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.
In the late 70s, my musical world view was informed pretty much exclusively by Q-FM-96 in Columbus, and was therefore a bit limited. Rock ‘n’ roll — and the harder the better — was what I wanted to hear; anything else (but especially disco) sucked. I clung to those opinions into the early 80s, when a couple things happened.
First, I found the Grateful Dead, which eventually opened a ton of musical doors for me. And second — I heard, and loved, The Cars. They were a bit poppy, sure, but there was enough new wave edginess to keep me from dismissing them as Top 40 crap. And eventually they served as my stepping stone to Talking Heads, REM, The Pretenders and a bunch more.
Ric Ocasek was found dead today, in his apartment in NYC. And when I consider context — what he and his band meant to me at 15ish years old — this is a pretty big deal. I said previously that the Dead opened doors for me, to roots music and psychedelia; Ocasek and The Cars did the same, but for the stuff that was new and interesting right then … and for that, I couldn’t be more grateful.
It’s hard to know for certain, but I’d love to think that this, specifically Trey’s admonition at the end of “Roses Are Free” at our excellent Blossom show last summer…
… had something to do with this:
And maybe if we could get a full tour out of these guys, I could fulfill a dream, to hear Ween play this:
Whaddaya say, guys?
This is awesome on all kinds of levels, but I was especially excited to see some tight shots of The Beam, the big thing with the piano strings that Mickey’s beating on. Those vibrations, when amplified through a concert PA system in an arena like, say, Richfield Coliseum, could rattle your sternum. If I were to ever assemble a bucket list, playing a Beam at high volume would be near the top.
Looking forward to a taste of the juice of the barley after work tonight.
Getting our Crappy selves to Chicago for the Dead/Trey shows isn’t happening, but we’re looking at a pretty good musical run in the coming weeks nonetheless. And that’s a good thing — I know I can really use the break.
What’s coming? I’m so glad you asked:
Sunday: moe., at Mr. Small’s. They’re pretty much an annual Pittsburgh thing for us. A 15-minute “Plane Crash” would be awesome.
The week after that: The Traveling McCourys and Bill Nershi of String Cheese Incident, at the Rex Theater. A badly needed bluegrass fix for me.
The week after that: The Decemberists, at the Benedum Center. I wouldn’t be terribly disappointed if they don’t play “Row Jimmy” for Mrs. Crappy’s birthday show — but I’d be awfully happy if they did.
A few weeks after that: Skinny Moo, at the Greenville Inn in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. One word: Legendary.
After that? No specific plans, but you can bet there will be at least a few Three Rivers Arts Festival shows. The Umphrey’s McGee/Widespread Panic show at Stage AE looks interesting. And there was something about the Rolling Stones playing Sticky Fingers in its entirety? Hmmm.