Wilco‘s Jeff Tweedy has opened up about his relationship with music criticism and revealed “I tried to be a rock critic but I couldn’t do it”.
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The frontman and songwriter recently released his third book World Within A Song: Music That Changed My Life And Life That Changed My Music, which was described as “an exciting and heartening mix of memories, music, and inspiration.”
Appearing on the latest episode of Pitchfork‘s weekly podcast, The Pitchfork Review, Tweedy discussed his book, especially his complex relationship with music criticism.
“I take that aphorism about how music critics are frustrated musicians and turn it on its head when I think about my life, because early on I thought that writing about music would be more attainable to me,” he told host, and Pitchfork Associate Editor, Sam Sodomsky.
He continued: “So I tried my hand at writing for fanzines in St. Louis but was too lazy to do it correctly or with any success. I did a bunch of interviews with different people that came through town: Rain Parade, Stiv Bators, Long Riders, Soul Asylum. Basically, I tried to get free tickets to shows, and there was a fanzine that would give me free tickets.
“I only completed maybe one or two of those assignments, but I did get to hang out with those musicians. I would always joke that I tried to be a rock critic but couldn’t do it, so I started a band.”
Tweedy’s book sees him explore “50-plus songs that changed his life, the real-life experiences behind each one, as well as what he’s learned about how music and life intertwine and enhance each other”, per an official listing.
Included are tracks by the likes of Billie Eilish, The Velvet Underground, The Replacements, Mavis Staples, Joni Mitchell, Otis Redding and Dolly Parton, with Tweedy also opening up about his own material.
Within the pages, the musician looks to answer the following questions: “What makes us fall in love with a song? What makes us want to write our own songs? Do songs help? Do songs help us live better lives? And do the lives we live help us write better songs?”
Elsewhere, Wilco revealed details about their new font, ‘Wilco Loft Sans’. The font was created by SimpleBits, the band describe Wilco Loft Sans as an “all-caps, high contrast sans serif” on their store.
Wilco recently released their 13th studio album ‘Cousin’, led by the first single ‘Evicted’. The record, which was produced by Cate Le Bon, was released on September 29, 2023 on dBpm Records.
‘Cousin’ marked the first time Wilco have handed the reins over to a producer outside their immediate circle of collaborators since 2007’s ‘Sky Blue Sky’.
“The amazing thing about Wilco is they can be anything,” Le Bon said of the band. “They’re so mercurial, and there’s this thread of authenticity that flows through everything they do, whatever the genre, whatever the feel of the record. There aren’t many bands who are able to, this deep into a successful career, successfully change things up.”
Meanwhile, earlier last year, Yo La Tengo brought out Wilco for the encore of their show at Metro in Chicago, running through the Beatles‘ ‘She’s A Woman’, Bob Dylan‘s ‘Love Minus Zero/No Limit’, the Heartbreakers’ ‘One Track Mind’ and Fairport Convention’s ‘Who Knows Where The Time Goes?’