Saturday, November 14, 2009


Longtime readers of No Expiration know that I'm generally cynical about the artists that the media and indie bloggers go crazy over. It's sometimes like England's NME: the band is exciting for a moment, but people move on to the next thing so quickly. But when it comes to Wilco, grow me an beard, put me in skinny jeans and move me to Brooklyn! Ha ha, just kidding, don't, I'm cool in the suburbs.  But really, Wilco should be considered a "classic rock" band in the sense that they are a rock band with a pretty incredible catalog of albums (which is still growing, the band probably aren't even at their halfway point yet).

And so, I have to give it up to Jeff Tweedy (the band's leader), he is definitely one of the artists of the decade. Start with their 2002 classic, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and the accompanying documentary, I Am Trying To Break Your Heart. The album was, in some ways, like Aimee Mann's Bachelor No. 2 in that it was famously rejected by a major label, and is recognized by almost anyone with any taste as a classic. It became the kind of thing where a vote for the album = your vote against the major label system. I'm sure lots of records have been rejected with great reasons, but these are two high profile blunders.

Tweedy really stuck by his artistic guns, and risked alienating some of his older fans, who liked Wilco (and his pre-Wilco band, Uncle Tupelo)'s so-called "alt-country" sound. He really created something that sounded original.  I shouldn't make it sound like his decade is just about Yankee Hotel Foxtrot: the followup, 2004's A Ghost Is Born is also amazing, as is the live album from that tour, Kicking Television: Live In Chicago. And I can't forget 2000's collaboration with Billy Bragg, Mermaid Avenue Vol. 2. Admittedly, I'm not as big of a fan of 2007's Sky Blue Sky or this year's Wilco (The Album).

While Wilco is a band, it really is largely about Tweedy and whoever he wants to work with. Plus, this decade he's also worked with his side projects Golden Smog and Loose Fur, and done solo tours. He also contributed to Neil Finn's new album.

I got to interview Tweedy when YHF first came out, and it was interesting, there was a lot of electricity around the band because everyone knew something big was happening with them. But something seemed ... a bit "off." I later found that he was addicted to painkillers. I was surprised, he didn't seem like that kind of guy.  Some rock stars have the type of personality that seems like they'd be prone to addiction problems. But I guess it can happen to anyone. Anyway, I got to interview him again when AGIB came out, and he seemed like a totally different guy. So, it's nice that in the midst of releasing all of this great music, he was also able to conquer his personal demons.  Anyway, Tweedy is definitely one of my "Artists of the '00s," and I wouldn't be surprised if he becomes one of my "Artists of the '10s" also.

More Best Of The '00s: Bob Dylan
Willie Nelson
Aimee Mann

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