Jeff Tweedy – “Laminated Cat”

Tuesday, August 2, 2011 8:53 PM

I am a Jeff Tweedy freak.  I should get that out of the way.  I didn’t get into Wilco until I moved to Nashville, which was after Yankee Hotel Foxtrot came out, but it didn’t take me long to catch up once I realized how great they were/are (about 6 months).  I got addicted to Wilco after watching I Am Trying to Break Your Heart.  There are a lot of songwriters that I like/love but I think Jeff Tweedy is my overall personal favorite.  I connect with his lyric style more than Bono, even more than Dylan.  There have been so many eras to Wilco.  I have different opinions of each of their records.  But I think I see Being There, Summerteeth and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot as the golden age of the band.    There was an extra something special happening with those albums.

I wanted to pick a Wilco song to talk about but they have so many.  I zeroed in on the 3 albums I mentioned earlier.  I think Summerteeth is the most poppy and accessible out of the 3.  There were a few tracks from that album I almost picked to talk about.  I ended up deciding on this song that isn’t even a Wilco song.  It’s from Tweedy’s side band Loose Fur.  And I chose this one simply because of the way it makes me feel.  It seems to mostly be just a description of different seasons.  Also, it seems to be able to stand alone pretty well.  A lot of Wilco songs seem to be better when you listen to them with the other songs on the albums.

I remember the lyrics to this song just striking me.  Maybe it’s an imagery thing.  When I think of this song I think of how nice it is to hear plain old descriptions in songs.  “Spring time comes and the leaves are back on the trees again, snipers are harder to see, my friends.”  Is he saying “snipers” or “snipes”?  I always thought it was snipes.  But it sounds like snipers, like a sniper hiding in a tree behind all the new leaves.  Hmm..

I like this song because it feels like just hanging out to me.  I guess the verses go through the different seasons but a lot of the lyrics just paint a picture of sitting around.  I think it just feels different to me as far as song topics go.  Songs like this make me want to write poems.  NOT songs.  POEMS.  It’s like I want to go grab a pen and a notebook and go outside and write about nature.  And I think that’s why I like this song so much.  And it’s got a cool groove.

I’ve noticed that Wilco is a strange topic.  People either know who they are and have all their albums (like me) or they don’t and they always talk about how they just don’t get it.  There’s not a lot of things I would get in a fist fight over but I think I could fight somebody if they said Wilco sucked.  I don’t know why it bothers me so much when I hear people acting like they’re not that good.  Their greatness seems more like a fact to me than an opinion.  It’s one of those things where if somebody says they don’t like Wilco I automatically check out of any conversation about music (or anything else really) with that person from that moment on.  It’s like them saying they don’t like ice cream or Star Wars or something.  To me it means that this person’s musical taste is about as useful as a broken thermometer is to figure out the temperature.  Like, yesterday I found this youtube video where this guy said New Adventures in Hi-Fi by R.E.M. sucked.  I felt like I was seeing a new depth in human stupidity.  I had to close out of the video and watch some things about dudes getting kicked in the privates to cleanse my palett.

I just don’t think it’s possible to have a respectable musical opinion if you can’t appreciate Wilco.  That’s really all I’m getting at.  It doesn’t even seem like a “it’s not my taste” kind of thing.  In my mind someone saying “I don’t like Wilco” translates as “everything I say about music doesn’t mean that much” or simply, “my ears don’t work”.

Sorry, I had to get that out.  I’m passionate.

I don’t even know what I’m talking about anymore..

Note: The youtube video is pretty low res but the sound is good.  It has some banter at the beginning that’s funny.  It’s taken from the dvd Sunken Treasure: Live In the Pacific Northwest, which is worth seeking out if you can find it.     

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