Tag Archives: Wilco

New Wilco video: Before Us

Video: Wilco -- “Before Us”

Wilco "Before Us" (Ode to Joy session)

Directed by Zoran Orlic. From Ode to Joy, out now on dBpm.

I saw Wilco in concert a few weeks ago and they still put on a great show. I am a solid member of the old school Wilco fan camp who believes they made their best stuff in their first ten years of existence, but I’m not such a hater as to dismiss everything they’ve done since Jay Bennett was given the boot.

I’ll admit that the last album I really loved all the way through was Wilco (The Album), but that was also--perhaps not coincidentally--the last Wilco album I purchased in a physical format. I can accept the possibility that I just haven’t dedicated the time to fully appreciate the four studio albums they released since then.

My overall impression of their recent releases is that they each have a few songs I like, a few songs I don’t, and a bunch of songs I immediately forget. That’s not so bad. They’ve been doing this a long time. What do you expect?

“Before Us” falls into the latter category. It’s pretty but boring. Pleasant but…is that it?

While I realize it would be cost prohibitive for a band that pays for and releases its own recordings, at this point in their lifespan it might be interesting for them to get out of the Loft, where they’ve recorded everything since 2007’s Sky Blue Sky, and work with an outside producer. For all the current lineup’s artrock bonafides, when’s the last time they did anything that surprised you? I’m sure the Loft is super comfortable, but maybe Tweedy needs somebody to kick his ass a little. Shake things up.

Or maybe not. I’m happy they continue to tour and release new music, and if they’ve found the formula that allows them to do this ad infinitum then good for them. Nothing they’ve released this decade is going to make my desert island list, but guess what: I’m not moving to a desert island anytime soon.

Streaming has rendered minimalism and careful curation obsolete. There was a time when people would sell back used CDs that they didn’t think they needed anymore, so that they could afford to buy new stuff. You didn’t want embarrassing shit clogging up your shelves, bringing down the legitimacy of your collection. There’s no need for that anymore.

Keep releasing music and I’ll keep listening. At least a few times before I go back to Being There.

Wilco: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Wilco video: Everyone Hides

Video: Wilco -- “Everyone Hides”

Wilco "Everyone Hides" (Official Video)

Directed by Jamie Fleischel. From Ode to Joy, due October 4, 2019 via dBpm.

Boy, as if I needed another reminder how much I miss living in Chicago…

In Wilco’s new video the band runs around town visiting all the best spots including Laurie’s Planet of Sound, the Music Box, and Wrigley Field. There are several Wilco easter eggs like Pat Sansone catching a matinee of the Peter Sellers film “Being There” and Glenn Kotche sneaking around Marina City.

The song is good too. Similar in spirit to Yankee Hotel Foxtrot‘s “Kamera,” it even echoes the themes of that song (“Which lies I have been hiding” vs. “If you’re selling yourself on a tale…”)

But I don’t know about Tweedy’s whispery vocals. I wish he’d just sing in his regular voice more. Still though, I’m happy Wilco is making new music and I’m looking forward to seeing them on this upcoming tour.

Wilco: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

I Am Trying to Break Your Heart Filmmaker’s Diary

Documentary director Sam Jones kept a “filmmaker’s diary” of his experience working on a movie about Wilco. The documentary would eventually be called “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart” but I remember a short period of time when the film’s web site called it “I’m Trying to Break Your Heart.” (The Internet Wayback Machine tells me the title was updated on wilcofilm.com some time between March 26 and May 23, 2002.)

Jones rolled out the diary to the site every couple of weeks after transcribing his handwritten notes from months before, starting with his writing to Wilco’s manager about the idea in October 2000. The final entry was uploaded in February 2002 after only getting through August 2001. Jones said, “We will continue to update the diary every few weeks with new entries, and have no intention of stopping until the entire story has been told.” Nevertheless, he did not persist. By 2004 the web site was abandoned and in 2005 the wilcofilm.com domain registration was not renewed.

Before he quit the project, Sam Jones contributed over 40,000 words to his filmmaker’s diary. Quite an effort! It would have been cool if he would have seen it through, but even in an incomplete state, it’s a really cool achievement. Inquiries to Jones were not immediately returned. We’re reprinting it here.

October 26, 2000

This film began with an idea and a letter. The idea was that a band that I really loved was probably in the studio recording their fourth record, and there should really be a movie about that. The letter, once I tracked down his address, was sent to the band’s manager, Tony Margherita. It said, in many more words, basically the same thing. But everything that happened next was probably largely a result of those many more words, because they had a conviction that has carried me through the project. I wrote in the letter that I believe Wilco is a band that will stand the test of time. Like The Band, the Clash, Big Star, the Velvet Underground, and Bob Dylan, Wilco makes dense, emotional, timeless records that will keep being discovered by new generations of music lovers.

November 3, 2000

I received a phone call from Tony Margherita, Wilco’s manager, who told me that the idea sounded very promising, and that Jeff Tweedy and Tony would like me to fly to Chicago to meet them. I asked Tony about the schedule and he informed me that the band was about 30% into the making of the new record, tentatively titled “Here Comes Everybody,” and that they were recording entirely in their Chicago loft with no producer or record company personnel present. We talked more about what the band would be doing for the next year, and it seemed very feasible that I would be able to get the whole record-making process on film. Tony suggested I fly to Chicago the next week to talk.

Continue reading I Am Trying to Break Your Heart Filmmaker’s Diary

New Jeff Tweedy video: Some Birds

Video: Jeff Tweedy -- “Some Birds”

Jeff Tweedy "Some Birds" (Official Video)

Directed by Seth Henrikson. From Warm, due November 20.

Jeff Tweedy knows his audience. After all, he was once one of us. His only job outside of being in a band was as a record store clerk, so he understands well the things that set us off. The lead-off video for his upcoming solo album is a quick bit of catnip for folks like us. It starts with a norm-core version of Tweedy--replete in polo shirt, sweater and “haircut”--walking in to what we think is just a quick trim and probably neck clean-up. Instead, it’s the antithesis to “Almost Cut My Hair,” a freak flag anthem dating back more than 45 years.

What’s more, norrm-o Tweedy is serenaded by real Tweedy who uses the occasion to show off all of the double-neck guitars he has…and we don’t. It’s exactly what I would do in his shoes, and so would you.

The song itself is catchy enough. It’s a cool little mid-tempo cruiser punctuated with some 12-string almost-solos. Again, totally my thing.

According to liner notes written by George Saunders and published by The New Yorker, “”Jeff told me once that what he’s trying to communicate to his listener is, ‘You’re O.K. You’re not alone. I’m singing to you, but I also hear you.'”

Well, we hear you too. And we reply with a resounding, “One of us! One of us! One of us!”

Jeff Tweedy: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Wilco song: All Lives, You Say?

Bandcamp: Wilco – “All Lives, You Say?”

Proceeds will go to the Southern Poverty Law Center, in the memory of Jeff Tweedy’s father, Robert L. Tweedy (1933-2017).

“My dad was named after a Civil War general, and he voted for Barack Obama twice. He used to say ‘If you know better, you can do better.’ America – we know better. We can do better.” – Jeff Tweedy

This gesture, of course, takes on pointed connotations in light of the deplorable events in Charlottesville and our orange fuhrer’s tepid reaction.

Continue reading New Wilco song: All Lives, You Say?

What Do They Know?

One of the things that often happens when a performer—be it an actor or a musician—makes a political point is that there is a degree of dismissiveness among some—even among that person’s fans—, a reaction that has it, in effect, “Oh, she’s just an actress, what does she know?” (Or, as our President put it about Meryl Streep, “one of the most-overrated actresses.”)

We can allow these people to move us in their performances, but somehow that has nothing to do with their intelligence or capability or thoughtfulness. They are “just” playing or singing or acting. What do they know?

Of course, when it comes to the campaigning part of politics, it is all good to have the actors and musicians to come on stage with the candidates to lend support, be they Gary Busey or George Clooney, Wayne Newton or Bruce Springsteen. (Yes, I’ve made loaded choices of supporters of the candidates in the last presidential, but they are no less true.)

When Madonna says “Yes, I have thought an awful lot of blowing up the White House, but I know that this won’t change anything,” you’d think that the 58-year-old performer was going to be in charge of life-altering policies for literally hundreds of millions of people; when a presidential candidate says in a speech of his opponent, “If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is. I don’t know,” it gets pretty much treated as though, “Oh, it’s just him being him.”

Actors or musicians, the thinking seems to be, really don’t know more than their crafts. Lawyers and real estate developers—they know lots about everything.

Don’t they?

Continue reading What Do They Know?

Free Download of New Wilco Song Available

Celebrating one year since the surprise release of their last album, Star Wars, Wilco has posted a new song free for the taking—just give ‘em an email.

Wilco -- Locator

If you like the somewhat stutter rhythm and cryptic lyrics of the band’s recent work then you’ll dig this song plenty.

Remember these guys?

Wilco - Full Concert - 11/27/96 - Chicago, IL (OFFICIAL)

Wilco’s Tiny Desk Concert is the Album We Need Right Now

I’ve recently taken to posting confessions on Facebook. Nothing too salacious or embarrassing, just acknowledgements that may be unexpected to my legion of followers. Things like my arbitrary cap on concerts: $50 ticket, no venues larger than 1500. The reasoning behind this cap is a topic for another post, but I’d like to use this opportunity to make another confession:

I’m bored with Wilco.

Given my own personal history with the band and GLONO’s long trail of coverage, this is not easy for me to write. And I want to be clear that I am very happy the band is as successful as they are now—and that’s not some lame qualifier before I launch into a scathing criticism (which I won’t). I really am quite happy that a band from Chicago, who I’ve followed from its earliest days, and who represents everything great in independent music, is successful. We don’t have enough of those success stories. And I love several songs on every album they’ve put out.

But I haven’t loved a whole album since Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.

I think about this a lot and while there are a number of factors, it basically boils down to two things:

  1. I want more songs from Jeff Tweedy—not soundscapes or word play, I want songs. I want structure and melodies and harmonies and stories. The bits I have liked from recent albums all fit this mold.
  2. Simple production. A couple mics, acoustic instruments and capable hands behind the desk. Put a guy like David Rawlings, T-Bone Burnett or even Jack White in the producer role and I’m in.

This isn’t a pipe dream; this could happen. John Mellencamp did it on No Better Than This using a 1955 Ampex portable recording machine and only one microphone. Hell, Uncle Tupelo did something similar on March 17 -20, 1992. And more recently, Wilco recorded an NPR Tiny Desk concert that sounds exactly what I am talking about.

I know I sound like the old man yelling about how great the old days were on this, but I only do it because I care. So please, Wilco: won’t you do an old fan a solid and sit down in front of a couple mics and just play some songs? I promise to shut up for a couple years.

Did you know Wilco used to be called National Dust?

Look what I stumbled across in the May 7, 1994 issue of Billboard. It’s a blurb about the break up of Uncle Tupelo who had played their final show just a few days earlier on May 1.

Billboard May 7 94 Tweedy Coomer National Dust

“Say Uncle: Uncle Tupelo is dissolving, with core member Jeff Tweedy and drummer Ken Coomer forming a new group called National Dust. Tupelo’s other main member, Jay Farrar, is forming his own band. Both new acts have deals with Sire.”

By the time the Red Hot + Country compilation was released in September, which contained Tweedy’s new band’s cover of “The T.B. is Whipping Me,” they had settled on Wilco. Greg Kot quotes Coomer on why the band ditched the National Dust moniker: “The womenfolk weren’t havin’ it.”

Of course, a good name can’t remain unused for long, and by 2005 a Los Angeles cockrock band had taken it on. The fact that this new National Dust sounds like post-makeup KISS and employs Confederate flag imagery is a bummer, but what can you do?

Our Missing Jay Bennett Interview Is Back

A little housekeeping, folks. When we converted from MovableType to WordPress, it seems we lost some of our early, featured content. We didn’t really “lose” it but we definitely orphaned it. If readers and search engines can’t find it, it’s lost for all intents and purposes.

A reader contacted us last night to point out that they could no longer find our 2002 interview we did with Jay Bennett and the track-by-track listing of his contributions to Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. These were major scoops in the early days of GLONO at a time when Wilco and their lackeys were downplaying Bennett’s role in the creation of their masterpiece.

It’s shameful that we let these piece slip through the cracks of a redesign. So now they’re back.

And we still miss Jay Bennett.