Some albums are of a time and some describe a time. Everyone knows the story of Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, if you don’t you can find it here:
2001 was a tough year personally for many reasons, in November I went to see Wilco at the Roseland Theater when they played most of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot on tour. I had whiskey and beer spilled on me, drank too much and witnessed something incredible. I had never heard so many strange blips, interference, static in a coherent manner since Julian Cope at the Royal Court in Liverpool. I had also never seen a front man so insanely possessed by the songs he was singing.
I remember being blown away, the aging hippy Dan I went with had not been to a gig since seeing the Band and Dylan in ’74. He was blown away as well. He never went to another gig but never seemed particularly phased by that. He died last year watching the sunset from an Indian hillside listening to Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, at least that was what was in the CD player when they found him in his lawn chair. I like to think it was playing.
Since I got my new record deck I have been wanting to hear this album on vinyl, for nostalgia, to wallow in a moment or maybe just because it is an album on the list that everyone should hear.
Of course it is a serious album covering all sorts of heavy subjects even heavy metal drummers. Apart from that it is an album of melodies and noise with all sorts of cool musical references, whether it is Krautrock drumming or the slightly breathless Lennonesque vocals and ambient Eno noises.
Jeff Tweedy may have written better songs since, performed better shows but I don’t think he has released such a complete statement since.
The end of my recollection is summer 2002 after buying the CD, barreling north on I205 in an overheating rusting ’85 F150 pickup and realizing I was living in America. The geeky English guy trying to find out how Liverpool was doing in the Premiere League before the all pervasiveness of the internet, trying to find a way to buy Fairport Convention albums without going bust listening, to a song about bad ’80’s heavy metal drummers and realizing it may not get much better than this.
Anyway how does the vinyl sound? Just perfect is the answer as I keep my wife awake with the strange bleeps, whistles and static.