Devon Edwards (@Devon2012) just picked up Wilco, which inspired me to post one more of these. Maybe two, even. It’s not like there’s a lot to write about on the football front, anyway. Slow States!
Anyway, “Pot Kettle Black” is one of the few songs from Yankee Hotel Foxtrot that I don’t have ranked higher than everyone else. Grovich has it higher than anyone, probably because it’s as close to the melodic pop of Summerteeth that YHF gets. There’s not a whole lot here that is particularly revelatory, but it somehow manages to bridge the gap between the band’s AM radio sensibility and bleepy-bloopy tendencies better than anything else. It’s also a genuinely entertaining song. Good enough.
Combining Devendra Banhart’s “new weird American” eccentricity, Flaming Lips-influenced electronic bells and whistles, and a Wilco-esque twanginess, These United States create a musical melting pot of indie pop sound.
From their Rdio profile. I don’t find them particularly Wilcoy, in large part because the lyrics are as poetic as anything anyone else has done in the last five years are so in a way that even Tweedy only occasionally even strives for.
Their first two albums, A Picture of the Three Of Us… and Crimes, are incredible, rambling stories with powerful chorus phrases and spirit. Lot’s of people get the Bob Dylan comparison, but it’s earned here. Plus they did a wicked cover of “If You Gotta Go” several years ago that was just fantastic.
Nels is really good at playing guitar. I want to start from that basic premise.
There’s a basic structure to most of his studio solos, though (this does not always apply live, as anyone who has seen the Nels Cline iteration of Wilco live can attest). He starts with an intricate countermelody, for lack of a better term, built on the chord progression of the underlying song. It builds slowly from there, until the entire thing explodes into either the melody or a new, elongated harmony built octaves above the band. It goes and goes and goes until it runs out of room, and it collapses from there.
This is one of those solos, and a completely fucking awesome one at that. The band plays along, chugging beneath Cline’s rocket blasts, just trying to keep the damn car on the road. It works, in the same way that so many Nels songs on A Ghost Is Born and the newest album work. It works because Nels works with Tweedy as well as any musician Wilco has ever had.
Jeff Tweedy spent some time producing Mavis Staples in 2009, and this song seems to make the concept incredibly less surprising. I don’t find this tune very Wilco, if I can say that, in part because of the Beach Boys thing going on that I’ve talked about before, but also because of it unapologetic optimistic take on life.
“I hadn’t heard some of those songs since I was a little girl,” she said. “I said to Tweedy, ‘Where did you get these?’ He took me back to my childhood with those songs, and I would think back to when I was walking around the house with Mom and Pops playing them. I told him, ‘Tweedy, I love those songs, but I never thought I’d be singing them again.’ ”
Without knowing for sure, Tweedy is probably well versed in that kind of music, and “Nothing’severgonnastandinmyway(again)” is the kind of song you’d sing along to with your folks.
I was the hater on this track — a 64 ranking to Patrick’s 49 and Chris’s 12, but now that we’re well past the half-way point on the average I’ll put my Summerteeth bias behind me and appreciate the growth here, taking old and new and doing something different.
There’s something about Jeff Tweedy unabashedly chasing after a woman in verse. At least once an album, something like “Someday Soon” pops up, and it’s sweet and charming and wonderfully straightforward.
At one point in “Someday Soon”, Tweedy sings, “I won’t even make a scene/It all will be just like a dream/Cash will flow down by the old mainstream/Someday soon”. It’s an innocuous lyric, except “Down By the Old Mainstream” became the title of an album by Golden Smog, a side project between Tweedy, the Jayhawks, and a couple of the guys from Soul Asylum. And on Down By the Old Mainstream, Jeff sings “Pecan Pie”. And “Pecan Pie” is perfect, in the same mold of “Someday Soon”.
A Back-of-Napkin List of Best Tweedy Songs not on a proper Wilco release: