Being Here

Our first real-time post. Jeff and Alex are at a Ranh Ranh summit in Manhattan and found some time to slip away from the speeches and breakout sessions to quickly blog some thoughts on Wilco's LP Being There....we enter this conversation already in progress.

Alex:Misunderstood. What an imposing beginning. And then the noise falls away and it's sparseness. The first few months I owned this record, I was very attracted to how many holes there seemed to be on the soundstage. A lot of these songs sounded unfinished to me -- there are actually a lot of instruments on the album, but many of the songs still sounded underarranged. In a good way. I guess lyrically sometimes they sounded underwritten as well -- there are some serious throwaway lines on this album. Anyway -- Misunderstood...not one of my favorites. Although it's grown on me over the years.

Jeff: As I told Alex, this was my first favorite on this album. It reminds me of a great Rolling Stones epic. I especially love his octave leap for the last verse. When I saw them live this part gave goose bumps all over me arms!! Plus he said "Thank You" about 37 times, which was highly unusual to say the least.
This song foreshadows Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.

Alex: True, about YHF. In fact, one of the things about YHF that worked so well is that he doesn't sing in his "high" voice until 3 or 4 songs into that record. OK, so Far Far Away...we're heading into a great stretch here. Stones = looseness, I think, and (deceptive) looseness is the essence of this record...the unfinishedness, the audio verite approach, the occasional noodling...it all conjures a relaxed effortless feel that is probably actually very carefully created and sculpted. Lazy drumming on this song, great little electric piano, casual vocal, hazy pedal steel..."on the dark side of the room"...you can live in this song.

Jeff: This song also reminds me of various Classic Rock songs. But they never seems like they are copying anything. It feels like Jeff (Tweedy) is tapped into the Zeitgeist. The influences and creation of newness are perfectly intertwined.

Monday super fun sing along. Michael, Bekkah and I once listened to 8 live versions of this in row. Who doesn't love this song?! (hand claps too!)

Alex : Choo Choo Charlie was a pretty good band.

Jeff: Outtasite (Outta Mind) - I think that Jeff T. must have got the lyric first for the song. The rhythm (of the words) is a beautiful song unto itself.

Well I know we don't talk much
But you're such a good talker
Ooh, whoa

Well I know that we should take a walk
But you're such a fast walker, oh-whoa
Well alright

I know where I'll be tonight, well alright
Outta mind outta sight

Well okay
I know you don't love me
But you'll still be thinking of me, oh-whoa

Well alright
I know you probably hate me
Well that's okay with me
Well alright

I know where I'll be tonight
Well alright
Outta mind outta sight
Outta mind outta sight

You don't see me now
You don't want to anyhow

Well look out
Here I come again
And I'm bringing my friends

I said, look out
Here I come again
And I'm bringing my friends
Okay, alright, okay, alright

I know where I'll be tonight
Well alright

Well outta mind outta sight
Outta mind outta sight
Outta mind outta sight

Well alright
That's quite alright
I know you don't love me
I know you don't love me anymore, alright
I know you

Alex: One of the most jubilant fuck you's ever. "I know you probably hate me...that's OK with me...OKALRIGHTOKALRIIIIGHT." Always so much fun in concert. I also love the little Byrds guitar figure during the second "Look out!" portion. The drumming absolutely propels this song (we miss you on these ones, Ken Coomer). I also need to point out at this juncture that this song rips off the theme to Sesame Street (even more obvious in the version on Disc 2).

Jeff: Forget The Flowers - As we are blogging in real time, I will just admit that I have never paid much attention to this song. But that is OK. Maybe in in 6 years this will be my favorite from Disc 1.

Alex: Another performance at odds with the lyrics...so jaunty. Love the subtle "ooh" backing vocals under the verse near the end. Great, stuttering banjo. A good example of a song that sounds underproduced but isn't.

Jeff: Red Eyed and Blue. I think they got these chords from "The Rain Song" by Led Zepplin!!

Alex: [Whistles]] Drugs. We can't afford. Not to take. A master of phrasing.

Jeff: Why did we have so much more to say about "Misunderstood"?

Alex: Youthful enthusiasm. OK, I Got You. Another live favorite. One of my favorite lyrics ever is "It's the end of the century..." It really is a mood elevator. Example of throwaway line "Your tarzan and your friend Janine" -- is that really what he says there?

Jeff: This is one of their encore numbers. I believe there is a certain subset of Wilco songs that are the "encore material". They are distinctly different from the rest of ouevre. I think that Jeff T. must set out to write these separately so they will have some Ranh Ranh in their shows. If left to his own devices he would rather just wallow around in the mucky muck, I think!!

Alex: That "end of the century" line sounded better in 1999, though I have to say. In fact, the whole band did -- no offense to the Cline era, but Bennett/Coomer was a more dynamic, loose rock and roll band. As great as they still are live, they are not loose.

What's the World Got In Store -- great pop bridge, great organ solo, nice use of banjo in the pop context.

Jeff: This song foreshadows "Summerteeth"

Alex: Aye...always loved the last few bars...the organ and the banjo and Coomer's lazy drumming. Hotel Arizona. Never really liked this song -- found the verses a little boring melodically, although seeing them do it live quite a bit gave me an appreciation for the chorus, particularly what John Stirrat (Bass Player People!) is doing. Also it does build nicely throughout the song -- the drumming gets crisper and sterner, driving harder. So I like it now, but it will never be one of my favorites.

Jeff: Haven't you guys seen Gene Simmons Rock School? The drummer is the most important part of a band. Always make sure the drummer is most musical. Coomer is so money! I love how distinct all of his cymbals sound on the entire disc. And he does get a little bit experimental too all you Kotche lovers out there. But they both have their merits. If, however you believe in the Karmic Wheel then you have to think that the firing of Coomer was the beginning of a dark period for Jeff T and his company.

Say You Miss Me
This has been the most sung song (not very blue) at our house the past 2 months. This is pure perfection on every level. I suspect that Jay Bennett is responsible for the uber-hook in the chorus "Whoo oo-ooo"
The funny thing is that I can never remeber exactly how the lyrics go in the chorus. He kinda flips them around a bit. It ia Lewis Carroll style puzzle! Or maybe not.

Alex: This is one of my favoite songs on the record too. Sounds like the singer has broken up with his S.O but still wants to know that he's loved...all that ambivalence "I know it seems I was trying to get back at you". Again the drumming on the chorus seems to be a little behind, not pushing at all. The bridge is a pop masterwork -- lyrically it is the culmination of the song and musically it takes it to a new place as well. I also love the colloquialisms "you've been working real hard"; "you've been taking it hard/I know it's hard" -- they just have the ring of real emotion. Great great song.


Blogger black b said...

i can't stand it anymore - no comments on such a love-filled wilco romp?

i enjoyed this tandem blogging session very much, yo.

i think i finally decided (after several, "will maybe it's this one. ooh..this one is really good too"s) that 'say you miss me' is my fave on this album. it's got just enough sweet & sad to make me hum happily all the day long.

i'm a bit surprised that neither of you mentioned how loud phillip seymour hoffman is in the mix on this record, though. very loud. calm down phillip seymour hoffman. i can hear you.

9:49 AM  
Blogger glycerin said...

You know what? I loves me some Wilco, baby. LOVES ME SOME.

Sometimes I bother my husband by just saying quietly "Yankee. Hotel. Foxtrot.

Yankee. Hotel. Foxtrot."

Say it with me people!!!


1:20 PM  

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