Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

Subject: New Wilco!!

Dude — I know, I know, you’ve prolly heard all about it a million times. But the new Wilco’s really, really good. I can’t stop listening to it (even though I downloaded the songs months ago and already knew most of them by heart). It’s so unlike anything else I’ve heard recently. I mean, Summerteeth was good, but it’s pretty clear now that it was a work in progress, an experiment for Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Tweedy’s barely singing in the proper sense on all these songs, but he’s expressing so much more with one simple exhalation than that hyperdramatic rawker Ryan Adams could on a whole double record (see also: Gold). I don’t know, what was that that Carleton said? — Ryan Adams and Jay Farrar are trying to ape Woody Guthrie, Jeff Tweedy’s channeling him. Something like that.

Anyhoo, I gotta go. Hit me back when you get a chance.



Subject: RE: New Wilco!!

What are you smoking? This is such a setup! Hype plus critical anticipation plus media-ready backstory equals cutting-edge Americana? The cutting edge of NPR, maybe. Shit. I mean, “Heavy Metal Drummer” is a great choon. I’ll give you “Reservations,” because, sometimes I’m as sentimental as the next guy — but if you tell anyone I’ll kick your ass. ;-)

Give me “Being There.” Yeah, Summerteeth sounds bombastic in retrospect, but “War on War”?! Zen koans/mantras-as-Americana sounds like methinks someone tryeth too hard.

The sounds are nice, though. I figured O’Rourke woulda goofed it up, but according to the bible-thick ream of feature stories I’ve already read about this record, he actually made it clearer. Don’t get all in a hyperactive music-critic huff just cuz the old farts at Rolling Stone and the indie kids are all over this record like Uma Thurman at an Ethan Hawke convention! Simmer, simmer.



Subject: RE: RE: New Wilco!!

You cynical shit. You are absolutely 100 percent jaded. You could play these songs on acoustic guitar and they’d be absolute classics. That they’re presented in the context of a more atmospheric, dreamlike whole is actually a plus. So what if the rock press is on its knees for Tweedy and Company? I can think of a lot worse. I mean, have you heard the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club record? Talk about derivative. And don’t even get me started on the larger barrel of tripe blasting from the speakers of too many Urban Outfitters speakers. Besides, I haven’t heard a cut off this record on my local NPR station (then again, they’re too busy rediscovering Tom Waits). C’est le guerre. Tweedy’s a genius and you (and Greil Marcus — so you’re in “good” company) can’t stand to admit that he’s tapped into something — his own unconscious, America (not the band America, sicko), collective yearning, whatever. I mean, “Ashes of American Flags” was written months before terrorists attacked us, but it resonates with that sadness. From “Jesus Etc.”: “Tall buildings shake/voices escape/singing sad, sad songs”?!?!?!?! If it’s not prescient, then its certainly a call to arms for the “Dilbert Nation”!

Awww, look at me — I’m talking to a brick wall. Here’s to shutting up and listening.


Subject: RE: RE: RE: New Wilco!!

You are beyond help. Next thing I know, you’re going to tell me you like “jazz.” Turn in your D.R.E.A.D. card. Why don’t you take another Serious pill and call me in the morning. Everything in moderation. It is just rock ’n’ roll. I’ll give you that — but there ain’t a whole lot new-sounding in rock and this does sound really damn good. And I suppose I can get used to the fact that the four people in front of me at the coffeehouse (at 2 in the afternoon) will all know this record note-for-note. Even if I am just another brick (in the) wall.

Tweedy-lee-dee, indeed, mofo.

M. Jenkins

E-mail Chris Handyside at [email protected].

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