“Solitaire” (Wilco Cover)

Originally posted 2009-06-29 19:17:41. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

For Wilco (the album) chords and lyrics, CLICK HERE!

By Chris Moore:

Hello and welcome to another all-new edition of “Chris Moore Monday” here at the best acoustic rock cover song blog on the web today!  For the first time in almost three months, it is my pleasure to bring you a song that has yet to be released.

“Solitaire” is a track from Wilco’s new album, which will be released tomorrow and is titled Wilco (the album).  A few weeks ago, Wilco streamed the entire album on their website for fans to listen to.  This is a tradition stretching back to when they streamed Yankee Hotel Foxtrot online after being dropped from their label at the turn of the millennium.  This time around, I even broke my general rule of waiting to hear an album until it is released in full.  While I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to listen, I also felt like I was breaking a sacred rule, as well as building myself up for disappointment when they stopped streaming it and I had to wait for the album to come out on June 30th.

My solution?

I decided to listen to it only once straight through, and I ended up talking on the phone and doing other work, so I got only a taste of what is to come tomorrow on New Music Tuesday.

From what I heard, I am very much looking forward to hearing the album in full through my car stereo and without distractions.  To help prepare and build up anticipation for tomorrow, I found a YouTube recording of the eighth track, “Solitaire,” and I actually found a good set of chords online already to help me learn the song.  Go figure: accurate chords online…

Anyway, I’m off to watch a replay of last week’s episode of TNA Impact! with Jim, Mike, and their father.  Apparently, their dad was also out of town and missed what has been said to be one of the best Impact!‘s of the year.  I’m excited, and thus I’m cutting my post a bit shorter than usual tonight so I don’t miss any.

I’ll be back soon with more writing and posting than usual if I have my way, as I am officially on summer break and beginning to plan out the next two months so that they are relaxing, and yet productive.

See you next session!

Music Review: Wilco’s “Wilco (the album)”

Originally posted 2009-07-06 23:55:58. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

RATING:  4 / 5 stars

By Chris Moore

For an album that is thematically based in the mysteries of human nature and love, the opening track is remarkably straightforward.  “Are you under the impression / This isn’t your life? / Do you dabble in depression?” Jeff Tweedy inquires in “Wilco (the song)” before declaring that “Wilco will love you baby.”

But don’t let the unabashed directness — even Tweedy admits it may appear cheesy at first  — of this opening track deter you from taking the album seriously.

Immediately after “Wilco (the song)” fades out, the heartbeat of “Deeper Down” steadily fades in with the crash of a cymbal.  This song is more subtle and serves as a reminder that the band has not lost its flair for more experimental fare, even after its flirtation with the more straightforward songwriting and jam band mentalities present on 2007’s Sky Blue Sky.  Aside from the standard acoustic and electric guitars, bass, and drums, this track also incorporates lap steel (which is becoming a standard Wilco instrument, particularly since the arrival of Nels Cline), loops, harpsichord, Mellotron cello and vibraphone, bowed piano (go ahead: look up “bowed piano” — it’s wild…), synthesizer, and cimbalom.  Based on the list of instrumental credits alone, it is apparent Wilco is not through with the sonic experiments that have earned them fame throughout their career, ever since the opening moments of “Misunderstood” on 1996’s Being There.

“Deeper Down” also begins to tackle the core subjects covered by the album, namely the uncertainties in both our relationships and personal lives.  As Tweedy sings, “Out beyond the telescope’s pry / Up above the tallest Dutch dope high / He realized / This mystery is his.”  The unknown elements that the singer is concerned with here are not the ones that can be analyzed by using scientific equipment or engaging in a study.  Rather, personal demons and mysteries are on display for examination throughout the song and the album.

As the next verse begins to employ the metaphor of the ocean floor for the depths of the human mind, a creaking sound invokes the image of a deep sea vehicle moving farther and farther down into the watery depths.

This is the one track on the album that is not written solely by Tweedy.  A collaboration with multi-instrumentalist Pat Sansone, “Deeper Down” is the perfect bookend to the album proper.

“One Wing” returns to the lighthearted lyricism of the opening song, the title metaphor of this third track comparing a full relationship to a bird (“We once belonged to a bird”) and the aftermath of a breakup to the separation of those all-important feathery appendages (“One wing will never ever fly, dear / Neither yours nor mine, I fear / We can only wave goodbye”).  Again, this type of songwriting may seem worthy of a dismissal at first, but it works in context here.

The fourth track is anything but lighthearted.  Told from the manic perspective of one who has just committed murder (online sources suggest the victim was the narrator’s girlfriend), “Bull Black Nova” is the sonic standout here, being easily the most experimental track on the album.  Spin‘s review of the album suggests that this song is out of place in what is largely a body of traditionally arranged songs, but this is not the case.  After all, what will drive a person to killing another — particularly a loved one — is perhaps the greatest human mystery of all.

Driven by a steady beat and arrangement of electric guitars, this track fittingly evokes the mental hysteria of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart.”  Indeed, the mystery dealt with in this song is perhaps best described as how one might handle the aftermath of having committed such a heinous crime.

The first of two acoustic masterpieces, “You and I” prominently features the first duet to be included on a Wilco album.  Accompanied by Leslie Feist, Tweedy presents this moving track with a fittingly subdued instrumental performance by the other members of the band.  Moreover, this song advances the motif of the album.  As Tweedy and Feist sing, “Oh, I don’t need to know / Everything about you / Oh, I don’t want to know / And you don’t need to know / That much about me.”  This song considers the reality that two people may still be strangers, regardless of how close they become.  While that may sound negative, it is turned around in the song as a positive and natural element of any relationship.

Tweedy later goes it alone on “Solitaire,” the eighth track.  This is another acoustic gem highlighted by Tweedy’s understated but heartfelt double-tracked vocals.  Lyrically, this is the perfect example of a simple but powerfully written song.  (Click here to see the Laptop Session this song inspired.)

“You Never Know” is the first single; it comes halfway through the album, proving that Wilco was only warming up.  This song nicely features all of the elements that make this an excellent band: Tweedy’s vocals, Cline’s lead guitar, Sansone’s piano,  Jorgensen’s organ, and the typically strong bass and drums of Stirratt and Kotche, respectively.  What stands out about this track is that it is clearly Wilco in sound and style, yet, as several other reviews have noted, the stylistic touches are strongly reminiscent of one of the best songwriter/guitarists of all time: George Harrison.  It is nearly impossible to listen to “You Never Know” and not hear Harrison’s characteristic flourishes in the mix.  In a recent interview, Tweedy suggested that the similarities were not planned, but that he was pleased to offer an homage.

No other journalist has pointed out that the Hammond organ stylings on “You and I” sound like a reference to Bob Dylan’s “I Believe In You,” so I’ll just throw that one out there, too…

The second half of the album is equally as strong as the first.  “I’ll Fight” (a standout track) and “Sonny Feeling” (highlighted by Cline’s lap steel guitar licks) are a powerful combination, occupying the ninth and tenth slots on the album.  The former is a statement of purpose, evoking Biblical references to drive the point home.  The latter evades an entirely concrete interpretation, but it is clear that the song centers around a pivotal experience in a high school student’s life.  The middle is perhaps the strongest section of this song, as Tweedy sings, “You know it’s true / The other shoe / It waits for you / What can you do? / Remember to show gratitude / The darkest night is nothing new.”

In addition to the aforementioned “Solitaire,” the true highlights of the second half are certainly the two acoustic-based songs “Country Disappeared” and “Everlasting Everything.”  “Country Disappeared” is just about as political as you’ll hear Wilco (in song at least), but it is still best described as poetic and personal.  If “Deeper Down” is a fitting thematic bookend at the opening of the album, then “Everlasting Everything” is the ideal closer.  As Tweedy sings, “Oh I know this might sound sad / But everything goes, both the good and the bad / So it all adds up, and you should be glad / Everlasting love is all you had.”  This is apparently what is to be found after digging “deeper down,” namely the realization that a life driven by love is worthwhile.  With this, Wilco (the album) turns out to be perhaps the most positive release in the Wilco catalog.

As “Everlasting Everything” fades out and “Wilco (the song)” thunders in, listeners will find it difficult to pop the CD out of the player or change the selection on the iPod.  And this is just as a great album should be.  Is Wilco (the album) the perfect record, or even a masterpiece?  The answer is undoubtedly in the negative.  And yet there is something compelling, soothing, passionate, and masterful about it.

This is the story of a band putting out a strong seventh release, continuing to impress after an already impressive career.

“Solitaire” by Wilco – Chords, Tabs, & How to Play

Originally posted 2009-06-29 09:24:14. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

For the acoustic cover song music video, CLICK HERE!


(Capo I)

Intro:   E    F#m7    E    F#m7    E

Once I thought the world was crazy,
Everyone was sad and chasing
Happiness and love and
I was the only one above it.

Once I thought, without a doubt,
I had it all figured out.
Universe with hands unseen;
I was cold as gasoline.

E      G               F#m7
Took too long to see
F#m7   C               F#m7              E              F#m7    E    F#m7    E
I was   wrong to believe in me only…

Once my life was a game so unfair
It beat me down and kept me there.
Unaware of my naysaying,
F#m7                                              E
Solitaire was all I was playing.

INSTRUMENTAL:   G    F#m7    C    F#m7  (x3)

Took too long to see
I was wrong to believe in me only…

** These chords and lyrics are interpretations and transcriptions, respectively, and are the sole property of the copyright holder(s). They are posted on this website free of charge for no profit for the purpose of study and commentary, as allowed for under the “fair use” provision of U.S. copyright law, and should only be used for such personal and/or academic work. **

The Top Five Rock Artists of the Decade (2000s): NUMBER ONE is Wilco

This is the final in a five part series dedicated to the top five rock artists of the decade, 2000-2009. The criteria used to determine this list were: (1) Quality of Music, (2) Quantity of Released Material, (3) Diversity of Media, and (4) Roles of Artists/Band Members. There was stiff competition, but here goes…

By Chris Moore:

And coming in at number one on our Top Rock Artists of the Decade list are none other than Jeff Tweedy, John Stirratt, Glen Kotche, Nels Cline, Mikael Jorgensen, and Pat Sansone…

…better known as Wilco!

Before I get to writin’ below, I would be remiss if I didn’t note just how close a battle it was between this band and my pick for number two, the Barenaked Ladies. Now, I know what you might be thinking. The Barenaked Ladies and Wilco referenced so closely? Well, the truth is that they have both distinguished themselves as prolific writers, performers, and album-makers in a decade when more and more people are allowing those oh-so-frustrating, defeatist sentiments:

They just don’t make music like they used to…

There really isn’t any band making great music/albums anymore…

Well, it’s simply not true!

Wilco had to take the top spot on this list for a number of reasons, not the least of which being what a memorable decade this was for the band. It was, after all, the ten year span that kicked off with them being kicked from their label after the Yankee Hotel Foxtrot sessions, the release of which would go on to skyrocket them as close to the mainstream as they’ll probably ever come.

You know what they say: out of the alt country genre dead-end and into the fire. (Isn’t that what they say?)

Several key personnel changes at the turn of the millennium notwithstanding, Wilco’s lineup stabilized by A Ghost is Born, and they have since created some of the most interesting and engaging rock music available — certainly of this decade, and very likely of all time.

While internet-fueled music piracy was threatening the entire system by which the industry functions, Wilco was busy pioneering new ways to reach fans. They were among the first to stream an album online for free. They signed on for the return of vinyl. They supported numerous causes, brought lost music by historic singer/songwriters (namely Woody Guthrie) back to life, put on marathon-length live shows of the finest quality, and engaged in myriad side projects.

Wilco has not rested these past ten years, and anyone who has been listening knows it is not an exaggeration to say that this decade has seen the band hit its stride and perhaps its peak.

You Have To Lose…

It may have been 2001, but the story of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot calls to mind the pages of rock music history that involved such trendsetters and iconoclasts as Bob Dylan, Brian Wilson, and the Beatles. Taking the music itself — the genre, the style, the arrangements — out of the equation for the moment, the difference of opinion between the executives at Reprise Records and the members of Wilco was an old story: band makes music it feels is honest and A&R men see only dollar signs.

As a result of Reprise’s treatment of the band, Wilco ended up gaining the sympathy and interests of many fans, critics, and music magazines. After the label rejected the album, they didn’t waste any time going to plan B, posting the album in its entirety on their website for free streaming. It would be until 2002 before Nonesuch (ironically a sister company of Reprise) signed Wilco and finally released the album properly.

Fittingly, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is the first great Wilco album. Its simple songs and ambitious arrangements redefined their sound, and there couldn’t have been a better album for this publicity boost to happen to.

Experimenting, Jamming, and Blending

On the heels of Foxtrot, Wilco took an even more experimental turn with A Ghost is Born. Some tracks were tremendous achievements — “Spiders (Kidsmoke)” and “Hell is Chrome,” for instance — and others were overly self-indulgent, namely “Less Than You Think” and its eleven minutes of feedback loops.

Tweedy himself admitted that it simply isn’t a track that even he would listen to every time around.

For their next project, Sky Blue Sky, the band altered the formula, leaning more towards a live band feel.  The result?  Some of their most fun rock songs, such as “Hate It Here” and “Walken.”  Thankfully, this did not lead to a breakdown in their cohesion or a “jam band” mentality.  As one might expect from Wilco’s previous releases, even the guitar solos in such tracks as “Impossible Germany” are impressively choreographed.

This is where Nels Cline’s outstanding talent really began to shine through on record.

Following two years of touring in support of Sky Blue Sky, and as if three strong albums in the decade weren’t enough, Tweedy and company released Wilco (the album) in 2009.  As the title might imply, this record finds Wilco really settling in, blending the various sounds and styles they perfected throughout the decade into one superb effort.  While it certainly isn’t their strongest individual project, Wilco (the album) is one of the most dynamic in their catalog, featuring the experimental “Deeper Down” and the oh-so blunt “Wilco (the song).”  The former would have blended smoothly into A Ghost is Born, and the latter reads like a direct, personal letter from Jeff Tweedy and Wilco to their fans.

On and On and On…

As I suggested in my “Number Two” article on the Barenaked Ladies, this number of quality studio albums would be, in and of itself, criteria for a band to be considered one of the best of the decade.  Like BnL, Wilco has been prolific beyond these standard releases.  This includes Mermaid Avenue Vol. II (2000), the second installment in their collaboration with Billy Bragg putting Woody Guthrie lyrics to music.  2005 saw the release of Kicking Television: Live in Chicago, Wilco’s first live record, a double CD with 23 tracks.  Four years later, they released their first live DVD, Ashes of American Flags, which featured a song selection that was more than 50% different from Kicking Television.

Outside of official full-band projects, the members of Wilco are constantly involved in other projects, including but not limited to Tweedy in Golden Smog, Stirratt and Sansone in The Autumn Defense, and Nels Cline in The Nels Cline Singers.  In 2003, R.E.M.’s Peter Buck invited members of Wilco to contribute to his own side project, the Minus Five, and the result was Down with Wilco.  In 2009, several members traveled to New Zealand to play on the latest Seven Worlds Collide charity project.

And the list goes on and on and on.

Since 2003’s More Like the Moon, Wilco has made a habit of releasing EPs to accompany their official album releases, offering them as free downloads to those who have purchased the CD (or downloaded the album legally).  2004 saw the release of The Wilco Book, which was packaged with a CD loaded with demos and outtakes.  Adding to the interactive quality of their music, the band now gives out free full-color programs at their live shows, booklets which include a score card listing all of their songs for their fans to check off as they are played.

To think that I promised myself I would avoid listing too many details…

I think the aforementioned details paint an indisputable portrait of a band always pushing themselves to the next level, each of the six members constantly involved with music both in the band and in their side projects, and a group of singer/songwriter/performers dedicated to making their music and their process transparent for their fans.  On record as they are live — and at the risk of overstatement — Wilco is a dynamic group whose music has seen me through some of the darkest chapters of my life (and safely out into the light again!) and a band that continues to inspire me as a songwriter and as a listener.

Wilco is my choice for the number one rock band of the decade!