1001 Songs Challenge,  2000s,  Music

1001 Songs Challenge #918: Ashes of American Flags (2002)

On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenge of reading 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery (ed.) and following the book’s advice to the letter. I’ve previously read 1001 Films… and started 1001 Albums… but felt 1001 Songs… would be a sensible place to start for what I have in mind here.

My challenge is to read about one song per day and listen to it (YouTube and Spotify, I need you tonight!) before sharing my own thoughts. Some songs I will love, others I’ll hate, and I’m sure there will be those that leave me perplexed but listen to them I shall.

I’ll also try, and most likely fail, to pinpoint the best song from the 1001 on offer but I’m nothing if not foolhardy. Instead of one song, I’m predicting I’ll have about 100 favourites by the end and may have to resort to a Top 10 so far to maintain any semblance of sanity.

So long as I post every day (including Christmas) then this challenge should come to an end on Wednesday 8 November 2021. Staying with the Barney Stinson theme I am hoping that the whole experience will prove to be… legendary!


Wilco – Ashes of American Flags (2002)

Wilco Live: Ashes of American Flags – Wikipedia

Wilco Live: Ashes of American Flags Released April 18, 2009 Recorded February-March 2008 Genre Alternative rock Label Nonesuch Shake It Off (2007) Wilco Live: Ashes of American Flags (2009) Wilco Live: Ashes of American Flags is a live performance DVD by the American alternative rock band Wilco.


Lyrics (via Genius)


We’re leaving the UK behind today, dear reader, and making our way back to the US and to Chicago in Illinois. Formed in 1994 and being the remnants of the band, Uncle Tupelo, Wilco focused on a range of rock as their chosen genre. When we join them in 2002 it is with the release of their fourth album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, and from there 1001 Songs have gone with the track, Ashes of American Flags

In Ashes of American Flags, the narrator offers a series of images which come together to recreate a very bleak reality. The song appears to address materialism and consumerism, lives dominated by our need for money to buy the things that give our lives meaning. Later in the track, the narrator makes frequent reference to the idea of starting anew, reinventing themselves as someone better and with such a possibility they would happily welcome death from this life for the chance to be reborn. The song has the feeling of mankind having lost our way as a species. 

I was not familiar with Wilco nor have I ever heard Ashes of American Flags but I found the track haunting. The vocals here are quiet and blend smoothly with the music. The lyrics are thought-provoking and carry ambiguity but are absorbing all the same. Wilco continue to perform with their eleventh and most recent album having been released in 2019.


Favourite songs so far:

The Animals – House of the Rising Sun (1964)

Simon & Garfunkel – The Sounds of Silence (1965)

The Beatles – A Day in the Life (1967)

The Doors – The End (1967)

Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here (1975)

Meat Loaf – Bat Out of Hell (1977)

Tracy Chapman – Fast Car (1988)

U2 – One (1991)

Jeff Buckley – Hallelujah (1994)

Radiohead – Paranoid Android (1997)

My name is Dave and I live in Yorkshire in the north of England and have been here all my life. I hope you enjoy your visit to All is Ephemeral.

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