No embed code for the song off WTA that Kevin has rated higher than anyone else.
High - KP (60) - I’m pretty upset with myself to be honest; I have no business being the defender of anything on this waste of perfectly good polycarbonate. But here goes nothing: I like the breakdown about two minutes in, it gets me slow stomping and then quickly toe tapping through the rest of the song. It’s a nice enough tune, although I wonder if it’s artificially high for hanging out with the mostly forgettable songs on this album.
Low - PV (86) - Remember how I mentioned I never get past the ninth song on Wilco The Album? This is track eleven, and there’s nothing in it that changes my future listening habits.
82. Bull Black Nova (Wilco The Album) PV - 47 | CG - 73 | KP - 90
High - PV (47) - Ah, “Bull Black Nova,” a “Spiders (Kidsmoke)” for the dad rock phase of Wilco. It’s also Wilco’s first foray into that genre mined by luminaries like Springsteen and Dylan in the past: The murderer on the run. Tweedy’s lyrics stay away from the themes of his predecessors; in fact, they are far more indebted to Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood than any prior iteration of the wanted man song. This is a tale of paranoia and regret and complete insanity, and the driving, pulsating heartbeat of the underlying music coupled with Nels Cline’s shrieking, stabbing electric guitar (the likes of which we hadn’t heard since A Ghost Is Born) add to the palpitations and claustrophobia just as those elements added emotion and meaning to “Radio Cure” or “Less Than You Think” before. Great tone, great lyrics, and one of the few moments of great creativity apparent on WTA.
Low - KP (90) - Part of my problem with this album, other than it not pushing any interesting creative boundaries, is the guitar sounds. I just don’t like them. The underwater echo thing sounds like something I’d hear a 16-year-old kid at Guitar Center just absolutely crushing on an amp worth more than all his possessions combined.
81. Hate It Here (Sky Blue Sky) PV - 67 | CG - 86 | KP - 56
High - KP (56) - The vibe and old-school synth are all WIN here. I hate to contradict myself on the value of lyrics, but I dig the hook at the end of each verse for whatever reason. To use a phrase we’ve thrown around here — you know you’re in full on Dad Rock when you’re singing about clean sheets. You won’t get Slow States Points for that kind of thing.
Low - CG (86) - I’m not the kind of music fan that needs or wants to carefully unpack vague lyrics, but come on. Even Rebecca Black thinks this is a bit simplistic. I do have the sudden urge to clean something, though.
80. I Thought I Held You (A.M.) PV - 81 | CG - 63 | KP - 63
Nothing from YouTube here. Apparently this song never actually existed.
High - KP (63) - Look at that, a tie. This is actually one of my least favorite A.M. tracks, but it’s got that classic Wilco draw-out, which I always appreciate even (occasionally) on Wilco (The Album) songs. Also, another top five Tweedy lyric: “You’re the reason I’ve run out / Run out of metaphors”.
High - CG (63) - Two things totally redeem this for me: the beautifully arranged pedal steel and the drawn out lull before the chorus kicks back in at around 2:20. Nicely teased.
Low - PV (81) - “You’re like a moon that’s full/Across a sea of foam/In the sky/You are burning.” Those are the only lyrics in the first minute of the song, a minute that has no particularly interesting moments to make up the time. I know the entire premise of the song is that he’s at a loss for words, but come on, Jeff. You have to have something there to fill in the dead space. I agree with Chris on the pedal steel, but it’s not redeeming in and of itself.
79. Wilco the Song (Wilco The Album) PV - 25 | CG - 88 | KP - 93
High - PV (25) - I have this ranked this high for one reason and only one reason. In the summer of 2000, I got a job as an accountant for a small department at the University of Iowa with my friend Ted. We spent at least 40% of that summer listening to the local classic rock station and looking for what we called “The Holy Trinity”: Songs with identical names to both their artists and albums. We came up with “Bad Company” from the Bad Company album Bad Company and “Living in a Box” from the Living in a Box album Living in a Box.Technically, there were two songs named “Living in a Box” on that record, because those guys were really into living in a box. A little while later, Chris Rock and Anthony Hopkins made the movie Bad Company, but oddly enough the song “Bad Company” wasn’t on the soundtrack, thereby eliminating the one and only chance we’ve had of a quadrupleponymy. The world continued to spin on its axis.
Anyway, depending on how you treat the parentheticals, this is the third song in The Holy Trinity. Three threes. The circle is complete, and The Rapture is coming with it. The song itself is passable.
Mid - CG (88) - This is a shark-jumping moment for my favorite band. That’s how much I hate it. What made this a good idea? Why did nobody step in and prevent it from happening? “Do you dabble in depression?” Well, I do now.
Low - KP (93) - Oh look, the worst song Wilco ever recorded! I don’t understand how Tweedy is even able to sing this song with a straight face. I mean look what he’s doing with it on live TV. This song should be put into a rocket and fired at the sun. Get on it, science.
78. Red Eyed and Blue (Being There) PV - 69 | CG - 65 | KP - 72
High - CG (65) - A rare tight grouping from us, I see. I like this for a number of reasons — the echoing piano and the big transition halfway through that feels like a tempo change, but isn’t. Always liked this one from a former hack musician’s perspective, too.
Low - KP (72) - I might have underrated this one. I like the vulnerable piano at the beginning, straightforward lyrics, and alcohol involvement. Screwing around on YouTube, I think this song really comes through live as well, in a way the sterile studio kind of crushes.
High - KP (51) - I was probably too fair with this one, it was clearly written drunk on the tour bus, which isn’t bad in and of itself, but it slurs a little too long. Feels honest, though.
Low - CG (90) - Surprised I disliked this the most, as the resident Summerteeth advocate. This has always felt disjointed from the beginning, and plays against the band’s strengths in a way rarely seen in their other songs. This would be a gorgeous Beach Boys song, however.
76. Box Full of Letters (A.M.) PV - 90 | CG - 75 | KP - 33
High - KP (33) - This song benefits in a big way from its placement on A.M. — third, the most versatile spot in a lineup, cool and strong and right after “Casino Queen”. I’m not even sure what he means by writing his mind, but it sounds interesting.
Mid - CG (75) - A simple, benign pop-rocker. Hard for me to get worked up in either direction.
Low - PV (90) - They should have taken this song, removed Tweedy, replaced him with Del Amitri, and made the most queefcore song ever produced. They would have sold a lot more units of A.M. and the record company probably wouldn’t have given them any shit for Yankee Hotel Foxtrot all those years later. Jay Bennett never would have quit the band, they never would have made that movie that makes Tweedy out to be Mr. McMahon, and Wilco would pretty much be The Beatles Jr.
Yes, “Box Full of Letters” ruined the whole goddamned world.
75. Please Be Patient With Me (Sky Blue Sky) PV - 43 | CG - 69 | KP - 83
High - PV (43) - There’s nothing complicated about it, but this is a wonderful and gorgeous little song. Plaintive, apologetic, and utterly honest in its depiction of “that” conversation, where he can’t really come out and say what the problem is without scaring the bejeezus out of his significant other and is just begging for a little time by dancing around the 500 pound elephant.
Low - KP (83) - Patrick always makes me feel like I’m not appreciating things in the right light, but frankly it reminds me of The White Stripes’ “We’re Going To Be Friends” in tone, only way worse.
High - KP (45) - Acoustic guitar intro, that’s one way to get my attention. It also captures this kind of strange personal devotion in a lyric that is about 1,000% more substantive than anything else I hear on the album. Patrick does nail the pretty simple formula, of course, but it resolves nicely.
Mid - CG (55) - I rather enjoy this from an instrumental perspective. I like the hammer-on acoustic guitar at the beginning, the in-and-out organ, and the layered guitars. It has a certain determination mostly lacking elsewhere on the album. But Patrick hates the shit out of it, which intrigues me.
Low - PV (92) - The Twitter reaction to the announcement of this project stunned me, mostly because some people I really like had this in their top fives. I no longer like any of those people. Or should I say “I no, I no, I no, I no longer like, ger like, ger like, ger like any of those pee, those pee, those pee, those people.”
Here’s the thing with “I’ll Fight”: Since Bennett left during YHF, all serious creative control has been with Tweedy. Sure, the musicians around him are incredibly talented and fill the gaps, but the drive of the entire project is Tweedy’s alone. And the most consistent and truthful knock on post-Bennett Wilco is that Tweedy’s artistic drive, when unopposed, lasted for about an album and half. So now you’re Jeff Tweedy, and you are angry about people saying that you’re over the hill and making dad rock, so you release your new album, and we get a couple of early flashes of the good stuff, and then the fade begins, and it’s about eight songs into the album, and you’ve done AM Gold like “You and I” and “You Never Know” and this thing, just like your last album, is fading to the finish and needs a kick in the pants. Your reaction? Sing-song and acoustic guitar, of course!
I think I hate this song so much because it was the first time I’d heard something from Wilco, my favorite band basically to that point, and said, “Oh, fuck this boring shit, I’m not a goddamn geriatric yet.” I get enough of this watching Iowa play football. I don’t need it from my music. I don’t even necessarily disagree with Chris’s description of the instrumentation, but you have the abilities of Nels Cline relegated to filler chords and Glenn Kotche turned into the little drummer boy between lyrics about Vietnam and Jesus or something. These are incredible talents wasting away so that we can hear…what, a bit of organ and Jeff’s acoustic strum again? This song — and this album, and this band since about halfway through Sky Blue Sky — rarely escapes from second gear for fear of actually doing something interesting. Contrast it with “Muzzle of Bees,” another simple acoustic diddy, but one where Cline and Kotche were freed up to do something interesting within the song’s context. The message I would send to Tweedy, I guess, is that if you aren’t going to do anything with the space, for Christ’s sake let someone else try. You used to do that. You can do it again.