Since 1995 I’ve been a Wilco fan, but have not been true. I’m pretty sure Jeff and I saw their first New England shows on the heels of “AM,” and we caught another a year later when they toured to support their sophomore effort, “Being There.” After that I went astray. I admit I didn’t put any effort into their “Mermaid Avenue” releases with Billy Bragg, but those records are still there to be discovered and enjoyed…or not. In any event, it’ll be brand new.
In ’99, Jeff gave me an advance copy of “Summerteeth,” but it didn’t grab me. More pages were ripped from calendars and Jeff Tweedy kept on writing and playing brilliant songs. In 2002, a newly constituted Wilco released “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” and a documentary of its recording, “I am Trying to Break Your Heart.” The film also chronicles the last days of multi-instrumentalist Jay Bennett with the band and the dumping of the band by Reprise Records after Tweedy refused to compromise over musical changes requested by the label. Over what seemed to be minor artistic differences, Bennett and Wilco were both told to hit the bricks. A couple weeks ago, I watched the film in high-definition, followed by an HD performance by the band on “Austin City Limits.” (ACL performance of I’m a Wheel”)
After immersing myself in the combined 150 minutes of Wilco-age, I just shook my head (really, I actually gave it a shake) and thought, “what a brilliant band.” Since then I’ve been on a post-1999 Wilco bender… “Summerteeth,” “Foxtrot,” their latest, “A Ghost is Born,” and “Kicking Television: Live In Chicago” recorded over four nights in 2005 on their home court in Chicago at the Vic Theatre.
I still have the film and ACL show on my DVR, so feel free to come watch, but don’t do a “pop in,” call first. Until then, here’s a short sample of “Outta Mind, Outta Sight” from “Being There,” and a great site for Wilco lyrics called A Sea Black with Ink.
What a brilliant band…