Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: alt-country, B-Side, Bryn, Cover, Glenn Kotche, Jay Bennett, Jeff Tweedy, John Stirratt, Mikael Jorgensen, Music, Nels Cline, Pat Sansone, Rock, Songs, The Album, Wilco, Wilco (The Album)
So, I ran out of Wilco songs a few months ago. However, I’ve decided I’m going to start taking on the new songs found on Wilco (The Album) along with a bunch of b-sides, outtakes, covers, and whatever else there is. If you have anything you want me to cover that I haven’t taken on already, please leave a comment or shoot me an e-mail.
I’m excited to be starting this up again, and I hope you guys enjoy the new posts.
Filed under: Yankee Hotel Foxtrot | Tags: America, Blog, Connect, David Letterman, Jeff Tweedy, Jesus Etc., Kicking Television, Morrissey, Music, Nels Cline, Rock, Ryan Adams, The Smiths, Violin, Wilco, Wordpress, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, YouTube
I can remember the first time I listened to Yankee Hotel Foxtrot back when I was in high school. I came home, listened to it straight through, and immediately went online to look for live clips of the songs. The first one I searched for was “Jesus, Etc.” I found a really great version from an appearance the band made on Letterman, and then there were the billion other recordings people had done. Tweedy solo performances… Crappy quality audience shots… And then there was the violin-less version that the most recent incarnation of Wilco has been playing. The slide guitar in the intro doesn’t have the same effect on me as the violin, but I understand that they can’t reproduce everything just like they recorded it.
I’m not really sure why this seems to be the quintessential Wilco song to so many people. I can’t deny that it’s great, but I find it a bit odd that so many people connect with it. Why not “Ashes of American Flags” or “War on War?” I think the answer all lies in how the song is presented. All of those feelings people were experiencing in early 21st century America were in this recording. Sadness… Fear… Uncertainty… This song did what The Smiths did back in the 1980s: it reached out to this group of people who felt disconnected and resonated more than anything else had.
This symbol of strength that so many people turn to (Jesus) has to be comforted by the narrator because things are so bad. He’s talking to Jesus like they’re just a couple of guys hanging out. A couple of very thoughtful/emotional guys, but you get what I mean… The narrator manages to have just a little bit of optimism, however. Notice how the lyrics change from “each one is a setting sun” to “each one is a burning sun” in the last verse.
Well, that does it for the blog. I’ve had a really great time, and if there are any b-side/outtake requests, I’d be glad to take them on. I’ll probably post on here now and again, but you can find me over at www.starlitediner.wordpress.com posting about Ryan Adams from now on.
Thanks for reading,
Filed under: Sky Blue Sky | Tags: Bono, Country, Dad Rock, Folk, Guitar, Leave Me Like You Found Me, Lyrics, Music, Relationship, Rock, Sky Blue Sky, Wilco
I ended my post about “Feed of Man” saying that I didn’t intend to write about it last. Well, I absolutely put this one off as long as I possibly could. Really, if I can tie today’s post in with my last two, this is a song I truly find to be boring. It just rolls along with average lyrics (I feel like the final verse could have been written by Bono) and some truly adult-contemporary sounding music. If the guys in Wilco were afraid of sounding like dad-rock, this is the closest they’ve ever come to the (possibly nonexistent?) genre.
While I may complain about the song itself, I have to admit that I really like the concept and title, and I feel like it’s a feeling a lot of people experience at the end of a relationship. (Especially a serious one) All you want is for things to go back to normal and resume your life like absolutely nothing happened. Of course, that usually isn’t how it works…
Filed under: A Ghost Is Born | Tags: 2005, A Ghost Is Born, Abstract, Art, Feedback, Guitar, Jeff Tweedy, Lyrics, Music, Nels Cline, Piano, Rock, Spiders, Wilco, Wishful Thinking
The intro to this song kept me away from it for a really long time. I listened to the album straight through, but found myself avoiding this one because I didn’t really remember much about the actual song. I just remembered that first minute was like a short, not-as-crazy-sounding version of the ending of “Less Than You Think.” This song, however, has a very nice, tasteful use of feedback. Really, I feel like this song wouldn’t be nearly as great if Wilco recorded it with their current lineup. Those little waves of feedback would be replaced by 100 mph Nels Cline fills, which don’t have the same impact in a song like “Wishful Thinking.”
But more important than the guitar parts in the song are the lyrics. There’s a certain abstract quality in this song that I really get a kick out of. In my post about “Spiders (Kidsmoke)”, I said I wasn’t able to figure out what the hell he was talking about, but I was OK with that. That’s exactly how I feel when I hear lines about “hell in a nutshell” and “chambers of chains with red plastic mouths.” I’m sure there’s some really great meaning in those lines, but I’ll be damned if I can figure it out.
Filed under: More Like The Moon EP | Tags: A Ghost Is Born, Drums, EP, Jeff Tweedy, More Like The Moon, Music, Rock, Wilco
If I can get right to the point here, I’d just like to let it be known that I really like the simple drums in this song. It almost sounds like they just used a loop on someone’s laptop and played over it. There’s a lot going on, and somehow they manage to just thump along like it’s no big deal. Meanwhile, there are those cool sounding synths in the background and a brilliantly sloppy nylon string guitar solo that always brings a smile to my face when I listen to it. Maybe it isn’t supposed to, but it does anyway.
I really like the lyrics, too. Especially the line “I see us all as customers/Holding no pictu ” I feel like this song, had it not been released, definitely would have found its way onto A Ghost Is Born. Something about it reminds me of “Less Than You Think”, but I can’t quite say what it is.
Filed under: A Ghost Is Born | Tags: A Ghost Is Born, Best, Bryn, Cherry Ghost, Favorite, God, Jeff Tweedy, Music, Piano, Religion, Scary, Solo, Song, Theologians, Wilco
There are few songs in the Wilco catalog that can compete with “Theologians.” When I first listened to A Ghost Is Born, it was seriously the only song I liked. After a few more spins, the rest of it grew on me. But I’d almost say that “Theologians” is the best song they’ve ever done. It’s definitely my favorite of their piano-based songs, and it’s even great when Jeff Tweedy does it on his own.
I think the reason I love it so much is the confidence and defiance found in the lyrics. The song manages to have a pleasant bounce and smile up until that bridge, when things go scary. “I’m going away/Where you will look for me/Where I’m going/You cannot come/No one is ever gonna take my life from me/I’ll lay it down: A ghost is born” is the quintessential Wilco lyric for me.
Anyway, you get the point. I love the song. That’s all I can say…
Filed under: Sky Blue Sky | Tags: Art, Imitation of Life, Jeff Tweedy, Michael Stipe, Music, Positive, R.E.M., Sky Blue Sky, Supernatural Superserious, What Light, Wilco
It seems like a lot of musicians, at one time or another, end up writing a song that’s trying to lift people up and motivate them. Michael Stipe has been doing that lately, with songs like “Imitation of Life”, “All The Way To Reno”, and “Supernatural Superserious.” So, really, it’s no surprise to see Jeff Tweedy doing something similar on “What Light.”
It’s a really loose song with a wishy-washy acoustic guitar rhythm and nice layers of slide guitar and piano, creating a pleasant (dare I say…) Eagles-like atmosphere. I think the majority of critics who made that comparison when Sky Blue Sky came out were wrong, and they probably just listened to this song. It’s a very warm folk sound, with a glowing organ and a sing-along chorus that help to conjure up 1960s/70s American folk-rock.
The song is uplifting and encouraging, telling people they should sing what they feel and express themselves freely. “If you’re trying to paint a picture/But you’re not sure which colors belong/Just paint what you see/Don’t let anyone say it’s wrong”: is a really nice line that says whatever you feel is OK, and you should express it however you see fit. Just because you handle certain feelings differently than other people doesn’t make you any better or worse than they are, it’s just how people are.
Then there’s that chorus… It’s almost unbearably catchy and familiar from the first time you hear it. A big part of that is how simple it is. But don’t confuse simple songwriting with poor songwriting. It’s like minimalistic art: there are no frills. What needs to be said is said clearly. Nothing more, nothing less.
The second verse continues with the inspiring lyrics. “If you think you might need somebody/To pick you up when you drag/Don’t lose sight of yourself/Don’t let anyone change your bag”: this is about how, when you can’t do something on your own, it’s OK to ask for help. But you shouldn’t rely on others, because you (as an individual) should be a priority. When you start letting other people live your life for you, it’s your fault. That’s why you need to keep being yourself. But what about when people start taking things that had been exclusively yours? This is my favorite part of the song:
“And if the whole world is singing your songs/And all of your paintings have been hung/Just remember: what was yours is everyone’s from now on/That’s not wrong or right/But you can struggle with it all you’d like/You’ll only get uptight”
You can see this as people taking what was once yours, or it can be viewed as sharing. There isn’t anything wrong with people embracing you and what you’ve done, but some people may feel uncomfortable with it. We are reassured than any feelings we may have towards this are “not wrong or right”, but if we worry too much, that’s no good.
“What Light” is an unusually positive song for Wilco, which is a refreshing change. While a lot fans are attracted to Wilco because of their ability to write about things that are unpleasant, their versatility is something that has never ceased to amaze their audience.