I did actually. Wilco was on WXRT’s Sound Opinions last night and I called in and got through. I was taking notes on the show for an article in Glorious Noise, so I didn’t have time to think of a decent question to ask, so I asked a dumb one. At least that’s my excuse. I’m not very familiar with the whole radio talk-show call-in technique. I should have had something prepared. But I didn’t. Oh well. I still talked to Jeff Tweedy last night.
It was a cool show. They played some songs live in the studio and talked a lot. The hosts, Greg Kot from the Chicago Tribune and Jim DeRogatis from the Chicago Sun-Times, are obviously big fans of the band and big music geeks, so the show had a comfortable, laid back atmosphere. They talked about last Tuesday’s events and how it changes the way we listen to Wilco’s new album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. “A lot of weight has been added to a lot of music,” Tweedy said, when asked about the significance of the song “War on War.” “Music is all about spirit,” he said, and that the message of that song is “working towards less fear is the only way to live” and that you’ve got to “learn how to fail.”
They talked about how they’re going on their upcoming tour because the new record is out now. Unofficially, of course, but everybody who wants to hear has already heard it. In fact, they’re streaming the whole album from their official website. It’s so insane that Reprise wouldn’t release this album. Apparently, after they sent the final mixes to the label, Reprise responded by saying that they “don’t hear it,” according to Tweedy. Not even the record label cliché, “We don’t hear the single.” They straight up didn’t hear it, the fucking morons. When asked when and where it was going to come out, Tweedy said, “It will come out eventually and actually it’s out there now. It’s a fact of life right now that once one person gets it, everyone can have it.” They’ve come to accept this apparently. “Music needs a listener,” Tweedy said. But we better not hold our breath for it to be released officially. Not this year anyway according to the band. They’re still “trying to figure out some ways to put it out,” whatever that means.
Then they got around to the subject of the changing line-up. By this time I was on the phone on hold, trying to think of something decent to ask. So I couldn’t take notes very well, but I did catch a few things. “People grow in different directions at different speeds. Things change. Friends leave.” And when asked what he thought about how some of the fans freaked out about Bennett leaving, Tweedy said, “I understand why people feel that way. People don’t like change. Ken [Coomer, former drummer] and Jay contributed an enormous amount to the band.”
Then it was time for some calls. They took mine. “Jake’s got a question for you guys.” I stumbled around for a second trying to thank them for not making me feel guilty about downloading the new album. “You should still feel guilty,” Tweedy said to me. Ha ha, everyone laughed. They told me that they hope I buy the album when it comes out. “Oh I will, I will,” I said like the nerdy little fan that I am. Then they plugged their website some more and tried to remember its address. Then I asked my question, “I’ve heard that Jay had, like, hundreds of guitars and stuff. Do you guys have any equipment left?” Yup, that’s what I came up with. Tweedy snickered a little and said something like “We’re doing all right” or something like that. The hosts said something like “You should see their rehearsal space. There’s this giant wall of guitars,” and Tweedy sighed, “Not anymore…” So it was kind of funny. The next guy who called asked something far more intelligent and interesting, but I don’t remember what it was.
Then they started on their Desert Island Disks feature. Tweedy immediately threw out “I Got a Brand New Pair of Roller Skates” by Melanie. Leroy Bach wanted “The Cricketer” by Roy Harper. John Stirrat requested Colin Blunstone’s “Say You Don’t Mind.” Glenn Kotche said he would have picked “Sister Ray” but instead he opted for a song by the English psychedelic band, Patto. Tweedy then officially chose “Don’t be So Fearful” by Bill Fay from his 1971 album, Time of Last Persecution.
Then it was 11:30 pm, and although the show was going to go on for another hour, I am a working stiff, so I had to get some sleep. Too bad my cassette deck and all my blank tapes are in storage, otherwise I would have taped it.