What's a music editor in Bend to do when his favorite band won't come to his town? He goes to them of course! I'm sitting in The District Coffee House in downtown Boise as I prepare to see Wilco, "The Hardest Working Rock Band in America," tonight at the Idaho Botanical Gardens and I can't help but think I ought to share my obsession with everyone.
This will be my third time seeing them this year and I couldn't be more excited. Each time I go to one of their concerts, I'm greeted with completely different sets, new arrangements, and of course lead singer and guitarist Jeff Tweedy's witty banter.
If you're like most people, you probably fit into one of two categories.
- You've never heard of a band named Wilco
- You've heard the name Wilco but aren't sure you've ever listened to one of their songs.
Of course there may be a handful of you out there in the High Desert (though likely not many) who might consider yourselves to be a part of a smaller subsection of people who have heard the music of Wilco and think it's just okay, or don't get it, or actually don't like it at all.
And then there are people like me. People who absolutely love most everything the band turns out. Who will listen to albums over and over again, read countless interviews with the band and obsessively stalk the group's keyboard player Mikael Jorgensen
on twitter until he invites you to join him and the band at after show parties-- which would not have been possible this past February without my fellow stalker Shannon
It won't surprise some who read this to know that I think Jeff Tweedy is a genius. That to me... his lyrics are actual poetry and not at all cliche. That the experimental blend of country and alt-rock (that yes... can sometimes turn poppy) when paired with those lyrics, is like a cast that encases the parts of me that are broken and need healing. In fact, that might be the best way to explain how I feel about Wilco's music. I really can't say it any plainer than that.
When I popped into this coffee shop this morning, I saw a newsstand with the latest issue of Boise Weekly. The cover teased a story on Wilco, so I of course immediately flipped to it. Local writer Andrew Crisp actually got to interview Tweedy for the piece
. After I read it (and once I got over my jealousy), I was reminded that being a member of Wilco is almost the same thing to me as it is to Tweedy-- a way to get better-- an outlet for healing.
I remember reading Tolstoy's "What Is Art?"
when I was a senior in high school and latching on to the idea that in order for something to be considered art, the reader/listener/viewer of that art needed to realize the specific communication the artist was trying to convey. Basically, that abstract emotional responses to a piece did not mean the thing was actually art. The response needed to be equal to that intended by the artist.
Of course, there are many other theories out there about what constitutes art, but if one subscribes to Tolstoy's idea that it must communicate something specific and shared between creator and observer, then I believe the music of Tweedy and company achieve that standard. It's more for that reason, than just the fun of listening to rock-and-roll that I love their music.
Wilco will always be that band for me. A band that is fun and is healing, a band that pushes the envelope and grows as I grow. I plan to keep seeing them in concert for as long as they keep touring (I already have tickets to see them in Jacksonville Oregon later this summer too). If you find yourself interested in learning why I think all of these things about Wilco, go ahead and listen to the Spotify playlist below. Maybe you'll end up joining the increasing number of people who are also getting onboard.