All my lies are only wishes

2011 January 24
by Don Hammack

Shocking news: I’m a Wilco fan. I’m not the biggest deconstructionist of lyrics in the world, but this bit from “Ashes of American Flags” hit me while I was driving back from dinner tonight:

I’m down on my hands and knees
Every time the doorbell rings
I shake like a toothache
When I hear myself sing

All my lies are only wishes
I know I would die if I could come back new

I have always loved the imagery of shaking like a toothache. It’s so vivid, turning the throbbing feeling of that pain into the feeling of shaking. And then, a truly perfect revelation about lying. Who lies about something they don’t really want to come true or want to be true? What would be the point of a lie? (I mean, I can think of lots of mean things you can lie about. Even then, a person spreading mean-spirited lies are wishing to hurt somebody. All their lies are only wishes, too.)

It doesn’t make lying right. It does help draw the act into focus. That’s all I got. Anybody else got any thoughts?

Oh, and Wilco’s coming to Jazz Fest.

2 Responses leave one →
  1. 2011 January 25
    Holly J. S. Wright permalink

    Ouch. I think the purpose of lying or twisting the truth is to make oneself feel better about one’s existence…or choices. The lie is usually supposed to benefit the one telling the story.

    I also associate that pain of toothache/earache/any head pain (excruciating) with emotional pain. It’s a ripping, throbbing, all-consuming sensation…especially if you really just want to go to sleep (which is what the lyrics make me think of).

    Write more, Don. (who says that to someone who writes for a living??)

  2. 2011 January 25
    Don Hammack permalink

    Write more? Yeah, that was my New Year’s resolution, to write every day. You can look at the archives and see how well I’m doing on that count. I’m not going to lie to you: decent, not great or even good.

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