Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Listening To You - Wilco Part 1 (The Jay Bennett Years)

One of the two bands to form from the ashes of Uncle Tupelo.  Jay Farrar, formed the other band, Son Volt.  Wilco has had many members throughout their run.  The only originals remaining are; bassist John Stirratt and singer/songwriter/guitarist Jeff Tweedy.  Their current lineup has been one of the steadiest they've had and quite possibly, the best.

My initial exposure to Wilco was in watching the documentary, I Am Trying To Break Your Heart: A Film About Wilco.  Which is a fantastic movie about the workings of a band trying to record an album (which would become, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot) and how the music business works.  Warner Brothers, would drop Wilco from it's roster after they completed the album, but give the band it's master tapes (unheard of), so they could shop the album to another record label.  Then, Wilco would go on to sign with the record label, Nonesuch, which is a subsidiary of, Warner Brothers.  So, Warner Brothers paid for the same album...twice.  That's the music business for you. 

I'm going to start with their second album, Being There.  It's where I truly believe the band we see now, really started.  Here's a couple from that double album, also, major balls to make your second album, a double record.

"I Got You (At The End Of The Century)"

"Far, Far Away"

Our next album is called Summerteeth.  Jay Bennett, who was brought into the band for Being There, really put his stamp on this album.  To go along with him knowing how to play every instrument ever invented, practically.  He was a very respected producer.  The album has a darker tone and Jeff's lyrics were getting stronger.

"A Shot In The Arm"

"I'm Always In Love"

We've come upon the crossroads that is Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.  By the end of this album, Wilco would've been dropped and picked up by the same record label, Jay Bennett would be fired after trying to take over control of the album and they would unknowingly have their biggest selling and most critically acclaimed release to date.  Jeff Tweedy, would start being recognized as one of the great songwriters of our time.

"Jesus, Etc."

"Heavy Metal Drummer"

This completes the first part of Listening To You - Wilco.  I had to divide it up, because there's so many great and amazing songs.  Also, the eras are like two completely different bands, with Jay Bennett and without him.  Jay Bennett would release five solo albums after he left Wilco.  He would die from an accidental overdose of the painkiller, Fentanyl.  He needed a hip replacement and was self-medicating due to not being able to afford health insurance.  He was a really great musician.

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