Does that album cover look familiar?
Yep — it does.
By the first time I saw Wilco — that would be 2004, at the Three Rivers Arts Festival — Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was already a classic. Hearing the intro to “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart” live for the first time — Glenn Kotche’s dissonant bells chiming behind a feedback whine — that was the moment for me. I loved the song, I immediately found a copy of YHF — and I knew Wilco would be a big deal to me from that point on.
I’ve heard that song and others from YHF at every subsequent Wilco show I’ve attended, and I assume I’ll hear it again this fall, when the band plays Heinz Hall in November. I’ll be happy to hear the stuff from the new record, of course, and songs from everything else across Wilco’s history. But more than anything else they’ve recorded, YHF remains a touchstone for me.
So when I found all of god’s money, a tribute to YHF released over the summer, I was stoked, to put it mildly.
god’s money was assembled by Better Yet, a Chicago-based music podcast, to benefit the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. It features absolutely no one I have heard before, but several that I will track down — because they’re that good. Mother Evergreen’s “Radio Cure” is stark and then shimmering before a dark turn. Meat Wave adds angry energy to a sped-up “War on War.”
And then there is Bethlehem Steel’s version of “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart”: Fuzzy guitars drive the clean melody, with spare enhancement from electronic keys noise. Percussion is all in the guitars too. Drums are barely noticeable until the end, when the fuzznoise builds in a way that Wilco doesn’t — it’s not dissolution into dissonance, but instead a snarling crescendo that mostly exists within the structure of the song. It’s a perfect interpretation.
If you’re a Wilco fan, go get this, people. It’s available at Bandcamp for whatever you want to pay.