Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Shouldn't Be Ashamed

First, I put up Gibson's list of essential Alt-Country, then opined that I prefer A.M. to Being There.

Then Jack Pribek (who happens to know people who were involved in Being There) posted a link to some Quicktime (I hate Quicktime) of Wilco's three-night stand in St. Louis. He commented:
I’ve had some recent discussions with some Wilco fans and a lot of them are more enamored of the earlier work. Whereas, I think they sound like a band that is currently at the peak of their form.
Really, I was just looking for some Alt-Twang that isn't old enough to go to Math Camp with my middle child! I have all the Wilco except Sky Blue Sky! I'm a good fan! Really!

But I kinda took that up as a challenge. So, today, instead of setting my playlist to just play things that Windows Media Player hasn't played for me (which should take several weeks), I queued up Wilco. I'm still early into A.M., my avowed favored territory. But I'll go through it all today, commenting as I go. (You're welcome to take the journey with me!)

In part because I very much doubt that the Quicktime stream will flow through the firewall at work. Nope.


Dave Jacoby said...

Not that either Jeff Tweedy or Brad Paisley would accept the comparison, but "I Thought I Held You" reminds me of "Me Neither". Or maybe the other way around. For both, the POV character runs out of things to say and lets the music talk before the end of the song. More with Brad. But one of my favorite lines ever is the end of the last verse:

I'm like a songwriter
You're the reason I've run out
Run out of metaphors

Dave Jacoby said...

Part of the reason Alt-Country never made it big, I think, is that they naturally lean towards Rock and not Country. I don't think there's a Nashville act that could make anything on Hollywood Town Hall sound like their own.

I would pay good money to see Marty Stuart sing "It's Just That Simple". And he could do it. A.M. has plenty of tracks that lean toward Country, in that "Sounds like 1963, but to me, it sounds like Heaven" kind of way.

Dave Jacoby said...

"Passenger Side" is not a perfect country and western song, because the people in it are pathetic. Country-song drinking is usually more triumphant.

"Dash 7" I guess points toward thecoming direction of Wilco, but it still makes me miss the steel guitar.

Dave Jacoby said...

If you had asked me in 1996 what my fave Wilco song was, I think I would've said "Blue Eyed Soul", but not today. In fact, I'm not sure by the song he knows what "Blue Eyed Soul" actually is.

"Too Far Apart": "Isn't really punk rock like a party line?" No, it's like a folk song, because everybody knows the words.

Dave Jacoby said...

On to Being There. If you wanted to be sure that Ronnie Milsap will never record your song, fill it with feedback and pick scraping, like "Misunderstood".

I read a book recently on the recording of Exile on Main Street that I thought sucked the big fat hairy one because instead of getting in and dealing with the personalities, the author stood back and paraphrased Stones lyrics. Can I comment on this stuff without referring back to my favorite pop references?

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Dave Jacoby said...

"Monday" I love the keyboard sound. Sounds like something Stevie Wonder would pull out. All things told, I think it's the closest that Wilco gets to the Rolling Stones.

Which should make me thing "Outtasite (Outta Mind)" is closer to the Beatles. But it's not. But it's like something.

Being There is growing on me.

Dave Jacoby said...

When I see the title "Hotel Arizona", I think I should see it connected to the country-rock road to Hell of the Eagles' "Hotel California", but I don't. I think of America's Sweethearts. They go to a desert resort to run an interview train with the movie press before the premiere of their movie.

I've been trying to think of other singers doing some of these songs. "Say You Miss Me" is harmonically too far afield from George Strait's normal songs, but I think topically it fits right in, and without much of a key change. And Rod Stewart could sing it. I'd hate to hear it, but he could sing the heck out of it.

Dave Jacoby said...

"Someone Else's Song" sounds like the reverse of the "Long Time Gone" and "Murder on Music Row" complaints on Country — Today's country ain't got no soul.

But "Acuff Rose" and their cover of "Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way?" argue the reverse, though.

"Kingpin" has the return of that funky keyboard sound. Great groove.

Dave Jacoby said...

"She's A Jar" always disturbed me. Looking on songmeanings.com, I see some people see it as a drug reference, but I always took it as violence.

Dave Jacoby said...

I told Pribek that what I had previously saw as a Sonic Youth influence reminded me much more, with more listening and more thought, of post-Floyd Syd Barrett. "Via Chicago" is the one that hits. Musically it's well-put-together, but I can't get past the first line.

I get creepy stalker songs like "Alison" by Elvis Costello, but I can distance myself because I don't feel that anger. Maybe he's searching for a home via Chicago because she, like Lucinda Williams, changed the lock on the front door, the train and the track and the name of this town. I think it would be safer to do that.

Dave Jacoby said...

Part of "When You Wake Up Feeling Old" sounds like the 1930s. Part of it sounds like the 1960s.

I like the guitar part on "Summer Teeth". It's like something Steve Cropper or Cornell Dupree or maybe Don Rich. Great slinky Tele stuff.

Dave Jacoby said...

"War on War" reminds me a little of ELP's "Lucky Man", where there's this acoustic guitar and such and then the keyboards come and plop on it like elephant dung. Except they don't quite do that. They are largely more sound than music, but they sound like someone listening to the music when he plays. Unlike Emerson.

"Jesus, Etc." sounds like something. The strings and the electric piano sound very 70s soul.

Dave Jacoby said...

"Heavy Metal Drummer" is a great pop song.

"Poor Places" is the song that can take the expansion they give it. The repeated words that give the album a name is from the Conet Project . Basically, governments communicate to their spies via one-way communication in these radio signals.

Dave Jacoby said...

"At Least That's What You Said" has a good dollop of Crazy Horse in it. Very Neil Young, jiggling the Bigsby to make it cry. Except it's likely Nels Cline and his Jazzmaster, so it doesn't sound as much like a guitar crying in fear. Just a little.

And there goes the feedback. But Crazy Horse never were that neat.

Dave Jacoby said...

"Spiders (Kidsmoke)" snuck up on me while I was thinking of other things. I will have to queue it up for my drive home. Good stuff. Nels (I think it's Nels) is more like a bee imitating Roger McGuinn's opening to "Eight Miles High", which is of course him imitating Coltrane. "India", I think. Nels did an album of Coltrane's work, so he's been there before.

Dave Jacoby said...

"Muzzle of Bees". I really dig Nels Cline.

Dave Jacoby said...

Just checked the credits.

No Nels on A Ghost Is Born. Duh to me.

I ripped everything. I should've brought the CDs in.

Dave Jacoby said...

"Handshake Drugs" sounds like a low-key "Heavy Metal Drummer".

Dave Jacoby said...

Like the hammered dulcimer (or is that harpsichord?) on "Company In My Back".

This time I checked credits. Hammered dulcimer.

Bet that's something that doesn't quite work on the road.

But wait. If John Stirratt was the guy fired in I'm Trying To Break Your Heart, during the mixing of and touring for Foxtrot what's he doing all over Ghost?

Dave Jacoby said...

3 minutes into "Less Than You Think", a guided tour into Jeff Tweedy's migraines.

Hey, I've listened to Metal Machine Music. Multiple times. Willingly. This should be OK.

Dave Jacoby said...

But I doubt I'll go through this again any time soon.

Dave Jacoby said...

A blog gave me "Impossible Germany", so I have something Sky Blue Sky. So, I started at about 8:30 am and it's now about 2:30 pm.

And I hope that's Nels playing guitar. I've falsely ascribed too much good playing to him today to not actually have his music in my head.