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Jesus Etc. – Wilco

Jesus Etc. is the fifth track on the album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot which was released in 2002. The song was originally called “Jesus Don’t Cry”, however, it was later changed to “Jesus Etc.” because Jay Bennett was too lazy to write the whole title on the master CD and wrote etc. instead of “don’t cry” which then stuck. This song is about a couple. While one of them is conflicted by realizing and questioning how minuscule their life actually is, the other one, the singer, is trying to reassure and comfort them. This can be seen in the first verse where the lyrics go: “Jesus, don’t cry, You can rely on me, honey You can combine anything you want, I’ll be around” The comforter also touches on the finiteness of human relationships and lives that the conflicted person is pondering about. The comforter does not have any answers, however, they assure that they can be there for the conflicted person: “You were right about the stars, Each one is a setting sun.” The conflicted but reassuring mindset can be heard from the music, especially in the back-and-forth string parts which resemble somewhat of a monologue where the conflicted person is asking questions and the singer is to cheer them up. Before the final chorus, Tweedy sings “Our love is all we have.” where the comforter is trying to show that in the end love is what matters and love is what will make us persevere. You can either give a chance to love or you can be hopeless in your self-induced melancholy. Musically, “Jesus, Etc.” is beautiful from the get-go. The track starts simultaneously with Stirratt’s groovy bassline and the simple yet effective drums. Then, the whining violin kicks in to add to the atmosphere of the song, and all of this with Jeff Tweedy’s mellow vocals just creates a comforting atmosphere with a hint of bittersweetness. The whole song maintains roughly the same atmosphere, but the steel guitar that kicks in around the 2-minute mark give add a sloppy melancholic feeling to the song. The song ends with Tweedy singing “Last cigarettes are all you can get” which further underlines the theme that you can either try to strive or stay hopeless with only a cigarette to look forward to at the end of the day.

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