The Top 20 Jeff Tweedy Songs: #5 “Hummingbird”

Videos by American Songwriter

ghost is born

Band: Wilco
Album: A Ghost Is Born (2004)
Key lyric: “Remember to remember me/ Standing still in your past/ Floating fast like a hummingbird”

On A Ghost Is Born, Wilco emerged from their cocoon with a host of new super powers; among them, the ability to write songs like “Hummingbird.” Gorgeously arranged, with different musical detours along the way, it quickly became a fan favorite.

Stuffed with evocative imagery, the lyrics present a puzzle for the listener to piece together. It tells the story of a man whose “goal in life was to be an echo,” who’s haunted by dreams of a lost lover he still can’t shake. A “cheap sunset on a television set” could upset her, but he never could.

The song clearly means a lot to Tweedy — in concert, he can’t keep still when he sings it, often breaking out the dance moves, like a hummingbird himself.


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  1. Higher on the list than I expected, and that’s a good thing.

    I feel like A Ghost Is Born is a rather uneven album, but when it’s good it’s brilliant. And this is absolutely the highlight gem of the record for me. Soft spot for Handshake Drugs too, though it goes on too long.

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Neko Case @ The Ryman Auditorium, Nashville, Tenn. 7/26/2009