Pity Jay Bennett. In I Am Trying To Break Your Heart, Sam Jones’ new “documentary” about the making of Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, the former Wilco guitarist comes across as self-absorbed and out of touch with the rest of the world. Instead of displaying the typical motivation for antisocial musician behavior—sex, drugs, money—Bennett just seems to be a guy who’s not very cool. A geek. Someone mocked by his own bandmates, who has the unfortunately poor judgement to quote himself in an on-camera interview, a musician who spends more time obsessing about esoteric production issues than strumming chords. This is a somewhat expected depiction—Bennett is the guy who got kicked out of the band in the middle of the making of this film. There’s certainly no reason to expect Jones to be fair to him, not when Jones is the guy whose still photography appears in the liner notes to the album. Especially not when Jones is looking to get the band’s cooperation in the release of a double disc DVD of his movie. No, what is surprising is that the rest of Wilco doesn’t come off looking much better than Bennett, especially frontman Jeff Tweedy. “Pot Kettle Black” indeed.
Let the record show that I am a Wilco fan. A big one. They are undoubtedly my favorite band. Thus, I did genuinely enjoy I Am Trying… But know that the film is not what it could have been and at times even embarrassing. Know this—and go see it anyway.
The main problem with I Am Trying…, with most band films for that matter, is one of focus. It’s clear Jones went into this production with open eyes and cameras rolling. And he shot some amazing footage while witnessing the creation of an epic album, one that turned into a big story when it got rejected by Reprise Records and digitally bootlegged around the world, then released a year later on another label. But it’s also plain to see Jones never figured out who his audience is. The film tells a chronological tale of the recording of YHF with a juicy subplot in the firing of Bennett—as good a structure as any on which to hang a documentary, but this isn’t a documentary. It’s more of a band expose—think of a black-and-white “Behind the Music”—yet one surprisingly devoid of exposition. There is little-to-no use of narration, title cards, or historical footage. This is a film that presumes you already know quite a bit about Wilco.
I Am Trying… might require fan club membership, but telling a story that most of us music geeks and Wilco-obsessives already know in a chronological fashion is a peculiar decision. Sure, we get a few chortles out of the scenes where the band’s collective expectations of Reprise run high, long before they get shit-canned, but there is no drama in patiently waiting for shoes numbers one and two to drop. A lot of film time is wasted following a plot that need not be followed, not if this was truly a film for the fan. The fallout is considerable: Important ground that should be covered just isn’t. Why was former drummer Ken Coomer fired just before Jones began filming? How much did the album change after Reprise gave it back? Did the events of Sept. 11 (which happened while Wilco was in limbo between labels) affect the band’s decision about what to do with the album? How does Wilco feel about its fans’ widespread piracy of the album while it was still unreleased? Did streaming the album over the Internet six months before its eventual release have an effect on efforts to shop it around to other labels? These are just a handful of questions that weren’t adequately addressed.
While this list could be writ longer without much trouble, Jones is probably not as negligent as this implies. I’m inclined to believe that his cameras probably captured anything and everything we might have wanted to see—we know for a fact he’s got a lot more musical footage readied for the DVD—but editing decisions left a lot of good stuff on the cutting room floor. Even using the footage already present in the film and re-editing it to eliminate the laborious narrative structure, it would be possible to save a huge chunk of time. Time that could have been devoted to something more interesting, like the hugely unspoken piracy issue. (No indie movie has a budget to go much longer than 90 minutes; minutes are money.)
Perhaps when the DVD is released, I can do my own “fan-tom edit,”creating a version of the film aimed squarely at Wilco’s devoted fan base. Jones clearly didn’t take this route. He hedged his bets, following a documentary path that’s so familiar as to make its subject appear to be accessible to the average Angelika moviegoer, the person who might have read about the hubub with Reprise in the Times. Yet I’d be shocked to find this ordinary viewer getting much of anything from I Am Trying…, there’s just not enough backstory to make things make sense. The non-fan needs to be told the story of the band before YHF, the evolution from the Uncle Tupelo days. Without this knowledge, without understanding how both Being There and Summerteeth had aspired to the sort of greatness that YHF actually achieves, the footage of the recording sessions cannot possibly carry the requisite gravity. I, we—the fans—feel the tension and import of each frame of celluloid, but it’s just not possible for the non-fan to get it.
Jones’ indecision, his creation of a film that falls so squarely between catering to the unknowing and prostrating itself before the hardcores fails both constituencies. Worse, I worry about what it might do to those who come to the film primed to enter our club of enlightenment in thinking Wilco is the best thing since… well, Uncle Tupelo.
The best parts of I Am Trying… are the musical interludes and concert sequences, especially the scenes from Tweedy’s solo shows, all filmed as you’d expect them to be, with great sound and good camera work. These scenes are entirely satisfying, but in between, the behind-the-scenes glimpses reveal Wilco is not a band of legend in the traditional fashion of rock and roll. We already know this, that these guys are record collectors and musical equipment junkies rather than rock stars. But seeing it on screen can be painful, and I’m not even talking about the domestic squabble between the members of the band, the kind of reality that’s never fun to watch outside of an episode of Cops. (Not to mention the scene where we get to see Tweedy vomit.) More harmful to the psyche is the consideration that significant numbers of movie-goers will have no context in which to place Tweedy and Bennett’s exceptional display of what can only be a tendency towards obsessive-compulsive disorder. And that’s the most painful point of I Am Trying… that breaks my heart: The thought that people will see this film and think my favorite band is a bunch of nerds.
But they are. This is a band that eats its critical acclaim for breakfast, lunch and dinner, a band that pays the bills by touring for the same 100,000 fans, 5,000 at a time. We’re nerds too, this is a point to be celebrated. But for some reason, there’s this persistent thought in our community that one day, the rest of the world will discover the greatness that “is/was” Wilco, thus vindicating our own collective and personal weirdness. We can all see the headlines: “Geeks rejoice! Tweedy outsells Britney.” While I’m sure of the band’s greatness, just as I’m sure Jay Bennett is really the cool guy he was when we interviewed him, just as I’m sure that Jeff Tweedy isn’t a prick for booting his drummer and guitarist within the space of six months to more tightly draw the “circle” back around him, Jones’ film pretty much makes me give up on the dream of commercial success for this most cherished of bands.
And I Am Trying… gives me further reason to worry. YHF is a great album. I’ve been living with it and listening regularly for over a year. But it’s at the extreme edge of what I’m willing to accept, from Wilco or from any band. In the movie Jay Bennett explains that every song starts as a folk song, a philosophy that has grounded Wilco since the days of Uncle Tupelo. Here’s hoping the band doesn’t lose sight of this idea, at least not in the way that Bennett did in making his overproduced The Palace at 4 AM. I want to love Wilco for the songs and the rock and roll, just like I always have. I have no desire for the band to return to its alt.country roots (whatever that means), but the noise and experimentation that make YHF what it is are dangerous drugs. Without restraint, this path can lead to the kind of unlistenable crap that ruins a band with artistic vision in excess of talent. (Radiohead comes to mind, though I’m liable to divert the point of this article just by mentioning them. Let’s save that discussion for another time.) Having now seen Tweedy’s antics projected on a 30-foot screen and having seen his post-Bennett live show, well… I repeat, mantra-like, that I am sure of the band’s greatness.
Wilco is truly at a crossroads, having finally, through great effort and considerable casualty, succeeded in releasing its most ambitious project, its best album. Where do you go from such a summit? Jones’ film avoids asking the question, yet clearly colors the scenario. To his credit, he didn’t make the sort of record company propaganda flick that would lead us to believe Wilco’s next feat will be to cure world hunger. So as our appetite for greatness from Tweedy and Co. has never been greater, it has never been more potentially disappointing. I Am Trying… feeds us as it starves us, serving most importantly as yet another chapter in the biography of a most important band.
44 thoughts on “Trying: The Wilco Movie”
Great, great article. The description of Wilco’s fans was spot-on. I don’t recall having met any casual fans of the band. At least not since the release of Being There. Once you “get it,” you’re gotten. And if you don’t? Well, there’s always Ryan Adams [snicker] It’s a constant struggle between trying not to feel smug for knowing and being into something that is just shy of mainstream, and telling every stranger you meet to buy Summerteeth right now and listen to it 4 times straight before you’ll speak to them again.
Not having seen the movie yet (September 6, baby) I can’t comment too much about it, but from everything I’ve heard so far, I had a feeling Bennett might not get the fairest of shakes. I think though, that one need not worry too much about the non-fan seeing this and being turned off by the band’s nerdiness. I just doubt too many strangers to the fold will hear about a little B&W film about that band whose t-shirts the weird poet-type kid down the street is always wearing. If nothing else, hopefully the extra footage on the DVDs will be enough to scratch the itch for the rest of us.
Again, good job, Sab. Hopefully it will prod a few more folks into learning about the band get them hooked as well.
I know this is most probably a stupid question but are there any plans for a release outside of America (i.e. Ireland)?
For the international release question, you might want to try contacting Plexifilm at http://www.plexifilm.com/wilco.html or see what you can gather through the wilcofilm.com Web site. (It is going to show in Canada.) Or you could just buy it on DVD…
Fuck you, Elliot. Wilco and Ryan Adams are two of my favorite musical acts. Shame on you for your boring musical elitism. You don’t have to be a weird poet kid in a t-shirt to appreciate Wilco. And you can like other bands that sprang from the supposed “alt.country” movement without being too uncultured to “get” Wilco.
Good article, Jeff, I’ve been wondering what this movie was like.
But fuck you, Elliot. Ryan Adams is amazing.
I won’t get started on the whole Ryan Adams vs. the rest of the world thing. Suffice it to say, I don’t have anything against him, but I think a lot of his praise is unwarranted. How did I come across as elitist? And for that matter, what on earth did I say that warranted a “fuck you?” I agreed, if you’ll notice, with the author’s description of the band’s fans. So I guess he gets a “fuck you” from Katy too. I never said you _had_ to be anything to like Wilco, but the fact remains that they have a “type” of fan. I think, from talking about it with them, that many of their fans tend to see Adams as someone with a lot of potential but who choses to waste it or direct it toward pointless ends. When he releases his Summerteeth or YHF, come back and see me.
As far as elitism goes, well, sorry. I don’t see it. And I certainly don’t see how one would have to be “cultured” to enjoy Wilco. Just ask Katy. Ha ha ha. But anyway. Anytime someone claims not to like a particular artist/band who happens to be a critical darling at the moment, he or she is called an elitist. That’s the way it goes I guess.
The overlap between the whole rabid alt.country fanbase and that of Wilco is getting smaller by the day. This is a good thing.
Yeah, fuck you Elliot, man. Fuck you.
No, seriously, I saw the movie and being myself only a casual fan of Wilco (sorry) I’ll say the review was pretty spot on. By far the best parts of the flick are the performances. The soap opera stuff between the members is pretty boring. If that little non-argument was enough to make Tweedy barf I’d hate to see the mundane stuff that got left out of the movie. As far as the whole story of them being dropped by Reprise, etc and so forth, well, everyone already knew that story going into the movie, so that part was boring, too. The live performances were really good, though.
That Bennet guy definitely comes off as a pompus pain in the ass, but I still feel bad for him.
Excellent writing, Sabu – you really nailed the movie in a lot of ways. Spot-on.
I actually am what you might call a “casual” Wilco fan. I think they’re really, really great, and I’m even in an “alt.country” kind of band, but when I listen to music, I just usually go for something that I can shake my ass to a little more.
That said, I thought I Am Trying… was very good. I learned a lot that I didin’t know about the band, and finally got some insight on the whole Jay-Bennett-getting-short-changed bit that I’d heard so much about. What I loved most, though, were the extended musical sequences from the shows and from the studio. Too many “music documentaries” focus so heavily on the band that the music doesn’t make much of an impression.
Sab, you’re right that there are more things that could (should?) have been covered, but on its own, I think this is a great movie for anyone who appreciates the band at all. I’m all over that DVD action, too – that’ll be boss.
Fuck. There I go with the stupid tags again… I forget we can’t do that in comments. grrrrrr…
[Glad to see that you’re getting the most out of Crain’s, Jeff.]
This whole notion of Wilco being somehow ‘non-mainstream’ is mystifying to me. I bought my copy of YHF at Target. On sale. Not because they were trying to get rid of them. But because it was a new release. I could have picked it up at Circuit City. Same thing. New release. On sale. Or Best Buy. Same deal.
In addition to which, about a week after the official release, the ‘USA Weekend’ Sunday newspaper supplement included an interview with Tweedy.
We’re no longer musing the obscure here, folks.
Good job Elliot!! It only took a few posts for the invariable idiot to call you an elitist or a snob for not liking their favorite band/artist. Usually happens with Dave Matthews or Phish fans, but I haven’t heard a good Ryan Adams apologist come out since that horrible Gold album was released.
I know the college kids and high-school students really think Ryan is “cool” and “rebellious” -especially with his fancy-ass Gap ads out (I’m sure I’ll be called an elitest for that) — but please know that he is a Joke. Adams is laughed at by anyone with a modicum of taste in music and by all of his musical contemporaries other than the Counting Crows and Alanis Morrissette. He is basically a guy performing karaoke.
Ryan Adams is to Wilco, what Goo Goo Dolls are to the Replacements. Ryan Adams is Candlebox to Wilco’s Nirvana. Ryan Adams is Ned’s Atomic Dustbin to Wilco’s Jesus&Mary Chain.
Don’t sweat it…that girl is probably from Indiana or Wisconsin or something. They are usually a couple of clicks down on the culture ladder. The hicks get “it” eventually.
Now that was elitist. True maybe, but elitist. I’m not going to bash Adams on this thread though. He does it well enough on his own. But you’re definitely right, Troof, about the ridiculous way people compare and/or lump him in with Wilco. It doesn’t even matter who’s “better” – they’re so different in terms of style and intent that mentioning them in the same breath is straight-out bizarre. It must come back to many folks’ stubborn perception of Wilco as a rootsy band still. That aspect of the band will always be present to some degree, I suspect, but they haven’t been about “ruralness” or Stones-derived rawk for quite a long time.
As for a couple of posts prior, Wilco may not be “non-mainstream,” hence Target, Borders, Circuit City, et al, but that’s not the same as getting actual exposure on commercial radio/MTV/average people knowing who you are. Last time I went to Target about a week ago, there were two copies of YHF for sale. They both had blue covers, which means they didn’t even sell out their orignal shipment. Hell, I saw a Fugazi CD there once. Are they mainstream now? Wilco is a tweener, a la Fountains of Wayne or Soul Coughing. I guess it just depends on your definition of mainstream. That’s why I agreed with Sab’s description of their fans. We know the band is just shy of being widely known, but they’ve never quite crossed over. Frankly, as long as the band continues to release good music and is satisfied with their standing, I hope they stay in their current slot.
At the risk of diverting attention from Jeff’s piece. . .
Let’s do a little math here:
The total population of the U.S. is approximately 286 million people. The aforementioned ‘USA Weekend’ goes to 48 million readers. Which, not to put too fine a point on it, is one hell of a chunk of the ENTIRE population.
Do you think for a picosecond that the folks at Gannett are going to provide space in that publication to anyone that they think may be on the margins?
That’s my definition of mainstream.
Do you think for one picosecond that 48 million Americans know who the hell Wilco is? That would be like buying a Superbowl ad and claiming the next day that your brand-new product has been completely accepted by half of the television-viewing market. It’s a well-known fact that USA Today’s circulation numbers are artificially inflated by motels and hotels buying the stupid paper in bulk for customers who will only read the front page and throw the rest away anyway. Besides, how many discerning folks go to USA Today when they want to get the scoop on that hot edgy new band? Being exposed once (on the most white-bread of forums, no less) just as your new album is coming out does not make a band mainstream. Ask Gillian Welch or The Flaming Lips. You can spout circulation numbers and show off your periodical industry cred by naming the owners of USA Today all you like, but it doesn’t change the facts on the ground.
Obviously, Wilco is not an underground band playing backyard shows or max occupancy-50 bars. We get it. Does that mean they’re on the same plane as Creed? Forget it. I was saying that they were on the edge. Tweeners, as in ‘in between.’ Let it go.
Mac, you’re wrong on this one. Target and USA Today do not make something mainstream. The reason Wilco gets into USA Today is because of the hype surrounding Reprise and their fuck up in dropping the band. It’s a juicy story, and you know Nonesuch was riding it to PR success as a way to differentiate Wilco from all the other bands who might be about to cross over. The reason Target sells YHF (but I’ll bet they don’t have more than one other Wilco disc for sale) is because it’s new. They won’t stock it for much longer than a year, once they realize it’s not departing the racks in Linkin Park-like numbers.
Anyway, forget diverting attention from my article with this tangent for a minute and let’s do it with the other: What’s so wrong with Ryan Adams? My better half has bought two of his discs and I like them all right for what they are. Which is decent country-rock, not much worse than Lucinda Williams. (Compared to Steve Earle, Adams is a poseur, but then again so are most singer/songwriters.) I’ll admit to knowing not a hoot about Adams personally, but what exactly did he do to be considered a phony?
Oh no, Sab. You really don’t want to open this can of worms. It’s so ugly. (You have just proven beyond reasonable doubt that you are not an alt-country snob though, and that you don’t spend any time on alt-country message boards or mailing lists.)
Ugly? That’s my middle name. I hereby move the discussion of Ryan Adams to the message board: https://gloriousnoise.com/bb/viewtopic.php?t=210
I object to anyone saying that people from Indiana are a ‘couple of clicks down on the culture ladder’. I’m downright offended! Now back to my whiddlin’ and straw chewin’.
Seriously, though, this has turned into a Ryan vs. Wilco debate?
No, that debate has been taken to the message board. Feel free to post here about how you thought my article was brilliant, etc., and how this brilliance made it clear I am not from Indiana.
For more on Wilco fans and their (our) insanity, check out my article about the division in the alt.country world over Summerteeth: https://gloriousnoise.com/arch/000166.php
Jeff, Jeff, Jeff. . .
Let’s think about something here. The only thing that Gannett (and I was talking about “USA Weekend,” not “USA Today”)and Target Corp. are interested in is moving product. New product, yes. But product that is going to appeal to the masses. I’m not so naive to think (as a previous post seems to indicate) that all 48 million people couldn’t wait to run their eyes over a story about Wilco in their Sunday tabloid, but as you and I both know, Jeff, what gets ink (or featured in a sales flyer) is what is presumed to be sufficiently tantalizing to a critical mass (vide, “No Logo”). And once that appeal is gone, then so it goes.
The whole issue of Reprise is pretty much the proverbial “inside baseball”; the only performer who could sell newspapers based on being punked from a label is Mariah Carey.
My whole point is that Wilco is not as marginal as some might like to think. Perhaps that’s a hoped-for situation, based on the notion of once someone “makes it” or goes “mainstream” that their somehow sullied by success and consequently lose their cred. Which is not necessarily the case.
And now I rest mine.
According to the RIAA, YHF hasn’t gone Gold yet (500,000 copies). But I’ve heard that people with access to the SoundScan numbers are saying it’s somewhere in the 250-300,000 range now. So the question becomes: Can a band that sells 300,000 copies of their new album be considered obscure? The other question is whether USA Weekend thinks that YHF is “sufficiently tantalizing to a critical mass” or if AOL Time Warner coerced them (either directly or indirectly) to run it… By the way, here is the link to the USA Weekend article: http://www.usaweekend.com/02_issues/020407/020407wilco.html
The population of Tampa, Florida, a non-obscure city by most accounts, is 303,447. So if each of the residents had a copy of YHF, it could be assumed that. . .oh hell.
OK, re-posting my inappropriately placed question here: Would a non-Wilco fan, who has interest in the music industry and the making of an album in general enjoy the movie?
Maybe. You might be a bit bored. The film does have a decent “insider” vibe about the music biz, but there’s little information to allow a non-Wilco fan to really get what’s going on. There are some dynamite “concert” sequences and hell, support the Music Box and indie filmmaking and go see it regardless.
I think the shots of Tweedy’s solo tour are engaging enough to a mildly interested viewer to be worth checking out. Anyone who is nutty about music would probably dig the film.
Ok, Helen. Here’s what my NYC friend who definitely knows about film and music and is NOT a Wilco fan had to say:
“saw i am trying to break your heart last night…fabulous fotography of chicagoland…but even with a migraine of my own, i couldn’t feel anything but ahboration for tweedy’s quest for mediocrity and money. it’s a documentary of the dead soul of pop music. so what if he trumped Warner. itz only white middle class entertainment
you probably feel much differently…”
Though I haven’t seen it yet (except for a sneak preview at a record release, I probably WILL feel much differently than my friend. I think I can wait for the DVD tho’ since I hate sitting in movie theaters.
Wow — that is quite insightful. You quoted someone from NYC AND knows about the fine art of film – and that is what they dropped on us?!?!?! Well, as long as you stated they live in NYC – I guess their opinion is valid.
I have a quote that someone I know from (hang on…) LONDON who saw the film – and knows a lot about theatre! Keep your eyes out, as soon as I get the quote I’ll post it and you will ALL be duly impressed….
Chris, I think Mad’s point was in posting the opinion of a person into music and film, but not necessarily into Wilco, not in trying to impress us somehow by name-checking NYC.
I’m a Wilco fan. I’ve been a Wilco fan for years. I love this band and the music they make. Which is why, after reading your review of “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart”, I have to ask: Are you a Wilco fan? I don’t mean to imply that being a Wilco fan requires that you love this film out of blind allegiance to the band (Personally, I loved the film.). Rather, I take issue with the comments you made regarding the future of Wilco’s music. You state that even though you love YHF, “it’s at the extreme limit of what I’m willing to accept from Wilco”, and “the noise and experimentation that make YHF what it is are dangerous drugs…without restraint.” It almost seems as if you’re imposing your own limitations as a listener on the band and their creative impulses. I don’t think it’s fair to the artist or the listener to say, “Perfect! I love this album you’ve made! Now…Don’t change a thing! Do exactly the same thing, only different.” Once you remove the element of risk from music, or any other art form, you really lose your ability to challenge yourself as an artist or a fan. I believe that change and experimentation is at the very heart of what makes Wilco a great band. They’ve always been a band that is moving forward, not content to stay in the same place for too long. They’re also a band that shows a great deal of restraint, which is apparent from viewing the recording process in the film. These guys are constantly retooling, approaching songs from a different perspective, and asking “What’s needed? What should be taken out?”. I don’t think they throw paint against the wall and say “Done”. My point is that the fan enjoys a passive role in his/her relationship to the band. We really have no say, as fans, as to what path the band takes with their music. You can only react to what you hear. When you start to believe that you have the right to dictate to a band what sort of music they should be making, you cease to be a fan in my opinion.
One more thing….Black-and-White Behind the Music!?! Huh? I mean, you’re entitled to your opinion and all, but really…HUH?!? Did you see a director’s cut with a deleted scene showing Tweedy doing blow off some groupie chick’s ass backstage or something?
I only WISH that Behind the Music was remotely as good as this film! I see this film as the antithesis of Behind the Music. To quote Greg Kot from the film, “This band IS the music.”
I guess it depends on your interpretation of “fan.” If you define it as a fanatic who blindly accepts whatever an artist creates, then I’m pretty sure that Mr. Sabatini could not be considered a fan. But if you define a fan as a person who has enjoyed an artist’s output thus far, but still retains a critical perspective and opinion about art, then Mr. Sabatini (you can call him Jeff or Sab if you’d like — we call him much worse) is definitely a fan.
No one here is telling Wilco what they can or cannot create. We’re just saying that if they start making shitty music, we’re not going to like it. Are you?
I think I understand now. You’re not telling Wilco what kind of music they can make. You’re just advising them to continue making GOOD music like they’ve made up to this point in time…because the minute they start making BAD music, you won’t be pleased. To sum up: Good Music = GOOD. Bad Music = Bad.
Here’s a crazy idea: What say we let the band put out another album, and THEN decide whether it’s shitty or not? I am not a fan who “blindly accepts whatever an artist creates.” But I definitely reserve judgement until I have actually heard an album. If Sab has truly enjoyed Wilco’s music and growth as artists up until now, why does he feel the need to be skeptical of their future direction…whatever that may be?
“Good Music = GOOD. Bad Music = Bad.” You’ve stumbled upon the Holy Mantra of Glorious Noise. Well done, my son. You are ready to advance to the next level.
It’s just disheartening that “experimentation” seems to have taken on such a negative connotation, and not just in this review, where I think(?)it’s referring only to the so-called “noise” element of YHF. The view of Wilco’s creative process in the film reaffirmed my opinion that this is such a great vital band because they are constantly challenging and and changing themselves (and by proxy the listeners who are willing to take the journey). Like any artists they are at their best when passionately pursuing what is interesting to them in the moment; if they merely began to repeat themselves, I think I’d be disappointed. “Experimentation” cannot be reduced to one element of the music; it is constantly growing and trying new things. You may like the results, you may not (although I take an optimistic view of Wilco’s future endeavors). In any case, if someone is alienated by change, well that’s their perogative, and one less person I have to battle for tickets to the shows. But like I said, it is disheartening to hear someone reject the very process that I think makes Wilco such strong artists.
Sounds like Tweedy agrees with you about the movie, Sab:
CNN: What do you think about the film, “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart,” and the story it told — your story?
TWEEDY: […]I think Sam was true to what story he wanted to tell and it was the story that was most interesting to him. It has a heavy focus on the band going through the changes we went through. It ended up not being as much about the record being made as it ended up being about the changes in the personnel and the changes with our record label. And over time, that has become less of an interesting topic to us. But I totally think it’s a beautiful movie, the way it looks and the way the story is told.
how silly some of you are. have any of you spent any time around muscians? good lord their arrogance is part of their ability to actually get to the point where people like you can purchase their cd in a store. i feel that some sort of halo was placed upon jeff’s head by critics as well as this reviewer.get a life.
wow. i can’t believe i actually had the patience to SCAN through all the mindless blather that is posted on this discussion. i like wilco, i think they are good, honest musicians, and i know casual fans. the thing i don’t understand is why a bunch of people continue to argue and make generalizations under the guise of sounding intelligent. blah blah blah. don’t frustrate yourself. the fact remains, you are all just people at work abusing your computer privileges because you are lazy bastards. how’s that for generalization?
No I haven’t seen it yet,but the review makes me want to as a member of an indie guitar rock band currently in the studio recording our third CD,I get into the idea of seeing anyone elses creative process and comparing it to my own experiences.While I have not seriously listened to Wilco since Being There (I originally liked them for their alt country sound that really inspired me while recording my last album,and they’ve just moved so far away from what I liked about them in the first place – I only have the first two albums)I still think Tweedy is a great writer and want to check out what he’s doing these days.The aspect of them being vintage equipment and record collectors is enticing too, because that’s what my band has always been into as well.
As a musician who was just barely aware of alt.country and utterly unaware of Wilco, I thought IATTBYH was great. I was on the edge of my seat, I laughed, I cried, I ate popcorn…
My wife, also unaware of Wilco, and NOT a musician, really objected to the 90 minutes of her life that she’ll never get back. But, despite the soapy narcissistic excesses of the movie, I saw enough there to know I would like these guys’ CD. I bought YHF, and played it nonstop for a week. This is great stuff, and I’d love to get the DVD to catch the extra concert footage.
I got the following impressions, take ’em or leave ’em: Tweedy is a hypersensitive dickweed, but writes a mean song, especially good match between material and voice. Bennett is pompous and overanalytical, may have helped turn YHF into something a bit more sophisticated – but I don’t hear a big difference between the Jeff-only credits and the Jeff-n-Jay-together pieces. The other guys didn’t really make an impression, other than I got a sense of I-agree-with-Jeff-please-don’t-fire-me. Only time will tell whether they’re better without Jay or not.
One more thing – if Wilco ever becomes bargain-bin fodder, Jeff’s got a great career ahead of him in a Kinks tribute band. Spot-on Ray Davies sound, right down to the recording technique.
“Telling tales of drunkenness and cruelty…”
Wilco deserves a broader following like many other serious artists. I just saw Wilco a week ago Sunday in Iowa City, (a couple of clicks up from most places) with several former members of another band that deserved a much bigger following; Tripmaster Monkey. The songs are real and personal and the craftsmanship of the music does not get in the way, but heightens the emotional response. Great Show! We are working to bring “I am Trying”to our area through our Film Society. Will post time and date when scheduled. Ars Gratia Artis
I found myself with a hunk of time on my hands, so I’m going through the Glono archives. Great article, Jeff! I haven’t seen the movie, seeing as I found out about the existence of Wilco through this site roughly 3 months ago. I am what you’d call a casual fan, and it would be weird for me to totally devote myself to a band on the basis of only two albums. Beyond that, I love love love Summerteeth and YHF. And from the spirited discussions I’ve heard, I doubt I’d like the others much (as a vehement hater of all things country.) I’d still be interested in seeing the movie though. And even more interested in hearing the new one, A Ghost is Born.
“I got the following impressions, take ’em or leave ’em: Tweedy is a hypersensitive dickweed, but writes a mean song, especially good match between material and voice. Bennett is pompous and overanalytical, may have helped turn YHF into something a bit more sophisticated – but I don’t hear a big difference between the Jeff-only credits and the Jeff-n-Jay-together pieces. The other guys didn’t really make an impression, other than I got a sense of I-agree-with-Jeff-please-don’t-fire-me. Only time will tell whether they’re better without Jay or not.”
My thoughts exactly. And without Bennett they are neither better nor worse. They just are. I guess YHF will remain their best album. (Being There is sooooo overrrated.)