Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Indie Rockers Can Swear Too - #4 - Wilco

Wonder if anyone has ever been to A&E after burning themselves by burning a flag. Smash the state!

Music can be like a life yardstick sometimes. You can peg memories onto songs, albums or musical movements and know that forever and a day those notes will make you instantly recall something or another. Happy and sad, meaningful and inconsequential. It really can be quite powerful. For me, I still can't hear 'Wannabe' without wanting to be 10 again sliding on my knees around the local disco with the girls looking on adoringly. I think it was adoring glances, I didn't really have any concept of reading emotions back then. They were probably thinking "He's going to ruin his trousers doing that. The child." Still, you know what I'm getting at here.

Today's swear song, for quite a long time, reminded me of being naked. Yes, I know. Grotesque. Still, read on and all will become clear. Like, erm, how clear you can see once the rain has gone.

4. Wilco - Ashes of American Flags

"All my lies are always wishes..."

'Yankee Hotel Foxtrot' is my favourite album of all time. I make no secret of it. I say that because I believe it to be faultless from start to finish and I'm still amazed by how every single second of it feels deliberate, considered. I bought 'Yankee...' when it was released in 2002 and for the first few months of my ownership, a weird pattern started emerging. For some reason or another I was struggling to find the time to listen to new CDs I had bought then. The only real window I had was when I was in the bath so this is what I did with 'Yankee...'. Thing was, for about a month I only listened to it in the bath and after a while the only thing I could associate the album with was, of course, bath times. Tweedy would chime in with some of his cryptic and coded lines and all I'd be thinking of would be lavender bubble bath and looking down at my exposed little beer gut and enormous appendage. In short, I nearly ruined this record with my ridiculous mental associations. With time, though, 'Ashes of American Flags' was the song that started to hook me in. I started listening to the song obsessively and then the record and before long, I didn't listen to anything else for the rest of the year.

A few years ago I use to have this recurring dream that was pretty interesting. It was more dramatic, in a dark way, actually but yeah, here's how it played out. In the dream, I'd be in an exam hall doing, guess what, an exam. Not alone, there'd be a whole load of people all doing the exam too. Anyway, I'd turn over the page and the only question on the paper read "Write out a song word for word overleaf. If you make any mistakes, your life will end." So, as I said pretty dark, isn't it? Simple rules really, write a song out, get it right and live. Ever since then I've often thought about what song I'd do if that situation ever occurred.* I'm now quite sure it would be 'Ashes of American Flags'. Simply beacause there aren't any records I know better than 'Yankee...' and no songs I love or have listened to more than 'Ashes..'. This song, for me, is the archetypal Jeff Tweedy lyric too. Obtuse and abstract to a point yet still catching you off guard now and then with stunningly simple lines that need no deciphering, "I know I would die if I could come back new," it doesn't get any plainer or remorseful than that.

As if it wasn't good enough anyway, there's also a great curse here. A curse that actually makes a beautifully poetic point. Listen out for it and then change all your forum signatures and engravings on your iPod. Go on, it'll make you look coolly detached and clever. I promise.

# of words - 1
Severity of words - The second worst one to youknowwhat
Manner of delivery - It's a good point.

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