Wilco – Jesus, Etc

Jesus Etc

Attack of the Killer Track! is a series that explores tracks from artists from a variety of genres. Some of the tracks were singles, some of them were obscure b-sides or long forgotten album tracks. One thing is certain – all of them are killer tracks.

It is a rarity for a song to capture the zeitgeist in a meaningful manner. On the patriotic side, the songs can sound forced and full of propaganda jingles. On the rebel alliance side, the sounds can also sound forced and full of propaganda jingles. It takes a perfect storm of outside forces to produce a song that captures an era or event. Jesus, Etc by Wilco was recorded in early 2001, released in early 2002. Written by Jeff Tweedy and Jay Bennett, it uses evocative lyrical imagery married to country-ish musical backing. It is one of the more straightforward songs from the experimental tour de force, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Tweedy’s opening world-weary sigh “Jesus, don’t cry / You can rely on me honey” comes straight out of conversations couples have each and every day. The melodic string laden hook pulsates throughout the song, making it instantly memorable. Veering on the “glass is half empty” world view, Tweedy continues “You were right about the stars / Each one is a setting sun”. A pessimist’s way of imploring the listener to embrace the now? Possibly. The post 9/11 world was full of misguided nationalism, but it also left an overwhelming feeling of uncertainty. Sadness permeated the air. Considering this song was written PRE 9/11 but released POST 9/11, the next verses are just a bit eerie “Tall buildings shake / Voices escape singing sad sad songs / Voices whine / Skyscrapers are scraping together”. Metaphors for conflict in a relationship and the sadness that ensues. Tweedy resolves everything with a bit of a non resolution “Our love is all of God’s money / Everyone is a burning sun”. Another brilliant way of imploring us to embrace the now. The ancient Epicureans famously believed in the philosophy of  “Eat, drink, be merry – for tomorrow we may die”. In the post 9/11 world, Wilco captured that essence in a way that made the world take notice. I believe that is a philosophy worth embracing no matter what our religious beliefs are. Make each moment count.

Antony and the Johnsons – I Am a Bird Now

Part 21 of a series that will run every Friday throughout 2012 as I discuss records that have affected me throughout the years – Flashback Fridays

In August 2005 I had the opportunity to visit Chicago, IL for a long weekend. My geeky excitement was building to a crescendo – yes, I’d be able to listen to the Sufjan Stevens album Come On Feel The Illinoise in the state of Illinois in the year of release (I told you before – I’m not very cool). I’d also have a chance to check out Marina City – the unique Chicago hotel structure that was made (even more) famous by being on the cover of Wilco’s 2002 album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. While I was plotting my geeky adventures I also decided to steal a bit of Lake Michigan (by way of an empty soda bottle), eat at the original Pizzeria Uno, and drive South along Lake Michigan until I hit the Eastern time zone – so I could go “back in time” like Marty McFly in the movie Back to the Future.

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