What does She's a Jar mean?

Wilco: She's a Jar Meaning

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Album cover for She's a Jar album cover

She's a Jar Lyrics

She's a jar
With a heavy lid
My pop quiz kid
A sleepy kisser
A pretty war
With feelings hid
She begs me not to miss her

She says forever
To light a fuse
We could use
A hand full of wheel
And a day off
And a bruised road
However you might...

  1. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Sep 3rd 2020 !⃝

    i love the music and hate the lyrics. just too hard to enjoy the music while trying to tune out the lyrics....don't we have enough stress without having our brain work overtime while trying to relax

  2. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Dec 9th 2011 !⃝

    It's just a hunch I have but I think this song is about Tweedy's past and not his present or future. It was written about his relationship when it was in the early stages and they were really working out the kinks. I apologize for run-ons, redundancy, too many dashes, alliteration and typos.

    FYI- Tweedy played this song the other night at their first show in Minneapolis. He said he thought he was done playing "tender ballads" during that set, but suddenly remembered he had this one to play. He then said, "I'm not sure 'tender' is the word I'd use to describe this one though".. or something along those lines. I think it was interesting that he'd say that because after really looking at and thinking about the lyrics, tender IS the word I would use to describe it. Tender meaning -a soft and sore spot in his past. Tender meaning -a huge wound that will never fully heal. Tender meaning -"thoughtful" as in -at least I care that I can be a prick and I realize it and I don't really want to be one. Tender as in -I wrote a song about how much I hurt my girlfriend/wife and that is one attempt at making some peace with the past. Lastly, Tender meaning -money as in -I've created pain sometimes in order to make money. I think Tweedy IS a tender-hearted person/artist who probably is -or at least has been- difficult to live with some of the time and he describes that effectively in this song.

    SHE'S A JAR by WILCO

    She's a jar
    With a heavy lid
    My pop quiz kid
    A sleepy kisser
    A pretty war
    With feelings hid
    She begs me not to miss her

    A jar is empty, not vacant as in stupid, but empty as in the contents have been stolen. This means he obviously has stolen her heart. A jar head is a member of the US Marine corps too so maybe she is a jar means she has fought for something like Love, justice and freedom in her life and relationships. A jar is normally circular, made of cold glass and very breakable. "A jar" could be a play on words like she is "ajar" as in something that is slightly open and not completely closed. This could mean that although she has suffered so much pain and trauma at the hands of people she loves, she isn't going to allow that experience to shut her off from loving again. Maybe the heavy lid means over the past several years she has been spending a lot of time learning and thinking hence she has more knowledge. She is trying to put more time and thought into music and writing and the "heavy lid" means her head has more weight. "Pop quiz kid" =she has many questions for the people she loves and would enjoy asking them the questions and getting the honest answers she deserves. "Sleepy kisser"= she kisses her pillow in her sleep. "A pretty war"= she looks okay sometimes but most of the time she doesn't look so great these days because she has been through hell. "With feelings hid"= means that she can't tell her true feelings to many people because they will only call her crazy (again). She hides her feelings as best she can in the transparent jar in which she lives. "She begs me not to miss her"= means she wants the person/people she loves to be happy and not worry about her or wonder how she's doing or care about her in any way at all. Or then again maybe she just says that because she WANTS them to actually miss her. It could ALSO be an empty threat in order to cause a reaction in the man she loves such as, "Don't miss me when I'm out the door d^ckface." He knows that she isn't going anywhere but it provokes him anyway. This has been their history... Up-down, happy-sad, moments of peace and then violence for months. It has been a cycle. He has had to dissect the past in order to process his emotions and then write a song about it. Putting pen to paper, turning beautiful words into lyrics and forming something real, gorgeous and listenable is his labor of love. Writing a song about his relationship and the pain it has brought him and then singing are his first step and offering toward healing.

    She says forever
    To light a fuse
    We could use
    A hand full of wheel
    And a day off
    And a bruised road
    However you might feel
    Tonight is real

    Right after she delivers a threat to the man she loves she says she wants to be with him "forever". We, the listeners, feel her dilemma. It must be a difficult decision for her to say forever because he has put her through "a humongous deal" of pain. But it makes her so blue and heavy-hearted to think of what her life would be like without him. Their lives are already so entwined it is incredibly difficult and awful for her to imagine any other future. It lights "a fuse" for him because he knows that what he has done to her is incredibly abusive. Tweedy likes to harm her. He wants her to know that he isn't easy to live with or "fun" to be around ALL of the time. It seems she doesn't care because she loves him no matter how much he hurts her. She remembers they can be so good together and how they have experienced incredibly intense feelings for each other in their real lives previously and not always in a hurtful way. Now it seems Tweedy is addicted to the grueling side of their relationship and enjoys bringing her despair whenever he can. They get into these cycles and have a hard time breaking them and it causes so many scars yet neither wants to live without the other person. He is saying "We could use three things". 1. "A day off" means that every single day he realizes how much pain he inflicts upon her and he might even feel distressed sometimes that he hurts her so much hence a day off would offer them some relief from the turmoil and hopelessness they feel. 2. "A hand full of wheel" means that he wants to steer them away from their cycle of harm and guide them out of the dark place they are in. 3. "A bruised road" is them looking at their past which is a very painful, colourful and tender history. He is saying there is no chance in forgetting the past but now it is the past meaning we can make things better. He wants her to know there is a brighter road ahead. "However you might feel, tonight is real" is Tweedy saying to her that no matter how she feels about their relationship, at that moment it becomes "real". This is him saying, I tried to screw with your "reality" before by saying that we didn't have a relationship but now I will tell you that yes, we do have one. He is telling her she is not "batshit-crazy" as he and several others wanted her to think for years. He knows that THAT must have felt like psychological and emotional abuse to her and he is proud of her for being an incredibly hearty-soul. By saying "tonight is real" he is admitting that he goofed up a bit. We the listeners recognize the fact that he is a brave man for admitting his previous faults and we are pleased that he is not saying
    "Tonight Never Happened". He is trying to break the f*cked up cycle their relationship has been traveling. His second step is slamming a stick in the spokes of a psycho-system. He is trying to bring some peace to the two of them by admitting to her in person that they do have a relationship.

    When I forget how to talk, I sing
    Wont you please
    Bring that flash to shine
    And turn my eyes red
    Unless they close
    When you click
    And my face gets sick
    Stuck
    Like a question unposed

    When he forgets how to communicate with her he goes out and writes music and sings his feelings. It is a less direct, less scary process for him than confronting his feelings and emotions with her face-to-face. "Won't you please" is him challenging her. He is saying, when I don't talk to you and I become distant to you "bring that flash to shine". Flash = quick and shine = stun, as in shock - so I think he is ordering her to punch him. He is asking her to make him feel the pain. He means when I hurt you please hurt me back. Do something to cause me to reveal my feelings to you and make me cry cuz I feel so rotten about myself when I hurt you. He is saying I want you to do something to turn my eyes bloody red from crying like you have felt every day. Please do something to just TRY and hurt me back because then maybe I'll feel better. "Unless they close" is Tweedy saying I can't guarantee that it will work cuz I might just pretend I am asleep by closing my eyes when you attempt to hurt me. I think here he is just showing us that he can be a jerk. He is exposing his vulnerability in that he does feel shitty about himself -often in general, and especially- when her hurts her. His face gets "sick" and "stuck like a question unposed" is him not having the answers as to why he hurts her but at least he is admitting that a.) he knows his actions cause her severe agony and b.) he does feel ill about it at times. Tweedy is a good soul who means well. He is explaining that to us, somewhat gently and melodically. Challenging her to hit him is an unhealthy but valid third step toward healing.

    Just climb aboard
    The tracks of a trains arm
    In my fragile family tree
    And watch me floating inches above
    The people under me

    Here he shifts to addressing listeners, neighbours and maybe even a therapist, rather than his girlfriend/wife. He is saying "climb aboard" as in take a good look at the train wreck of his life. (Remember it is an old song.) He is being hospitable, while mixing his metaphors, by inviting the folks who enjoy his music to see how the "tracks" --meaning the history of his painful cycle of addiction to drugs and abusing his girlfriend/wife --are negatively offecting him. His arm is his music which craves the needle in order to feed the disease which churns the cycle of lyrics. It keeps him primed and pumped. He is realizing that he has been addicted to abusing his girlfriend/wife in the name of music/anguish/lyrics and that in their day-to-day lives together they will have enough suffering/material for him to write good shit without any need for them to almost murder each other. His need for tender is causing her bruises. His "fragile family tree" is him admitting that he knows he has caused distress to many people in his big family. He is being honest about his understanding that life, music and family hang in a delicate "balance" and he has the ability to help stabilize the structure or cause disruption. He is being so open about his faults with us. I think he is asking the listener to be supportive of him. He is not saying "hate me because I hurt people", rather, "Love me because I am human". Once again I must dispute his claim that this is not a "tender" ballad. He is a solid man for understanding his role in his past and possessing the ability to express it to us in an incredibly poignant fashion while earning a living. The "watch me floating inches above the people under me" is him feeling like he is dying. He is detached and floating above the people under him. This shows us that he keeps himself apart from them like an angel and he watches over them. He is saying that he wants to be benevolent and caring and supportive and he wants to be all of the "right" things a dad/husband and the leader of a band is -- but it is just so hard for him sometimes cuz he is an artist and he is human. It is important to recognize that he sees himself as this angel figure. Seeing himself as the angel is him taking a leap of faith and admitting that he wants to bring forth the better man he knows is present in his soul. This is the fourth step he takes toward healing.

    Please beware the quiet front yard
    I warned you
    Before there were water skies
    I warned you not to drive
    Dry your eyes, you poor devil

    He is still talking to the neighbours here. Don't let the quiet front yard fool you.. Things inside the house are tragic and there is suffering and he is telling us that he warned us about this. He is saying, I told you not to get involved even long before things got really bad, prior to us having such incredible sadness in our lives. Maybe this is Tweedy saying that a while back, he just wanted to handle his problems by himself. I warned you not to "drive" meaning pry into my family's private business so now you'll have to dry your eyes because you are depressed about what is going on here and the state of the state. For instance, if he hit his girlfriend/wife in the face then people would see her swollen puffiness and feel compassion. They would want to help her. You are a "poor devil" means you should have minded your own business and stayed out of mine and then you wouldn't be feeling so down about it all. Neighbours care when they know their friends are going through pain and trauma. I think this chunk of lyrics is just explaining that he feels kind of bad that so many people are involved in his problems but then again he feels incredibly grateful that so many people love him and care about him. The neighbours in the town -even though they are all very different and get mad at each other sometimes -are really connected in many ways and should try to support each other through hardship. When someone is experiencing grief and misery, we should bring over a meatloaf or a hotdish or write a song. I think Tweedy is appreciative of the love he feels from people and his way of showing his gratitude is through song. His fifth step is expressing his gratitude for all of the "angels" in his life. He is saying "Thanks, man."

    Are there really ones like these?
    The ones I dream
    Float like leaves
    And freeze to spread skeleton wings
    I passed through before I knew you

    Maybe here he is going back to his girlfriend/wife and asking her if she believes that there are truly good people in the world. Obviously, if he asks that question he isn't thinking he belongs in that category at the moment. It is gut-wrenching to hear that he doesn't think he is a "good person" simply because he has abused his girlfriend/wife. Lyrically, I feel just as much pain for Tweedy and his clear sense of guilt as I do for his beat-up girlfriend/wife. He is saying, our neighbours are good people and asking her if she thinks they are "real" and/or if they are "angels". The angels float in his dreams, suspended and elusive. This is him saying that he sees the neighbour/angels and their beauty and he believes they exist but then in his dream they freeze and die. Remember he sometimes sees himself as an angel, too. He knows in his heart that he is capable of being a decent, loving man again.. He doesn't want to die but he is learning how... This is his mantra. Once upon a time Tweedy used to get those debilitating migraines and he probably was not psyched about the prospect of death. At the same time he knows we have to kill the past in order to emerge into the present... "I passed through before I knew you" is his way of saying that he was a kinder person before he knew her. He "passed through" that cycle once before so maybe he can again. At the risk of redundancy, Tweedy is experiencing an epiphany. He is saying at one time he was a pretty solid guy and that guy seems dead so now he realizes he can kill this decomposing beastly guy inside of himself and be fresh again. This song (as well as several other songs of his) is all about Tweedy trying to kill the violent side to himself in order to bring forth the "new" and "improved" man within. We now know this has happened. He has dealt with a lot of his demons. He will never be perfect nor would anyone expect him to be. He is a human angel doing his best. He is writing about his struggles and reminding us no matter how badly we screw up, we can make it better. We can ease the sorrow with truth and we can extract the sickness with song. His sixth and gigantic and never-ending step toward healing occurs each time Tweedy sings this song. He knows he is singing about a dead man and a dead woman.

    I believe it's just because
    Daddy's payday is not enough
    Oh, I believe it's all because
    Daddy's payday is not enough

    Tweeds has made so much progress that here he feels the need to take a mini-step backwards. He takes this opportunity to get in some final jabs. He is showing us that he still gets pissed off. This stanza is Tweedy feeling a bit sorry for himself and also telling her to lay off. It sounds as if she wants him to "pay" for what he has done to her. "Daddy's Payday" means that she won't forget what he has done to her, at least not right now (when he wrote this song), and he is sick of having to pay for hurting her. He feels that no matter how much he pays that it will never be enough. Regardless of his flippant, defensive language (or maybe because of) we know that the burden of his guilt is massive. At this point he feels he will never make up for the years of pain he put her through. He is saying it is so hard to be the admirable guy I want to be when you will never let me off the hook for what I did to you. He is saying if you stop rubbing my face in it all of the time, then I might stand the chance to actually feel optimistic about myself again and then have the confidence to act on those feelings and become the man I'd like to be. I would like to show you that I am capable of being loving and not just an abusive asshole. Here he is asking for her forgiveness loud and unclear. Tweedy obviously wants to redeem himself in her eyes and is trying to explain that to us. He wants to have paid his incredible debt for abusing and traumatizing someone he cares about deeply. Not sure if we can call this a step toward harmony, but it is an attempt at a step.

    Just climb aboard
    The tracks of a trains arm
    In my fragile family tree
    And watch me floating inches above
    The people under me

    The same from the top.
    He is saying I want to be an astonishing and exceptional force to the people I care for.

    She's a jar
    With a heavy lid
    My pop quiz kid
    A sleepy kisser
    A pretty war
    With feelings hid
    You know she begs me not to hit her

    The same from the top.
    Tho' he changes the last line..
    "You know she begs me not to hit her" means that she has been through a great deal of pain and abuse and she can take no more. She is saying please, please, please don't hurt me anymore. Please be loving to me. Tweedy is showing us once again how seriously he has injured her and how terrible he feels. His process of writing this song and singing it (very much in public) is his way of showing us he is human, fallible and worthy of forgiveness. It is a major stride toward making amends with someone he loves.

    When the song was over some man yelled "You are great Jeff!" or some sort of praise like that. Tweedy paused and looked at him and said, "Really? You think so? Dude, I think your timing is frightening." The guy might have been an oblivious drunken buffoon, but I'd say his timing wasn't the least bit frightening. The other night, watching Tweedy sing this song was a gift. He showed us his raw, exposed, flawed self and that he still can't be "proud" of the abusive (now dead) man he used to be.... And that, my friends, is exactly why he should feel proud.

  3. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Oct 24th 2011 !⃝

    Its about shooting dope.

  4. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Jan 23rd 2011 !⃝

    I think this song's about how he used to beat his girlfriend.


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