Wilco: Bringing It All Back Home (Relix Revisited)
This record does seem to have more of Tweedy “talking” if you will, more storytelling than other efforts whose narratives were not always as clear in their meanings.
“‘Hate It Here’ is certainly one that’s more successful than most songs I write at containing some sort of linear narrative,” says the singer. “It is like ‘Passenger Side’ in that way. There’s a very specific storyline that you can follow. I like writing songs like that. They’re actually way harder to write than anything else that I write. They don’t come around quite as often. But I do think that most of the songs on this record are at least an attempt to achieve that same sort of balance.”
“I think the songs have their own demands and I think ultimately Jeff knows when it’s done for him—that’s when we’re done,” says Cline. “There were times when I thought we were really close to finishing the structure and arrangement of a specific song and he would come up with yet another twist, another idea that would take the song into another direction.
“I think a perfect example is ‘Side With the Seeds’ where the instrumental section in the middle, Jeff decided that it might be fun if he and I played the melody in octaves and played the end of the verse progression right there, and it sounds kind of Allman Brothers-y.”
“There’s something understated about this record, even down to the songs,” says Stirratt. “It was like at the end of the day have a good jam, a good song to just take with you and not make it so much of a monolithic thing.”
“I was having a much more difficult time right after my mom died being sure of anything,” says Tweedy adjusting himself in his chair. “I was having a much harder time being in the studio in New York with Jim [O’Rourke], where I’d been three years earlier, probably at the worst point in my life. I was having a much harder time expressing or even thinking about what it is I wanted the record to sound like.”
As a result, O’Rourke—who produced the previous two albums—did his mix of the album as he saw fit. “Jim’s mix was really good, of the entire record,” says Tweedy emphatically. “There were a few things that were just so far away from what we actually recorded and I felt like what we had done up here, it was so important for that to be the record. They sounded really nice, they just didn’t sound like what it sounded like to me for months listening to rough mixes… they weren’t live sounding.”
For Kotche, whose own playing was much more straight-ahead than previous efforts, O’Rourke’s mix was “maybe more keyboard-driven, maybe the guitars were not as predominant.” After Tweedy came back from a family vacation to Mexico, he listened to the mixes again with fresh ears and decided to call in Jim Scott to mix a version (Scott mixed the band’s Summerteeth and its live album, Kicking Television ). “[Scott’s] are more of an honest representation of what it sounded like in this loft with all of us playing together,” concludes Kotche.
“It may or may not have been the right decision for a lot of other people,” says Tweedy. “But for us, it made all the difference in the world for everybody in the band to be able to feel like the record represented what actually happened in this room.” Maybe O’Rourke’s mix will emerge someday, an inverted concept of what The Beatles did with the “naked” mix of Let It Be.
In 1963, Chicago DJ and oral historian Studs Terkel asked Bob Dylan about his songwriting and intent, to which Dylan responded, “I’m content with the same old piece of wood. I just want to find another place to pound a nail. …Music, my writing, is something special, not sacred… My life is the street where I walk.”
Tweedy has made similar statements: “I like making records I don’t have” and, when we spoke most recently emphasized that, “Ninety-nine percent of my time is spent hanging out and being a dad or being a husband or listening to records the way I used to listen to records when I was ten years old. I don’t think about myself in any kind of public way except when I’m in public.”
Yet, when he is in public, particularly when he’s playing solo, it feels very personal. His stage banter is essentially an ongoing conversation with a fervid audience, one that often finds him being quite revealing and erudite about his own life experiences in a way few performers are. He’s the exact opposite of Dylan in that respect. But Tweedy is also willing to walk away from it all.
“If music wasn’t in my future, I would have been happy just being healthy,” says Tweedy of his commitment to get clean. “I think the opposite is true—I get to make more music. I get to be more present for things that I’m doing and ultimately I get to enjoy them more.
“I don’t even smoke anymore so I don’t even need to go outside to have a cigarette in the middle of playing the guitar so I can do it for uninterrupted hours like I did when I was kid. It’s actually a lot closer to where I began than where I ended up.”
In honor of Umphrey’s McGee’s return to Summer Camp this weekend, we present the group’s Brendan Bayliss and Jake Cinninger performing this version of “The Pequod” from UM’s Anchor Drops.
Dame shares a song from her new EP Preventions of Heartbreak.
Golden Bloom stopped by Relix to perform a tune from their latest EP No Day Like Today.
The Chapin Sisters share an tune from their new album A Date With the Everly Brothers.
Minneapolis-based Night Moves share a song from their record, Colored Emotions, live at Relix.
Cloud Cult share a song from their latest album live at Relix.
The Giving Tree Band enjoy a spring day on the Relix rooftop, while performing a classic Grateful Dead tune.
Canadian singer-songwriter Hayden performs a duet with his sister-in-law Lou Canon. The song appears on Us Alone his first record on Broken Social Scene’s Arts & Crafts Productions.
The Milk Carton Kids share the first song from their new album, The Ash & Clay.
Here is the new video from Serbian guitar ace Ana Popovic. “Object Of Obsession” appears on her latest album Can You Stand The Heat.
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