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Put on Your Headphones Before You Explode

July 5, 2009
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Dave was the first person to play Tom Waits for me.   He’s done a lot of other stuff, too.  We were recently talking about Wilco.  He’d seen some of their set at Bonnaroo, listened to their new record, and reported on them thusly:

I do like them, but I feel like they’re not that exciting these days.  Seeing them is like visiting an old friend who still lives in your hometown.

I got what he was saying.  Overall, Wilco (The Album) isn’t exciting.  It’s fair to ask if Nels Cline’s talents are put to their best use imitating George Harrison -that’s exactly what Cline does on “You’ll Never Know”.  It’s also fair to conclude that they’re not.  But, I think there’s more to the record than that.

After his three electric masterpieces, Bob Dylan put out the mostly-acoustic John Wesley Harding.  Released six months after Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, some said the Dylan record sounded like it was trying to reclaim a long-gone sound.  In retrospect, it’s clear that Dylan’s sonic reset came in service to his growth as a songwriter.

See?  He even dresses like Dylan in the 70s.  Click for a recent Times article about Tweedy.Wilco’s new record is no John Wesley Harding, but I think something similar may be at play here.  While the sound of The Album doesn’t come close to the risks of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot or the frustration embodied on A Ghost is Born, it doesn’t really sound like any of their other records, either.  If Wilco (The Album) deserves comparison to any Dylan record, it’s the domestic tranquility of New Morning, where the songwriter gave himself permission to enjoy the status quo for a while.

If Dave hadn’t demonstrated a supernatural understanding of music in thirty million different ways over the years, I would say something vindictive about him in this space.  Did I mention he introduced me to Tom Waits’ music?  My autobiography will have a chapter dedicated to the godlike esteem I have for him.  It will include no mention of this misstep.  ❤

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. JoJo permalink
    July 5, 2009 7:11 pm

    when i first met dave, he kept telling me to listen to rufus wainright. i think that was in 1999. i can only tell him to listen to joe castiglione, which i’m pretty sure he already does.

    assuming we’re talking about the same dave. and same rufus and joe.

  2. JoJo permalink
    July 5, 2009 7:17 pm

    no, it was 1998. mistaking 1999 for 1998 is so 2009. or 8. word.

    • Barry permalink*
      July 5, 2009 9:19 pm

      It’s the same Dave. He also introduced me to Rufus Wainwright’s music. This was back in the heady days when I only listened to Bob Dylan.

      I ❤ Remy.

  3. seedawg permalink
    July 6, 2009 12:14 pm

    When I first met Dave he was telling me to listen to Matchbox 20. That was back in 1995 in Chauga Falls. Good times… I wonder what he thinks of the new Rob Thomas album….

  4. Rita Meta permalink
    July 6, 2009 12:22 pm

    Dave would go on and on about Rob Thomas. He thought he was an amazing lyricist on par with Dylan. He also turned me on to Eve 6. I remember dancing in the dark to “Heart In Blender.” We couldn’t get enough, played that song on repeat and sang all the words for hours. We watched the sun rise to a beautiful oblivion. Those were the days…

  5. Ian permalink*
    July 7, 2009 8:56 am

    Dave and I used to hang out and smoke banana peels, and every now and then, a worm would inch by and he’d ignite it with his FlameEye.

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