A perfectly good Wilco love song. In that sense it’s not particularly notable, but the important part is to pay attention to the background, which is first-class studio work, on an album that had a self-imposed one day per song rule none the less.
The alt-country tone, drums, perfect guitar grit…that’s not even the noteworthy stuff. The steel string that wanders around the entire song is both perfectly mixed and perfectly balanced. If you’re not paying attention it’s simply hiding behind the piano. But then they manage one more layer — a harmonica that also picks up and drifts off and, in a sense, is playing dueling banjos with the steels string.
It’s all fantastic, frankly. This song should be ranked much higher. It probably would be if it wasn’t sitting on such a great album.
This song managed a 32 ranking without actually getting a 32 or better score from any of us. Chalk this up the subconscious torpedoing of every song any of us likes by someone else.
This is a title track, and if a title track is at it best with I Walk The Line, or Highway 61 Revisited, I guess we call this the paramount moment in which Tweedy mellowed into middle age. He’s survived long enough to license a big chunk of this album into VW commercials and play the big stage at an entirely overdone 2007 Bonaroo (I know because I was there).
This song got in the 30s because it was too uneventful for any of us to even notice.
I’m a sucker for a song about the complex relationship between musician and fans, not to mention the complex relationship between self-aware musician and self. Tweedy explored these themes often on Being There, including on “Hotel Arizona”.
Is this a lyrical milestone? Not even close. However, the last two minutes of this song slay me, and I wish they’d last forever. It’s the repetitive piano/keyboard, haunting organ, intensifying drums and guitar — all building to a solemn "One more worried whisper, right in my ear…"
I suppose it’s my turn to get back in the fray here — I’ll save the discussion of #33’s preposterous rating for Grovich — by stating that I am right between Kevin and Chris on rating this rather pleasant if unassuming ditty from Summerteeth. ”When You Wake Up Feeling Old” is sort of odd, in that it’s a simple concept in both lyrics and melody, and Tweedy does his best to stay out of the way of both, but it leaves verses that are strange and devoid of any apparent meaning (a fact that Tweedy impliedly acknowledges with his “Sing some strange verse/from some strange song of vines” line).
So the song doesn’t extend far past “Can you be where you want to be?” as the eternal question for anyone who has reached the stage in their life when the journey is dwindling. The destination is what holds the promise at that moment.
This was voted 25, 42, 53 — a further embodiment of Patrick and I taking contradictory angles on a song.
I’ll concede it’s not the most Wilco song Wilco ever put out. But it’s got an organ. It’s got “okay alright okay alright,” which is a fun thing to shout along to. The irreverence is fun too: that’s okay with me.
And here’s the ironic part: this is the closest thing Wilco ever had to hit. It peaked at #22 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart*, and would have been an interesting jumping off point to Wilco, the pop band. That would have been horrible, but interesting.
*As a side note: how un-late-’90s is something called the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart?
There are eight songs just on this albums that The Slow States Committee prefers, but that’s how hits work — they’re broad enough to achieve broad success, and not delivery anything especially inspiring to anyone. Without actually knowing, I’ll call this one part of the ex-girlfriend dig catalog of American Rock. It’s also part of the “this video has nothing whatsoever to do with the song” trend, a popular play in the late ’90s when this was released as a single.
But hey, let’s go skydiving on the record label’s tab. Maybe this should have been a sign of YHF things to come.
There’s a scene in High Fidelity where John Cusack is talking about the important rules of a good mix. I’ve always wished that scene was an hour long. One of the few details given is that you always have to take it back a little on the second song. ”You Are My Face” is the second track on the album and nails the spirit of that rule. It stars off as a calm spring day, windows down drive, then gets Tweedy Soulful at the two minute mark with a shout of “I have no idea how this happens.”
It then cuts back down to mellow, and drifts away with only an ode to — and not the insane pain of — A Ghost Is Born outros. This is a good track.
More beer as agriculture, e.g. what kind of food is in this thing? Rogue continues to kill it. I know east coast beers are, as a pack, a step behind their kinsfolk out west, but this seems like an area they could take the lead quickly with such a strong small scale farming community already ramped and servicing NY and DC.
Best live show I saw this year, and I saw Bob Dylan this year. And I saw The Avett Brothers. And Isbell only played for a half-hour (it was at a festival where he was added late). And it was still the best show I saw this year.
Devon Edwards (@Devon2012) just picked up Wilco, which inspired me to post one more of these. Maybe two, even. It’s not like there’s a lot to write about on the football front, anyway. Slow States!
Anyway, “Pot Kettle Black” is one of the few songs from Yankee Hotel Foxtrot that I don’t have ranked higher than everyone else. Grovich has it higher than anyone, probably because it’s as close to the melodic pop of Summerteeth that YHF gets. There’s not a whole lot here that is particularly revelatory, but it somehow manages to bridge the gap between the band’s AM radio sensibility and bleepy-bloopy tendencies better than anything else. It’s also a genuinely entertaining song. Good enough.