The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History…Song #308: Impossible Germany by Wilco (KEXP)

This list of songs is inspired by lists published by radio station KEXP-FM from Seattle in 2010, as well as the latest poll taken in 2021 by Rolling Stone Magazine. For the most part I will faithfully countdown from their lists, starting at Song #500 and going until I reach Song #1. When you see the song title listed as something like: Song #XXX (KEXP)….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. Song XXX (RS) means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: Song #xxx (KTOM), it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In any case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, just so everyone is aware, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Here is the story behind today’s song. Enjoy.

KEXP: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.

Song #308: Impossible Germany by Wilco.

What a gorgeous song this is! If you have never heard it before then, by all means, give it a listen. You won’t be disappointed! It has a “Steely Dan” sound quality to it and one of the best guitar solos in the last twenty years…….nothing but smooth-flowing honey!

“Wilco” has been around for several decades now. Originally, they went by the name “Uncle Tupelo” and, while under that moniker, had several minor hits on Indie/Alternative radio. They were deemed to be “Alt-Country” and were known for incorporating a divergence of sounds in their songs. But, after awhile, tensions within the band caused it to implode. In the aftermath, lead singer/songwriter, Jeff Tweedy gathered a new band together and formed “Wilco”. Initially, “Wilco” carried on in the style of “Uncle Tupelo” and, as such, its fanbase became entrenched and deeply loyal. However, having a small but, fervent set of believers doesn’t always translate into commecial success. Cue 2001 and the release of an album called, “Hotel Yankee Foxtrot”.

“Hotel Yankee Foxtrot” did not, in the minds of studio executives, contain the hoped-for “hit” singles it had in mind for the group so, the band was dropped. The studio was so disgusted that they tossed the master tapes from the record back to the band for free and told them to take a hike. So, “Wilco” took their tapes and took a hike to a new record label called Nonesuch Records, who released the album. “Hotel Yankee Foxtrot” went on to sell almost three-quarter of a million albums. The band has never looked back. The lineup of the band has solidified and consists of singer/songwriter, Jeff Tweedy, Bassist, John Stirratt, Guitarist, Nels Cline (who performs the extraordinary guitar solo you are about to hear), guitarist, Pat Sansone, keyboardist, Mikael Jorgensen and drummer, Glenn Kotche.

The song, “Impossible Germany” comes from an album called, “Sky Blue Sky”. It is a, relatively, straight-forward song, as far as musical structure goes (for a Wilco song, that is). The lyrics concern two parties being brought together via unlikely circumstances, tasked with making their situation work for both sides and, by doing so, discovering something beautiful about themselves and their partner. Tweedy has never confirmed what the song is exactly about but, many speculate that it is about him and his wife and how they make their relationship work while she is at home and he is on the road with the band, touring. Half of the song has lyrics and half is instrumental (gorgeous guitar work). The lyrics include lines such as:

“This is what love is for to be out of place

Gorgeous and alone,

Face to face

With no larger problems

That need to be erased

Nothing more important

Than to know someone’s listening

Now I know you’ll be listening.”

Again, if you like classic Steely Dan then, “Impossible Germany” is for you. And, if you like , “Impossible Germany” then, “Wilco” is probably for you, too. There are some excellent collections of “Wilco” songs on Spotify and on YouTube, too, if you are interested in learning more about this great but, under-rated band. For now, here is “Wilco” with the very beautiful, “Impossible Germany”. Enjoy.

The link to the video for the song, “Impossible Germany” by Wilco, can be found here.

The link to the official website for Wilco, can be found here.

Thanks to KEXP for supporting and promoting the best Indie and Alternative bands. The link to their website can be found here.

Author: Tom MacInnes

Among the many characters I play: husband, father, son, retired elementary school teacher, writer, Cape Bretoner, lover of hot tea and, above all else, a gentleman. I strive to make a positive difference in the lives of others. In Life, I have chosen to be kind.

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