George Saunders Writes About Wilco’s “One Sunday Morning”

"It puts me in mind of a group of lifelong pals on a front porch, trying to musically solve some existential problem they can’t quite articulate."

Of course George Saunders can make a little assignment like writing about one song for The New York Times about being a better person. He’s truly the only one who can do that effectively and, for his contribution to the Times‘s 25 Songs That Tell Us Where Music Is Going, Saunders decided to use his unmatched skills to eloquently write about Wilco‘s “One Sunday Morning.”

The author (who gave us one of the best Arts + Culture moments of 2015) waxed poetic about the closing track off of 2011’s The Whole Love—admiring frontman Jeff Tweedy’s leadership and lyricism (“Jeff Tweedy is one of the great conversational poets of our time”) as well as the song’s base principles (“Like much of Wilco’s work, it’s fundamentally a damned good popular song”). What’s most intriguing about Saunders’s piece, though, is his ability to quantify his feelings when listening to this “12-minute opus”:

The effect of all of this on the listener — this listener anyway — is transformative. Listening to “One Sunday Morning” (every time) fixes me — like some sort of aural medicine. I feel a positive alteration in my body and mind: a renewed sense of humility at the sadness of the world, and a corresponding resolve to keep trying to be better; freshly reminded of the stakes of being alive, and of the fact that there are, at my disposal, more positive resources than I am currently employing. In this, “One Sunday Morning” serves, for me, as a reliable 12-minute prayer.

Read all of Saunders’s take on Wilco’s “One Sunday Morning” here.


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