and eighty-three, respectively. Notably, the album featured eleven new songs all penned by Jeff Tweedy. Some of the best Jeff Tweedy songs from the studio album Warm include “Bombs Above,” “Let’s Go Rain,” “Having Been Is No Way to Be,” and “I Know What It’s Like.”
In 2019, Jeff Tweedy returned with his third studio album Warmer. The album once again featured his sons Sammy and Spencer Tweedy in photography and drums, respectively. Jeff produced this album once again with Tom Schick. Unfortunately, Warmer performed dismally in the mainstream compared to Jeff Tweedy’s previous releases. Nevertheless, the album is home to some of the popular solo songs by Jeff Tweedy including “Family Ghost,” “Sick Server,” and Guaranteed.”
Love Is the King, issued in 2020, marked Jeff Tweedy’s fourth and most recent solo studio album. The album was issued through dBpm Records under the production of Jeff Tweedy in conjunction with Tom Schick. Love Is the King saw Jeff Tweedy rekindle his mainstream appeal with the album making it to the eleventh spot on the Billboard Top Rock Albums Chart.
The album also graced the Billboard 200 Chart peaking at number eighty-nine. Love Is the King impressed on the UK Americana Albums where it peaked at the sixteenth spot. The album title track, “Guess Again,” “Gwendolyn,” and “Save It for Me” are some of the best Jeff Tweedy songs from the record.
Jeff Tweedy’s Accolades and Legacy
Jeff Tweedy’s musical pursuits under Uncle Tupelo and Wilco remain the highlight of his career as a musician. His membership with these bands makes him a significant figure of the ‘80s and ‘90s alt-country scene. However, his solo musical pursuits give us an extension of his creative boundaries.
Jeff Tweedy has also seen his songwriting skills catapult him to even greater standards with his band Wilco primarily depending on his magnificent lyricism. Other than singing and songwriting, Jeff Tweedy is a prolific harmonica, bass, and guitar player. Jeff Tweedy is also a renowned author and record producer. Here we present the ten best Jeff Tweedy songs sampled from his solo albums/pursuits.
Spoiler Alert: Our top 10 Jeff Tweedy songs lack any of his Uncle Tupelo/Wilco covers. We also didn’t feature any of the songs from his side project Tweedy (through which he released one studio album).
Welcoming us to our top 10 Jeff Tweedy songs list is the heartfelt hit “Guaranteed.” The song was featured on the singer’s third studio album Warmer. “Guaranteed,” as Jeff Tweedy divulges, is a song penned for his wife. The song is delivered with some delicate acoustic guitar work which complements its heartfelt lyrics and emotive vocal delivery by Jeff Tweedy.
The heartfelt lyrics take center stage in this song. It is beautiful how Jeff states that he is a piece of work while his wife is no walk in the park. Of course, we have heard Jeff Tweedy joke that he earlier thought of using the lyrics “I’m a piece of work, but you’re a work of art,” quoting that the description was too good. However, for the listeners, the move to relate his wife as a “no walk in the park” elucidates more about how none of us remains perfect. Quite a relatable pick it is to its listeners!
#9- Simple Twist of Fate
Jeff Tweedy has released tons of covers in his solo sessions. However, listing Jeff’s covers of songs released in the bands, Wilco and Uncle Tupelo, would have sounded more like cliché (for some). However, there’s one cover song that won’t disappoint—that’s the hit “Simple Twist of Fate.”
“Simple Twist of Fate” was initially issued by the legendary singer-songwriter Bob Dylan in 1975. The song saw Bob Dylan sharing lyrics about a romantic relationship. Jeff Tweedy went ahead to cover the song in 2007—his cover was featured in the soundtrack of the film I’m Not There. The theme of this song allows singer Jeff Tweedy to deliver his signature emotive vocals.
#8- Having Been Is No Way to Be
Coming in at number eight on our top 10 Jeff Tweedy songs list is the charming song “Having Been Is No Way to Be.” The song is featured on Jeff Tweedy’s sophomore studio album Warm. “Having Been Is No Way to Be” is an extension of Jeff Tweedy’s introspective songwriting style. In this song, Jeff Tweedy reflects on his addiction to drugs.
This reflective piece of art is dominated by Jeff Tweedy’s acoustic guitar tunes. The light percussions in the song combine with the delicate piano tunes to perfectly complement Jeff Tweedy’s acoustic guitar tunes. “Having Been Is No Way to Be” adds to Jeff Tweedy’s repertoire of songs with a profound lyrical approach.
#7- Guess Again
“Guess Again” is yet another impressive fan-favorite pick from Jeff Tweedy’s solo music catalog. The song was issued as a single for his fourth and most recent studio album Love Is the King. “Guess Again” finds Jeff Tweedy prompting his fans about the need for valuing commitment above everything!
We would expect such from Jeff Tweedy since he has earlier served us with quite some moving (read emotive) songs. However, the song also came at a perfect time when Jeff Tweedy and his lover Sue Miller celebrated twenty-five years of marriage. The message is clear for all to see; unconditional love for one’s partner remains paramount to the success of a relationship/marriage!
#6- Let’s Go Rain
Number six on our top 10 Jeff Tweedy songs list is the amazing hit “Let’s Go Rain.” The song is featured on Jeff Tweedy’s sophomore studio album Warm. Jeff Tweedy once termed the song “Let’s Go Rain” a blissful appeal for the sweet relief of death. The song finds Jeff Tweedy getting a tad bit satirical in his lyrics.
Jeff hypothetically analyses what would happen if God sent a flood again (just like in Noah’s times as seen in the Bible). In his view, the flood would help “cleanse” the world of its sin! Of course, that’s quite a tough wish. However, Jeff Tweedy is only trying to reflect on what society has turned out to become in the current age.
Ranking fifth on our top 10 Jeff Tweedy songs list is the impressive hit “Gwendolyn.” The song is among the most sought-after songs from Jeff Tweedy’s fourth and most recent album Love Is the King. “Gwendolyn” is yet another song that showcases the captivating lyricism of Wilco’s lead vocalist Jeff Tweedy, albeit in a solo record in this case.
The song is an emotionally charged pick that explores themes of love. “Gwendolyn” features a music video that was directed by Jamie Fleischel. The music video features the faces of Norah Jones among other actors/comedians mouthing the lyrics to this track.
#4- Family Ghost
“Family Ghost” is yet another impressive song from Jeff Tweedy’s solo music catalog. The song featured on Jeff Tweedy’s third studio album Warmer. “Family Ghost” finds Jeff Tweedy reflecting on a troubling past that can’t easily to put to rest. This introspective track invites its listeners to reflect on what’s deeply inculcated in their lives and continues to shape their present. “Family Ghost” is the epitome of Jeff Tweedy’s lyricism on his third studio album Warmer.
#3- Love Is the King
Once again, we go back to Jeff Tweedy’s fourth and most recent album, home to the third pick on our top 10 Jeff Tweedy songs, “Love Is the King.” The song is the album title track to Jeff Tweedy’s fourth studio album. The song is an extrapolation of themes seen with our seventh pick “Guess Again,” albeit more direct now!
“Love Is the King” is delivered with some gentle acoustic guitar strums. The gentle acoustic guitar strums give this song quite a warm feel that complements its beautiful love-filled lyrics. “Love Is the King” is yet another example of Jeff Tweedy’s sincerity and vulnerability in his lyrical approach.
#2- I Know What It’s Like
“I Know What It’s Like” is yet another impressive song that has received love from Jeff Tweedy’s fans since it was released. The song is featured on his sophomore studio album Warm. “I Know What It’s Like” finds Jeff Tweedy showcasing his vulnerable side singing that he knows what it feels like not to feel love, to keep losing your place, and not to feel pain. In a nutshell, the song is centered around sharing the uncensored Jeff Tweedy’s experiences in life. The song features a music video directed by Mark Greenberg.
#1- Some Birds
Ranking at number one on our top 10 Jeff Tweedy songs list is the alluring hit “Some Birds.” The song was issued as the first single of Jeff Tweedy’s sophomore studio album Warm. “Some Birds” features backing vocals contributions of Jeff’s son Sammy Tweedy and Ava Brennan. Jeff Tweedy termed the song “Some Birds” a confrontation between oneself and their shadow instantaneously.
“Some Birds” features some of the most amazing lyrics penned by Jeff Tweedy. Jeff Tweedy’s vocal delivery as he reflects on the complexities of personal relationships adds some allure to this pick. “Some Birds” is a true emblem of Jeff Tweedy’s lyrical depth. The song features a music video directed by Seth Henrikson.
Top 10 Jeff Tweedy Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023
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