The greatest #4: "Black Eye"
If the best of songs leave marks on us, then "Black Eye" by Uncle Tupelo leaves an especially potent bruise. When Jeff Tweedy admits at the outset, "He had a black eye he was proud of, " I can't help but remember the scar still dividing my right eyebrow. I got it in the third grade after colliding into my best friend, my glasses smashing up against the top of my eyesocket. The aftermath of the accident was many things at once: my first big injury, lasting proof that I wasn't invincible, a gushing gash to scare the girls with, something dangerous my nine-year-old self could flaunt, permanent damage to my face.
We all have those kinds of scars, literal and figurative, but Tweedy bares his (character's) like it hurts the most. Set to an acoustic guitar that's agile and nimble but still depressed, he sings about it in a tone created exclusively for confessions or consecrations. His words threaten to quiver or collapse; he might abandon his resolve and back out on any upcoming line. Only when he reaches the end and shares the song's jarring twist does his pained delivery make sense. Only then does it cut you up and stitch you up with its hard and sharpened double-edged truths.
* MP3: "Black Eye" - Uncle Tupelo from March 16-20, 1992 [Buy it]