On “Reservations,” the album’s final track, Tweedy speaks his mind more clearly than he’s managed to at any point, and it’s striking in its honesty, especially considering it’s about being dishonest.
How can I convince you it’s me I don’t like,
And not be so indifferent to the look in our eyes,
When I’ve always been distant,
And I’ve always told lies for love?
I’m bound by these choices, so hard to make.
I’m bound by the feeling, so easy to fake.
None of this is real enough to take me from you.
Oh I’ve got reservations
About so many things,
But not about you.
It’s the crux of the album: Tweedy acknowledging that he’s done wrong, but stopping short of apologizing for it. Instead, he cites his certainty about his feelings as a way to rationalize his actions. Then he asks the question, “How can I get closer and be further away from the truth that proves it’s beautiful to lie?,” and it’s probably the album’s single best line. He’s done what he was hoping to do back in “I’m the Man That Loves You,” and there’s a great sense of relief. But you also know he’s crossed a line: by wondering aloud if it’s better to continue lying for the sake of love, he’s put all his cards on the table, and it’s not difficult to imagine it ending badly.
This is why, at the end of the day (or at the end of the decade), you can’t help but talk about the stories within Yankee Hotel Foxtrot as well as the stories surrounding it. Because they’re the same, really: It’s a record about knowing something has to change, knowing that if things just continue the way they are, they’ll eventually just stop existing. Even saying nothing of what happened after, there’s something beautiful about recognizing when you’ve hit rock bottom.