Wilco: 50 Things You Didn’t Know

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wilco-coveleski-park-15
50. In 1981, when Wilco lead singer Jeff Tweedy was fourteen years old, he befriended Jay Farrar in an English class at Belleville Township High School West. They formed rockabilly group The Plebes, which changed to The Primitives, and finally, Uncle Tupelo.
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wilco-coveleski-park-6
49. For his 34th birthday, Tweedy received a private guitar lesson from Richard Lloyd of Television.
wilco-coveleski-park-9
wilco-coveleski-park-9
48. The lyrical structure of Wilco's songs was dictated by cadavre exquis---an exercise where band members take turns writing lines on a typewriter, but are only allowed to see the previously written line.
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wilco-coveleski-park-2
47. The group named itself "Wilco" after the military and commercial aviation radio voice acronym for "Will Comply." (photo by Nate Azark)
wilco-coveleski-park-19
wilco-coveleski-park-19
46.    A "wilco" is also a South American tree closely related to Yopo. It grows from 5m to 20m tall, has a very thorny trunk and its leaves fold up at night. (photo by Nate Azark)
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wilco-coveleski-park-17
45.    Almost all of the songs that appeared on Mermaid Avenue and Mermaid Avenue Vol. II were recorded over a six day period in December 1997.
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wilco-coveleski-park-16
44.    In 1995 Tweedy quit smoking marijuana after a particularly bad experience with some cannabis brownies.
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wilco-coveleski-park-14
43.    Jeff Tweedy enrolled at several universities, but dropped out to focus on Uncle Tupelo.
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wilco-coveleski-park-13
42.    On December 16, 2008 Jeff's son Spencer Tweedy joined Wilco on stage at Madison Square Garden to play drums on their song "The Late Greats," while opening for Neil Young. Before the song, the entire crowd sang Happy Birthday to Spencer Tweedy for his 13th birthday.
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wilco-coveleski-park-12
41.    When Reprise Records dropped Wilco from their label, it led CEO Gary Briggs to quit. "It [dropping Wilco from the label] should never have happened. One of the most embarrassing moments in my career at Warner Brothers was the day they let Wilco go. It broke my heart, and it told me that I no longer have a home there."
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wilco-coveleski-park-11
40.    Wilco announced in January 2011 that they are creating their own record label which will be called dBpm Records, which stands for Decibels per Minute.
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wilco-coveleski-park-10
39.    Wilco collaborated with Fleet Foxes to cover Bob Dylan's "I Shall Be Released," in anticipation of the 2008 presidential election. They offered the MP3 as a free download from the band's website in exchange for a promise to vote in the election.
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wilco-coveleski-park-18
38.    Just as the band was about to tour to promote A Ghost Is Born, Tweedy checked himself in to a rehabilitation clinic in Chicago for an addiction to painkillers. (photo by Nate Azark)
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wilco-coveleski-park-9
37.    A Ghost Is Born featured the song "Less Than You Think", which included a fifteen-minute track of electronic noises and synthesizers, which Tweedy called "the track that everyone will hate". Here's how Tweedy justified the inclusion of the song: "I know ninety-nine percent of our fans won't like that song, they'll say it's a ridiculous indulgence. Even I don't want to listen to it every time I play through the album. But the times I do calm myself down and pay attention to it, I think it's valuable and moving and cathartic. I wouldn't have put it on the record if I didn't think it was great ... I wanted to make an album about identity, and within that is the idea of a higher power, the idea of randomness, and that anything can happen, and that we can't control it."
wilco-coveleski-park-8
wilco-coveleski-park-8
36.    Wilco's 5th studio album, A Ghost Is Born features songs that were created with Pro Tools before ever performing them live. (photo by Nate Azark)
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wilco-coveleski-park-7
35.    Wilco and R.E.M. collaborator Scott McCaughey were scheduled to record an album on September 11, 2001 but were distraught by the terrorist attacks and later that day agreed to "create something good in the world right now" which resulted in The Minus 5's Down with Wilco released in 2003.
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wilco-coveleski-park-6
34.    In an effort to avoid negative publicity for the ill-treatment of Wilco, Reprise took interest in The Flaming Lips. Lead singer Wayne Coyne even remarked, "We are benefiting from the label's regret over Wilco. We are living in the golden age of that being such a public mistake. The people on Warners said, "we'll never have a band like Wilco feel we don't believe in them again." They'd tell me that it would never happen to us. And what a great day for me!"
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wilco-coveleski-park-5
33.    Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is Wilco's most successful release to date, selling over 670,000 copies.
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wilco-coveleski-park-4
32.    Wilco left the label after paying $50,000 for the master tapes of the album as a result of being "unwilling to change the album to make it more 'commercially viable.'"
wilco-coveleski-park-3
wilco-coveleski-park-3
31.    According to music journalist Greg Kot, as a result of Reprise's Mio Vukovic's disdain for Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, the fact that Wilco ignored his suggestions and that he felt there was no single on the album, in June 2001 the album was rejected by Reprise and Wilco was asked to leave the label.
wilco-coveleski-park-2
wilco-coveleski-park-2
30.    The recording of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was documented by Sam Jones and released in 2002 as the film I Am Trying to Break Your Heart: A Film About Wilco. (photo by Nate Azark)
wilco-coveleski-park-1
wilco-coveleski-park-1
29.    Tweedy and Bennett frequently argued over whether Yankee Hotel Foxtrot should be accessible to a general listener, or attempt to cover new musical ground. (photo by Nate Azark)
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96273832_10
28.    When Bennett sought to mix the tracks for Foxtrot, Tweedy thought O'Rourke could do a better job and had him mix tracks unbeknownst to Bennett. O'Rourke cut the contributions of other members on several of the songs, leaving some songs to only feature the Loose Fur trio. Immediately after the album was released in 2001, Bennett was released from the band.
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96272730_10
27.    In May 2000, Jeff Tweedy, Jim O'Rourke and drummer Glenn Kotche enjoyed working together so much that they decided to record an album as a side project named Loose Fur. Tweedy, unhappy with Foxtrot's drum parts, replaced Wilco drummer Ken Coomer with Kotche in January 2001.
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96272729_10
26.    Soon after the recording sessions for Mermaid Avenue Vol. II, Wilco purchased a studio on Irving Park Road in Chicago, which they named the Wilco Loft and used to record songs for Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.
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96272711_10
25.    Wilco was pressured by Reprise Records to produce a hit single from their third studio album, Summerteeth, which resulted in a radio friendly version of "Can't Stand It."
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91450578_10
24.    Other conflicts over Mermaid Avenue included Bragg's refusal to use Bennett's remixes of the tracks on the album, the two parties' inability to establish a promotional tour, and quarreling over royalties and guest musician fees.
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91450569_10
23.    Conflict arose between Bragg and Wilco shortly after Mermaid Avenue was completed. Concerned that Bragg had overproduced his songs, Bennett suggested remixing the tracks, to which Bragg responded: "you make your record, and I'll make mine, f--ker."
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91450546_10
22.    The December 1997 recording of Mermaid Avenue was the topic of BBC's Man in the Sand documentary.
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91450534_10
21.    Bragg preferred to record more of Guthrie's politically-charged lyrics, while Tweedy preferred to record lyrics that showcased Guthrie as a "freak weirdo".
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91450512_10
20.    After having named his old band Titanic Love Affair after a Billy Bragg lyric, Bennett was very enthused to record Mermaid Avenue with one of his idols.
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91450479_10
19.    Tweedy has been afflicted with migraine headaches since childhood. Treatment for the migraines led to a dependency on painkillers, for which he underwent successful rehab in 2004.
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91450467_10
18.    Nora Guthrie chose Billy Bragg to record her late Father's unrecorded songs in 1995, and Bragg called upon Tweedy and the gang to take on the ambitious task.
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91450460_10
17.    The songs recorded on Mermaid Avenue were written by the late American folk singer Woody Guthrie, who was unable to record them due to the motor impairments of Huntington's disease.
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88685417_10
16.    Summerteeth's heavily depressing lyrics were inspired by the marital problems of Tweedy and his wife and twentieth-century literature.
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88685399_10
15.    During November 1997, Wilco recorded their third studio album, Summerteeth, in Willie Nelson's Texas recording studio.
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82803664_10
14.    In an effort to keep album costs low, Tweedy asked Reprise Records to sell the 19-song, double album for a single album price in exchange for the band's royalties, resulting in the band passing up about $600,000.
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82803654_10
13.    While recording Being There, the band did not focus on producing a hit song for the album.
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74693540_10
12.    Bob Egan of Freakwater played pedal steel guitar on "Far, Far Away" and "Dreamer in My Dreams" on the album Being There, and then became an official member in September 1996.
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2603710_10
11.    Shortly after the release of A.M., Jay Bennett joined the band, providing the band with a keyboardist and another guitarist.
Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival - Day 4
Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival - Day 4
10.    Wilco's first album A.M.'s reception lagged greatly in comparison to Farrar's new band Son Volt's first album, which led Wilco members to perceive A.M. as a failure. (Photo by Jeff Gentner/Getty Images)
Warner Music Group 2008 GRAMMY Awards After Party - Inside
Warner Music Group 2008 GRAMMY Awards After Party - Inside
9.    When Tweedy went on to form Wilco, Jay Farrar proceeded to form the band Son Volt. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images for WMG)
Fender Jazzmaster 50th Anniversary Concert
Fender Jazzmaster 50th Anniversary Concert
8.    Despite Tweedy's attempts to contract songwriting submissions from other members  in the band, John Stirratt's "It's Just That Simple" (A.M.) was the last song Wilco ever released that was lyrically solely written by a member besides Tweedy. (Photo by Thos Robinson/Getty Images for Fender)
Fender Jazzmaster 50th Anniversary Concert
Fender Jazzmaster 50th Anniversary Concert
7.     Jeff Tweedy and John Stirratt are the only two remaining members of Wilco since its creation in 1994- 12 other musicians have rotated in and out. (Photo by Thos Robinson/Getty Images for Fender)
Fender Jazzmaster 50th Anniversary Concert
Fender Jazzmaster 50th Anniversary Concert
6. Wilco's eighth studio album, The Whole Love, will be released on September 27, 2011. (Photo by Thos Robinson/Getty Images for Fender)
2009 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival - Day 3
2009 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival - Day 3
5.     Tweedy and the musicians of Uncle Tupelo, minus Farrar, were tempted to keep the name but ultimately decided to change it. (Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)
Farm Aid 2009
Farm Aid 2009
4.    Pat Sansone has contributed to albums by Joseph Arthur, Andrew Bird, Josh Rouse, Mavis Staples, Swan Dive, Jenifer Jackson, Ryan Adams, and The Clientele. (Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images)
2010 MusiCares Person Of The Year Tribute To Neil Young - Roaming Inside
2010 MusiCares Person Of The Year Tribute To Neil Young - Roaming Inside
3.    The Autumn Defense is a Wilco side project by John Stirratt and Pat Sansone. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for NARAS)
2010 MusiCares Person Of The Year Tribute To Neil Young - Roaming Inside
2010 MusiCares Person Of The Year Tribute To Neil Young - Roaming Inside
2.     Wilco was formed after Jeff Tweedy left Uncle Tupelo, an alternative country music group that consisted of members Jay Farrar and Mike Heidorn. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for NARAS)
2010 MusiCares Person Of The Year Tribute To Neil Young - Roaming Inside
2010 MusiCares Person Of The Year Tribute To Neil Young - Roaming Inside
1.    In 1981, when Wilco lead singer Jeff Tweedy was fourteen years old, he befriended Jay Farrar in an English class at Belleville Township High School West. They formed rockabilly group The Plebes, which changed to The Primitives, and finally, Uncle Tupelo. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for NARAS)
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wilcobakw
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Wilco Webcast
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