Day 86: The Coronavirus Countdown - 100 Days of Great Music

The evolution of Wilco over the past 25 years represents one of the more remarkable transformations in popular music during that span.

Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy emerged from the rubble of Uncle Tupelo after the band's 1993 demise to form Wilco with his former Tupelo bandmates (minus Jay Farrar who formed Son Volt instead). Uncle Tupelo was an early alt-country outfit, and Wilco's debut album A.M. released in 1995 followed along that same general path.

But this 1996 double album hinted at Tweedy's restlessness with the limitations of any one single genre. This sprawling set stands as one of two masterpieces in Wilco's catalog along with the art-rocky Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. The experimental aspects of that later album grew from the seeds of Being There, however, and the manifestation of Tweedy's restless spirit can be heard in the sonic deconstruction that introduces the first track "Misunderstood." That could also be a motto for the band's career that followed, because anybody who tried to pigeonhole Tweedy as an alt-country artist at the time clearly failed to grasp the ambition that he possessed - not to mention the creative chops to actually see that ambition through.

Being one of our favorite bands, how about a double dose of Wilco? That other masterpiece - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot - is also worth your time, and it's your bonus pick of the day.

- Chuck Cox and Kendall Webb


Bryan Adams

Anthology (2005)

Why I Love It

I remember begging my dad to take me to see Journey and Bryan Adams in concert when I was in junior high school and living in Austin, Texas. It didn't happen, but I have been a fan of Adams' catchy brand of music from the first time I heard it. The crazy thing about his career is that his first two albums were barely blips on the radar in the United States before the Canadian singer/songwriter broke big with Cuts Like a Knife. There's no way I could make a list of albums I listen to the most without including this collection of greatest hits. Although perhaps a shade excessive with 36 tracks, including a duet with Pamela Anderson (huh?), it's still a great representation of Adams' knack for writing great rock and roll songs with Jim Vallance. From the time I knew about Bryan Adams while in junior high school until well beyond the time I walked across the high school graduation stage, he was making monster hits that were a big part of the soundtrack of my youth. By the way, I finally saw him in concert, which was worth the wait.

Album Highlights

"Cuts Like a Knife," "Heaven" and "Heat of the Night"

Kendall on Chuck's Album of the Day

If Wilco is "dad rock," then it's probably fair to say that Bryan Adams is "mom rock." That's not meant to be a swipe, it's just acknowledging the fact that Adams' monster pop ballads lacked pretentiousness and contained a sex appeal that's completely missing from anything Wilco has ever recorded. That being said, it's perfectly fine to be a guy and love the big hits delivered on this album. In the wrong hands, some of these songs might have been pure cheese dip, but Adams turns in masterful performances throughout creating classics in the process that still resonate.



Being There (1996)

Why I Love It

So if you've followed our countdown here, you know I've already featured albums by Uncle Tupelo and Son Volt.

Now, it's Wilco's turn. The three bands are connected through the co-frontmen of Uncle Tupelo, Jay Farrar of Son Volt and Jeff Tweedy of Wilco. After Tupelo's split, Tweedy struck first in early 1995 with Wilco's debut album A.M., a solid album that, nevertheless, paled in comparison to the gem released by Son Volt that fall - the instant classic Trace.

Tweedy's always admitted that Trace upped the game for Wilco, and the result was this incredible double offering that revealed how much Tweedy was growing as a songwriter and an overall creative force at the time. From their alt-country roots to their art-rock inclinations, Wilco is one of the key bands responsible for pushing rock music into new territory over the past quarter century, and as impossible as it seems, they've now been around long enough to be eligible for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. If they get there, then this album is where it first became apparent that Wilco just might have the goods to stick around and truly become a force in rock music.

Album Highlights

"Misunderstood," "Monday" and "Say You Miss Me"

Chuck on Kendall's Album of the Day

I am a fan of pretty much everything Wilco has released, but there is something extra special about this great double album. I especially love the mood the record creates from song to song, taking you from the highest highs to some of the lowest lows on a dime. Although I adore the opening cut, "Misunderstood," the one that gets me every time is "The Lonely 1." The solemn song about a music fan is one of the most achingly beautiful tunes Jeff Tweedy has ever penned. It's one great song on a truly great album.

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