“Remember The Mountain Bed”
Album: Mermaid Avenue, Vol. II (2000)
Co-writers: Woody Guthrie, Jay Bennett
Key lyric: “The smell of your hair I know is still there, if most of our leaves are blown/ Our words still ring in the brush and the trees where singing seeds are sown/ Your shape and form is dim but plain, there on our mountain bed/ I see my life was brightest where you laughed and laid your head.”
Okay, so technically this shouldn’t even be on the list. But it has to be. It’s that good.
Jeff Tweedy and Wilco only wrote the music — the lyrics are by some guy named Woody Guthrie. But if it wasn’t for Tweedy and co. bringing it to life, we’d never have had access to such an amazing song. This is arguably as close as Woody Guthrie got to the flowing, epic poetry mastered by his young disciple, Bob Dylan. Guthrie’s poignant words (presumably written at the end of his life) sung in Tweedy’s plaintive, wizened voice are immeasurably powerful. The themes are time, love, and nature, which fit right in with the rest of the Wilco catalog.
Interestingly, the song, at six and a half minutes long, was left off the original Mermaid Avenue album. It might have languished in obscurity, if not for it’s inclusion on the second Mermaid Avenue volume, two years later.
When Wilco are remembered many decades from now, “Remember the Mountain Bed” will be one of the reasons why.