Friday, July 8th, Door Community Auditorium
Since returning to the country last May after over 5 months abroad, catching up on the music scene has become one of my most important missions. The music on my IPOD, stale after months of listening to shuffle, needs an update.
I’ve done a lot of google-ing and youtube-ing, and a lot of looking at summer concert schedules in Wisconsin and Chicago. After all, there’s nothing like live music to get you totally jazzed – the feeling of being in the presence of a great performer is electric and exhilarating.
That said, I was surprised and excited to hear that Jeff Tweedy, singer and lyricist for the band Wilco, would be on the DCA’s stage over the summer. Their 2002 album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, was a regular in my CD player during my tumultuous teenage years. Tweedy brought me through high school with songs like, “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart:”
I am an American aquarium drinker
I assassin down the avenue
I’m hiding out in the big city blinking
what was I thinking when I let go of you
Or the soul soothing, “Jesus, Etc.”
Jesus, don’t cry
you can rely on me honey
you can combine anything you want
I’ll be around
you were right about the stars
each one is a setting sun
Since that fateful album, they’ve released 2004’s A Ghost is Born, a live-recorded album, and the self-titled album, Wilco, in 2009. The title track is a little more rocking than some of Tweedy’s past, more melancholy melodies, but the lyrics still speak to the human condition: uncertainty, loneliness, conflict. “Are you being attacked? Oh this is a fact, that you need to know, Oh, Wilco, Wilco, Wilco, Wilco will love you Baby.”
So much did that album effect me that when Lagunitas Brewing Company came out with the beer, “Wilco, Tango, Foxtrot,” aka “WTF” my co-workers and I at the Wild Tomato all initially thought it a tribute to the band Wilco, and not, as it truly is, a military term. In our defense – if you google the beer, the fourth link down says, “Wilco, Tango, Foxtrot Ale not connected with Wilco.”
This all reminds me of the one of the first mix cds ever made for me during my freshman year of collage. The mix was made for me by a tall, angular, moody musician who didn’t do as well with spoken words as he did with music. It included the song, “She’s a Jar,” from Wilco’s 1999 album, Summerteeth.
When I forget how to talk I sing
Won’t you please
Bring that flash to shine
And turn my eyes red
Unless they close
When you click
And my face gets sick
Like a question unposed
The song struck a chord with me, and I listened to it, exlusively, for a long time. I still have a real, sentimental fondness for it, but also an admiration for the way the song is crafted.
The thing about Wilco – the thing that really catches you – are the lyrics. Each song can be viewed separately from the music, like a poem. Yet the music completes the songs and the experience of the words.
Tweedy has an incredible gift for songwriting, and his work continues to grow, change, and pleasantly surprise his listeners. Needless to say, I love Wilco, have loved them a long time, and am very excited to hear the talented Jeff Tweedy play at the DCA.