White Wooden Cross

Album: Ode to Joy (2019)

Songfacts®:

  • "White Wooden Cross" finds Jeff Tweedy contemplating loss via meditations on the homemade reminders that dot so many American highways. The song has roots that go back a long way. Back in the early 2000s, when Wilco started mastering older albums at a studio in Portland Maine, Tweedy went for a walk along Casco Bay and saw a roadside memorial to four kids whose car had careered off the highway onto the bicycle path below. Whenever the band mastered a new album, he would return to the same spot.

    "The next time I went, there was a new park bench there and you could see remnants of the plastic flowers people had left," he told Uncut magazine. "Then those flowers were gone, and then last time I went, the bench was gone. All of these memorials will be gone at some point. Is that how much time you have to mourn? Do people want to be reminded where they loved ones died? Do they want to remind other people that life is fleeting? This is the s--t I ended up thinking about."

    "Really, the song has nothing to do with white wooden crosses," percussionist Glenn Kotche added. "It's about hanging onto this love that you have. It's about the fear of losing what's most precious to you."
  • Jeff Tweedy's wife Susie had a cancer scare around the recording of his 2014 Sukierae album. He acknowledged to Uncut that the song might also address Susie's illness. But, he observes, "I don't normally say to Susie, Hey I saw where somebody l died today and it made me think about you dying. But people do think about how they're going to cope with tragedy and loss and I tried to write a song about it."

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