If there's a better song to listen to than "South Tacoma Way" while lying face-down on the floor (hypothetically--I have not actually tested this, as all of my floors are hardwood) and thinking "[Insert Name of Emotional Mess Here] will pass soon, and hey, it could be worse, but auuuggghhhh," I can't imagine what it might be.
"STW" is brilliant for its twangy kinda-alt-country sound, and for its defiance of all sorts of lyrical conventions. There's a death at its center, but there are no black veils and better places and RIPs on the edges. Instead, there's an achy impatience with "stupid angels," a disdain of funerals, and the sort of slow, murky sadness and rage that are often the first things to bubble to the surface in the wake of an incomprehensible loss.
And of course there's Neko Case's soaring, gut-shaking voice, which makes lines like "I can't comprehend the ways I miss you" even more heartbreaking than they'd normally be. If ever I get the chance to see her perform this song live, I will be unabashed in my willingness to let myself get teary-eyed and snotty-nosed in public; it's a song so beautiful, pride be damned.
(As an aside, Bloodshot Records' description of Furnace Room Lullaby, the album on which "South Tacoma Way" appears, is perhaps the most apt summation I've read.)