"One Sunday Morning (For Jane Smiley's Boyfriend)" as written by and Jeff Tweedy....
This is how I tell it
O' but it's long
One Sunday morning
O' One son is gone

Against the weather dawning
Over the sea
My father said what I had become
No one should be

Outside I look lived in
Like the bones in a shrine
How am I forgiven
O' I'll give it time

This I learned without warning
Holding my brow
In time we thought I would kill him
O' but I didn't know how

I said it's your God I don't believe in
No your Bible can't be true
Knocked down by the long lie
He cried I fear what waits for you

I can hear those bells
Spoken and gone
I feel relief I feel well
Now he knows he was wrong

Ring 'em cold for my father
Frozen underground
Jesus I wouldn't bother
He belongs to me now

Something sad keeps moving
So I wandered around
I fell in love with the burden
Holding me down

Bless my mind I miss
Being told how to live
What I learned without knowing
How much more I owe than I can give

This is how I tell it
O' but it's long
One Sunday morning
One son is gone

Lyrics submitted by rrstrick

"One Sunday Morning (Song For Jane Smiley's Boyfriend)" as written by Jeff Tweedy


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One Sunday Morning (For Jane Smiley's Boyfriend) song meanings
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  • +5
    General CommentThis is probably my favorite song on the new album and it is just heartbreaking.

    It's about a son who lost a father who was overbearing and critical and he hated the added pressure of the harsh father. The son is then a bit happy that his father is gone and he no longer has to deal with his judgements and criticisms, then he feels guilty, then he regrets not appreciating his father's love and guidance, no matter how harsh it is.

    "Bless my mind I miss being told how to live. What I learned without knowing how much more I owe than I can give"

    For a guy who lives a life that might not be approved by his parents...this song just hits like a rock.

    mstigallon September 28, 2011   Link
  • +4
    General CommentThe song is heartbreaklingly beautiful. The subtitle is (Song for Jane Smiley's Boyfriend)

    Tweedy said in and interview that the song was about meeting Jane Smiley's boyfriend at a dinner and having a poignant conversation in which the boyfriend spoke about his overly religious father who condemned him for the way he lives his life and the son's relief when his father died.
    agirlandamonkeyon September 04, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General CommentPerhaps it is the atheist in me, but I have been a wilco fan since A.M., and still think this might be their most beautiful song.
    ModestRaton February 21, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI hear the first and last stanzas/verses as:

    This is how I'll tell it
    Oh, but it's long
    One Sunday Morning
    Oh, when the sun is gone
    ("I'll" sounds like just "I" at the end though)

    I hear the first line of the second stanza as: "Against silhouetted dawning" but I could have that wrong. I'm fairly certain though that "How am I forgiven?" should be "How will I forgive him?".

    Great song, and a very different type of songwriting than we usually see from Jeff.
    musiclover2223on September 15, 2011   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationWhile I understand that the intentional meaning was about Jane Smiley's boyfriend, I believe that the beautiful thing about music is that it can mean whatever you want it to. I believe that the song is about a religiously rebellious boy who religion imposed upon. he is emotionally destroyed because his ideas of reality are undermined so terribly by his own father. It is almost as if he is lost his own life when his father does, because he is left in a turmoil. It is an endless cycle that causes him to die inside, hence the line, "One son is gone."
    jofiseanon July 07, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song peters on significantly after its lyrics come to rest. There is a particular instrument dynamic that always brings a tear to my eye: Right after the narrator ceases his recollection, the song lingers on a painful, monotonous bass segment. Although the narrator's spoken account has concluded by this point, his listlessness is made most palpable here. The mundane thuds of the bass audibly construct the narrator's mental rut. Then it is so emotionally uplifting when the song fades out with a jumpy, melodic bass line.
    NEWaythewindon January 10, 2013   Link
  • 0
    Lyric CorrectionJust got my Whole Love album in the mail, complete with booklet and lyrics! I corrected the words above, according to the booklet.
    rrstrickon September 22, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentFrom Spin: Loosely inspired by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author's books, Tweedy says it's an autobiographical tune with ten verses: "It has a pretty long narrative."

    From an interview with Jane Smiley on Galleycat (MediaBristo.com): Smiley says, “Apparently my partner was chatting to Jeff Tweedy about some religious thoughts. I don’t quite understand the song, but those who’ve heard it seem to really like it, especially the music. I do think that it is really funny that someone as
    square (and old) as myself would end up in the title of a song in an alt-rock group’s album.”

    From Chicago Mag.com: “Now he’s [the dead father] going to know he was wrong and that there is an only loving God,” Tweedy explains.
    rrstrickon September 25, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI love this song; it reminds me of a young me and my father. Luckily, he hasn't passed yet and I still have time to repay what I owe. It's funny how much we think we know when we're younger. I listen to it every time I drive to his house in Virginia's house country. I associate some very special memories with it and many beautiful images pop into my mind when I hear it.
    smokinnateon November 06, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentSo according to another commenter: Tweedy apparently said that the song was about meeting "Jane Smiley's boyfriend" at dinner and having a poignant conversation in which the boyfriend spoke about his condemning religious father, and his relief when his father died.

    What I have to add:
    To me,
    "Bless my mind, I miss
    Being told how to live.
    What I learned without knowing
    How much more I owe than I can give."
    is speaking not only of his father but of the church. The son has always been skeptical of religion and his final ties are broken when his father dies. It's semi-sarcastic, as the church preaches that from birth you already owe more than you can possibly give to God.

    "This is how I tell it
    Oh, but it's long.
    One Sunday morning
    One son is gone."
    What I think here is that "One Sunday morning," a "son" (i.e. a follower of the church) has disappeared, because after the death of his father, Jane's doubtful boyfriend has finally stopped showing up to Sunday morning church.
    wuohon April 11, 2014   Link

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