Tweedy Cutlet 

Wilco's bloated ego needs puncturing.

Once upon a time, guys like Bob Dylan and Gram Parsons blended the earthy honesty of country with the electric dynamics of rock. In the process, they created a genre that has (with few exceptions) stood the test of time.

The '90s saw a revival, led by Uncle Tupelo. When Tupelo disbanded, thanks undoubtedly to the megalithic egos of those involved, one ego went on to form Wilco. (The other ego, Jay Farrar, spawned his own equally uninteresting band, Son Volt.)

But where Farrar faded into the obscurity he so richly deserved, Wilco has grown with each increasingly dull release to become one of the most popular purveyors of indie rock in the land.

As its albums get progressively sillier and more "artistic," Wilco's popularity grows exponentially in inverse proportion to its musical value. How does a band that excels at so little mean so much to so many?

In Wilco's documentary, I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, Tweedy's insurmountable arrogance exposes itself, as he tells Jay Bennett (who has since left the band) that they should hold back on guitar solos, because they "aren't really that important" anymore. His is the land of sappy pop, mindless noodling, and pretentious "experiments" that are really, at heart, nothing more than the work of a marginally interesting artist. And that's on a good day.

If he got little or no airplay in the college-radio circles, this would be superfluous. But the band is a darling of soul-patchers and chain-walleters everywhere. It's the mysterious adoration of Tweedy's every flatulent outburst that finds me flailing, razor in hand, at the engorged heart of this sacred cow. To the slaughterhouse with you,Wilco!

Speaking of Shorts

More by John Cramer


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