A friend recently came to me with an interesting little project: his girlfriend, who usually has stellar taste in music, just can’t get into Wilco (who, I should note, is a band my friend I both count as a personal favorite). Oddly enough, she’s digging Tweedy, which is the side project of Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy.
So, my friend asked me to compile a tracklist designed to get her to love Wilco, or, at the very least, appreciate Wilco. I thought about the options, and what I sent is below. In the meantime, I ask any fellow Wilco fans to weigh in on what I included or, more importantly, what I left out.
OK, so no matter what order you put them in (and personally, I usually make people listen to Wilco in chronological order to see the growth of the band, but that’s also making them listen to entire albums), you have one directive: start with the live version of Misunderstood from Kicking Television. I can still recall the shock I had hearing that the first time I played Being There – it signaled something HUGE from this band. Plus, that live version is amazing.
I’d also close with One Sunday Morning – it’s maybe the most brilliant way anyone outside of Dylan has ever ended a record.
You could divide the rest in chronological order, or you might try something like “rocking,” “quiet” and “weird” (and now that I write that, I kind of like that order).
So, for albums, here are my cuts. Note: these aren’t necessarily what I consider the best Wilco tracks, but these are ones that I think can define their sound to someone who is trying to find them accessible.
Casino Queen (I recently rediscovered the pure joy in this song, particularly from the fiddle throughout. It’s a VERY Rolling Stones-ish track)
Box Full of Letters (I’d even consider playing the album version, then following it immediately with that stripped down version on Alpha Mike Foxtrot)
Dash 7 (the band’s first effort in getting a little bit outside the alt-country classification)
Misunderstood (Kicking Television version)
The Lonely 1/Dreamer in My Dreams (the quiet/loud combo just always blows me away)
A Shot in the Arm
I’m Always in Love (for the pure Beatlesness for her)
How to Fight Loneliness
Via Chicago (Ashes of American Flags version)
Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
I Am Trying to Break Your Heart (Wilco, in one song, part 1)
Ashes of American Flags
A Ghost is Born
At Least That’s What You Said (make sure to turn up Jeff’s guitar)
Handshake Drugs (that bass line)
Sky Blue Sky
You Are My Face
Impossible Germany (Ashes of American Flags version)
Wilco the Album
Bull Black Nova (the sound of absolute madness)
The Whole Love
Art of Almost (Wilco, in one song, part 2)
The Whole Love (again, with her Beatles love, I feel like she can appreciate this perfect little pop number)
One Sunday Morning