I Wanna be Literated #199

I Wanna be Literated #199

Thursday, 07 February 2019

Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back)
Jeff Tweedy

I came late to the Wilco game. Maybe it’s because I associated them with an old girlfriend who tried getting me into them. I was just too engaged in punk rock to really care. I remember us driving from San Diego to Portland Oregon and her playing Yankee Hotel Foxtrot in the car trying to impress me. Hoping it would get through to me. It wasn’t happening. On that trip she also bought Being There in a record store and I remember her playing it while we were driving through the Redwoods. That didn’t do it for me either. Maybe Wilco was just going to be her thing? Then, we broke up and I didn’t have to worry about Wilco again. My boss at the time also loved Wilco, but what did he know? Then, I found a new girlfriend, who was, again, in love with Wilco. I realized I wasn’t going to get rid this band. I would have to put in the work and at least understand the references for posterity. So, I listened to Yankee Hotel Foxtrot carefully over a matter of months, and it hit me. I was a dumdum for not having noticed this wonderful music right in front of me all these years.

I’ve also begun to appreciate Jeff Tweedy a lot more. He’s a talented man and is very self aware. That’s both refreshing and a rarity in celebrities these days. Is Jeff Tweedy a celebrity? Anyway, he seems like the kind of man who can laugh at himself. He was also on At Midnight one time cracking wise, which brought him up a couple notches in my book.

David Sedaris once mentioned that the problem with celebrity books is always the cover. It always has a photo of them making a funny face or looking surprised at themselves, “Wait, did I just write a book? How in the world could *I* do that?” That’s the look I’m talking about. That’s the look Jeff Tweedy has on the cover of his book. And speaking of David Sedaris, certain chapters of the book definitely have the feeling of a Sedaris story, where Tweedy is able to comment on a very mundane thing and change our perspective on it. The reader knows they’re in good hands. The man is talented for sure.

Let’s Go (So, We Can get Back) chronicles Tweedy’s life, from growing up as a kid in rural Illinois, through his musical careers in Uncle Tupelo and Wilco, his relationship with his wife and kids, and his addiction. There are certain people Tweedy highlights to tell his stories whether it’s Jay Farrar, or Jay Bennett, or his managers or Mavis Staples. The highlights for me are when Tweedy talks about the more relatable parts of his life, like figuring out your parents when you’re growing up, working mundane jobs, and discovering how to have friends. There’s a sweetness to these stories and they’re both engaging and fun to read. Of course there’s the musical side of things, touring and recording, and these moments, surprisingly aren’t as interesting as the regular slice of life stuff. The minutia of the studio doesn’t really compare to the story of meeting his wife for the first time, or driving with friends to see a band they all loved. Also, kid stories will always be boring.

Tweedy is a clearly a gifted writer and Let’s Go is a funny and engaging book while at the same time it makes an effort to appeal to Wilco fans and give them what they want. The only question is what kind or how big of a Wilco fan you have to be to truly love this book.

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