Three chords. I-IV-V. Building blocks of popular Western music. Infinite variations. You can spend a lifetime with only these three chords, and still create a diverse body of work. “Wishlist” plays exclusively with these basics, resulting in one of the band’s most accessible songs. It is both adored and reviled, ignored and misunderstood for its perceived simplicity. But it is built on fundamental writerly instincts both lyrically and musically, deriving its meaning directly from its form, construction, craft.
“I wish I was” is an anaphoric formula, just fill in the blank. It must have been great fun as a writer to edit down the original, longer list of lines, to pick out the absolute best. Everyone seems to have their favorite, assuming they like the song. I’m partial to the lines that elide over each other, and Ed’s use of the infinitive “to trust”. All around “Wishlist” is playful and sweet, full of imagery yet still triggering one’s imagination. The use of an e-bow on the strings further creates a dreamy atmosphere, a substitute for the lyrical capacity of a violin or pedal steel. The only complaint I can devise for the song is its fade out, another song where I prefer the Monkeywrench version, its closing resolute, “I guess it never stops”.