A Word About Wilco

I think it says a lot about the music industry to have Wilco play Saturday Night Live…and apparently from plenty of Google searches landing here, there’s some hunger for more info about them. Why Wikipedia isn’t your first search for info about a band, is beyond me, but I’ll indulge you. I knew of Wilco because I knew of Uncle Tupelo, but didn’t really give them much of a chance to enter my collective playlist until the summer of 2001. I spent 3 days in North Carolina, and Virginia, with a quick trip to Brooklyn and Boston and spent much of that time listening to Wilco’s Being There which at the time was 5 years old (Disc One if you’re keeping score at home). In an age when you might find it hard to name 5 successful American rock bands (I challenge you to list your five in the comments), Wilco consistently proves that Rock and Roll can live when it’s chasing the edge of innovation. If you’ve been holding out it’s time you give this Grammy winning band a shot.

(Photo from 2005 Austin City Limits Festival)

Clips of the two songs Wilco performed have been uploaded and taken down from YouTube several times over the last few days, so if you’re interested in seeing their performances of “Walken” and “Hate It Here” but I’ve heard some good things about Hulu.

A post addressing the traffic to this blog looking for Wilco info wouldn’t be complete without some recommendations. In the days of digital downloads, it makes more sense to list some tracks that will give you a more complete picture of Wilco. Here are my 20 favorite Wilco tracks, not in order of preference, but rather how they would sound good on a CD. Paring down to 20 was tough and even as I dropped them into a playlist I found myself resigning to the fact that I’m leaving out a lot of great music. So check these tracks out and don’t be afraid of anything in the Wilco catalog.

A disclaimer: I think Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is to Wilco what OK Computer is to Radiohead, what Joshua Tree/Achtung Baby is to U2, what Vitalogy is to Pearl Jam, what August and Everything After is to Counting Crows…and that bias may show through in my track selection.

1. “I’m the Man Who Loves You” from Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

“All I can be is a busy sea of
spinning wheels and hands that feel
for stones to throw and feet that run but
they come back home, make no difference
ever known, make no difference
ever known to me”

2. “ELT” from Summerteeth
3. “At Least That’s What You Said” (Live) from Kicking Television [Nels Cline makes all the difference, though the studio version holds its own]
4. “Hotel Arizona” from Being There
5. “Ashes of American Flags” from Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

“All my lies are always wishes”

6. “Hummingbird” from A Ghost is Born

“Remember to remember me
Standing still in your past
Floating fast like a hummingbird”

7. “I Got You(At the End of a Century)” from Being There
Gotta love the tambourine…
8. “Impossible Germany” from Sky Blue Sky
9. “Radio Cure” from Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
10. “The Late Greats” from A Ghost is Born
11. “Far, Far Away” from Being There
12. “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart” from Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
13. “Monday” from Being There
14. “Passenger Side” from A.M.

“Hey, wake up, your eyes weren’t open wide
For the last couple of miles you’ve been swerving from side to side
You’re gonna make me spill my beer,
If you don’t learn how to steer
Passenger side, passenger side,
I don’t like riding on the passenger side”

15. “Via Chicago” from Summerteeth
16. “Kingpin” from Being There
17. “Jesus, etc.” from Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
18. “The Lonely 1” from Being There
19. “Hell is Chrome” from A Ghost is Born
20. “Misunderstood” from Being There

“There’s a fortune inside your head
All you touch turns to lead
You think you might just crawl back in bed
The fortune inside your head”

[Bonus Hidden Track] “Poor Places” from Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

Vampire Weekend are scheduled to play SNL March 8, which is an even further trip away from the mainstream.

And by the way I can’t figure out why, but I giggled the whole way through the SNL Digital Short with Ellen Page waking up from dreams. Don’t know why, but it was hilarious.

Stock up on Wilco at iTunes or Amazonmp3.com

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