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Jeff Tweedy – Warm & Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back): A Memoir of Recording and Discording with Wilco, Etc

December 11, 2018

I have been in a Jeff Tweedy state of mind lately:

  • I saw his solo show back in September
  • I have been listening to a lot of Wilco over the last year after seeing them live a year ago
  • I read his memoir Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back): A Memoir of Recording and Discording with Wilco, Etc.
  • I am now enjoying his new solo release Warm.

Unlike last year’s Together at Last, which was a sparse live acoustic reimagining of his catalog, this is a full arranged set of new songs. Tweedy plays all the instruments with the exception of drums (although he even plays those on one cut). Tweedy is in full studio rat mode here with lots of cool sounds that ultimately serve the songs and are not gimmicks. This album fits in the top tier of Tweedy’s catalog (solo, Wilco, Uncle Tupelo and various side projects).

One of the things I learned about Jeff Tweedy in his book is that he loves The Monkeys as much a The Clash, space rock like Hawkwind and train engine sound effect records. That explains a lot. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was born of that aesthetic and Warm adds to that legacy.

I wondered why a guy like Tweedy, who is the clear leader of HIS band Wilco, feels compelled to have a solo album. Especially a solo album that does not stray far from the Wilco formula. His memoir gave some insight when he talked about “the band” Tweedy’s Sukierae:

I loved making music with the rest of Wilco, but I wanted to see if I could do it alone. I’m on a need to know basis with any instrument besides the bass and guitar. But it makes me think about songwriting in a different way when I can’t just say, “Hey, Pat, do you have a piano part to put here?” Or, “Okay, Nels, this is the part of the song where your tear a hole in the space-time continuum.” My limitations as a musician make my songs feel different than when I’m relying on other people to go ahead and be great all over them.

That makes sense to me. Tweedy proves that he can be great on his own. It also makes sense why he has attracted some amazing musicians to serve his cause in Wilco.

I heard most of the songs on Warm when I saw Tweedy’s solo show in September and they engaged me right then and there. Now that the LP is released and I have been able to marinate in them I like them even more. If you like Wilco you are going to like this album.

A great example of Tweedy’s genius is “Let’s Go Rain” which I take to mean that society is due for a biblical cleansing. Tweedy juxtapositions a children’s song with a Beatlesque bridge and the end result is sublime. He did a great live version on Colbert:

https://youtu.be/C7y6DVzv3uQ

The memoir is revealing, honest and entertaining. I especially appreciate that Tweedy spends plenty of time telling us who he is (warts and all) and he explains how he creates his art. I am came away from reading this with the belief that I could sit and have an enjoyable conversation with Tweedy over a cup of coffee on a Saturday morning. He seems like a regular guy who just happens to be one of the greatest singer/songwriters of his generation.

If you are a Wilco fan, find a easy chair, drop the needle on Warm and absorb yourself in the memoir. You will be satisfied.

https://open.spotify.com/album/2XTPulCL6EUx1thyJPnlmj?si=E-gscx1gQK6FXofjOq0sjg

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4 Comments
  1. Uncle Tupolo was a band that grabbed me when they first came around. I indulged heavy with them and the two off shoots. I’ve slowed down with keeping current buy I know when I get the urge there will be lots of good music and treats waiting for me. You always keep good music in front of me.

    • I am more of a Wilco guy than Son Volt. But no need to take sides – there is rich material in both rivers.

      • There was so much I liked about UT. Breath of fresh air for me when they came around. Plus I have always been a fan a multi vocalists in a group like in The Band. They both make quality music that moves me. Like so many musicians I like they are so prolific it’s hard to keep up with. Tweedy is a machine. You know what you’re gong to get and you know it will be good.

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