I subscribe to Very Short List and I am happy that I do. Recently they highlighted John Doe’s new album, A Year in the Wilderness. They do this interlocking pie chart meant to show that the subject is a combination of the performances in the graph. In this case the chart included Billy Bragg & Wilco, Richard & Linda Thompson, and Don Delillo.
That was enough to make me click through to the free, streaming album. It sounded pretty good so I forwarded to bunch of people including a friend with punk rock leanings. He thanked me for the turn-on and then pointed out that John Doe was playing in town the following evening. We went to the show and from the front row right it was great, and ever since then I’ve had the song The Golden State stuck in my head.
Now, here’s the rub. Mr. Doe (can I call him that?) is streaming the new album for free. I can hear that cool California song all day long if I want. Consequently, I don’t want to buy the album. But, I probably wouldn’t have gone to the concert without the streaming album. So, even though I won’t buy the album, it’s good that the music is available for free, right?
Nice John Doe interview/performance here, and I love this video of The Golden State with Cindy Wasserman.
John Doe sings
And I am (mostly) happy about it.
What happened was that I found this bootleg recording of a benefit solo acoustic show that Tweedy did for his kids’ school in Chicago and was playing it in the bedroom one weekend morning. Tweedy talks a lot during the show; he’s charmingly insecure self-deprecating and funny, while maintaining his performer authority. He continually professes to being really nervous because his kids’ teachers are there, and at one point he sees his wife in the crowd and asks her what she’s doing. She replies that she’s with Anne. “Oh Great.” Tweedy sighs. “Anne’s my son’s teacher,” he says dejectedly, then whispers to himself, “keep-it-together… keep-it-together…”
My wife meanwhile is just melting. “What does he look like?” she asked me. Then she starts listening to the music. My wife’s a bit obsessive; and she’s loyal. So that combination means that she has listened to nothing but Jeff Tweedy and Wilco since that morning a month ago. She has grown particularly enamored by the song Jesus, ect. Now, I love that song too, and have about half a dozen recordings of it on my computer. I made the mistake of pointing that out to my wife and she has proceeded to play the song over and over (and over) again.
I am starting to hate Jeff Tweedy.
By the way, Wilco has a new album out and are currently on tour. I like the new album. It’s not a masterpiece (like YHF) but it has plenty of emotional bang and the guitar playing is somewhere between awesome and totally awesome. It’s well worth a listen…