My ladyfriend bought me a copy of Let's Go (So We Can Get Back) for my birthday. She knows that I'm fond of thinking person's rock star memoirs and biopics. She told two helpful folks at Brazos Books that I really dig Patti Smith's written work and recently devoured Elvis Costello's autobiography; they both immediately suggested Jeff Tweedy's book, of which they just happened to have a signed copy. Good call. I thoroughly enjoyed this collection of memories from Tweedy's 50-plus years on earth.
Jeff Tweedy is not exactly a household name, and I don't foresee Wilco's induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame any time soon. Here is the total of what I knew about Tweedy and Wilco before I began reading:
- Wilco formed in the '90s, and their music has been labeled "alt-country" or "y'all-ternative."
- The formation of the band followed the dissolution of Tweedy's previous band, Uncle Tupelo, when co-founder Jay Farrar left and formed Son Volt.
- Casual fans frequently conflate all three of those bands.
- Wilco collaborated with Billy Bragg on sifting Woody Guthrie's unrecorded lyrics and setting them to music, resulting in the two Mermaid Avenue CD's. I own the first, but have never listened to the second. The first, which I rushed to buy after hearing selected tracks on Austin's KGSR-FM, is the only Wilco recording I've ever owned.
- Wilco's album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was the band's attempt to expand its musical boundaries beyond the alt-country corral; fans dug it, but critical response was decidedly mixed.
- The band's musical output, written primarily by Tweedy, appeals mostly to a white, middle-class, musical-connoisseur demographic...i.e., quite a few of my friends.