Something truly peculiar happened to me yesterday. Only twice in my life have I made special trips into a strange room to demand the people there reveal the name of the band they are playing and the song that is being sung. In a strange twist of fate, both times it's been Wilco.
These great songs, what planet were they being beamed in from?
It would probably be helpful for you to understand my long tempestuous relationship with Wilco in order to see why this is such a big deal. Wilco and I are like the two cantankerous protaginists thrown together by fate in a romantic comedy, who bicker incessantly like bitter enemies but underneath it all have unrestrained lust and affection for one another.
My earliest recollection of bad feelings for Jeff Tweedy & Co. can be traced back to the summer of 2004. Newly pregnant with my third child, I sat shotgun in a friend's car while he chaperoned my Finn Brothers concert experience. My husband was out of town and knocked-up former groupies can't be trusted to rock the night away at the 9:30 Club without some help. This buddy kept on about his fanatical devotion to Wilco and how he had traveled far and wide to "follow" the tour as it wound its way around the US. All this despite working a full time job and raising a family. I instantly went to the bad place I normally go when I hear about roving groups of music fans truckin' their way across state lines to see the object of their desire.
I knew this drill all too well having had an old boyfriend that bordered on the fault line between Clueless Hippy Vagrant and Beserkville Never mind that he eventually became a wildly successful dentist later on in life: anything Grateful Dead-related had to be experienced and I wanted absolutely NO PART of that droning mellow sea of waste.
My narrow mind was made up in an instant. I fucking hated Wilco.
At this point, it made about as much sense as my Mom during her first week of menopause to cut an entire band off because my ex-boyfriend had bad taste. I'd heard perhaps two Wilco songs up to that point and to toss them into the same pit of musical despair as the Dead was absurd.
Then came the first time I heard "Impossible Germany." I actually ran full speed down two flights of stairs to the source, which was my husband who was wholly unprepared for the ferocity of my attack.
"Is this you, did you write this song? It's gorgeous! Who is this?"
Because he is thoughtful and much quieter than me, he laughed to himself saying he wished he could've written something so fantastic and that it was, in fact, Wilco.
Putting my dislike away for a nanosecond, I enjoyed the rest of the tune which lodged itself permanently in my brain, filed under Things That Are Awesome But I Cannot Admit To Liking.
Years passed, I caught snippets of Wilco songs here and there, making a mental note of the good ones but admitting to nothing. An amazing documentary I Am Trying To Break Your Heart came out and I watched, remaining uninterested even though I stayed up until 4 AM to finish it. Then yesterday, I skipped into the school office with the same son who was just percolating during my definative declaration seven years earlier and heard another song that compelled me to interrupt an already full-blown conversation.
"Who is this?"
"It's 'Dawned On Me' by Wilco."
So now it is time to recant. To give it up and admit that everything my husband told me about Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was true and that I should acknowledge a good thing when I hear it. Despite what my ears and gut have been telling me for years, I have denied the greatness of this band and everything they've given to the world.
Wilco, you are great and I was wrong. Carry on.