Manual Wilco: Learning How to Die

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Would also be nice to see an unbiased account of the early years of Uncle Tupelo i. Jul 07, matt rated it really liked it Recommends it for: For the days it took me to get through this, I found myself compelled to read more. Tracing the steps from the good ol' Uncle Tupelo days to the baby steps of 's A Ghost is Born, Kot gives a nice overview of the story up until that point. That being said, so much has happened in the saga since its hard to leave off just when Tweedy went into rehab at the beginning of Hindsight being what it is, it's funny to see whether the band's lineup could ever match the Jay Bennett-helmed Summ For the days it took me to get through this, I found myself compelled to read more.

Hindsight being what it is, it's funny to see whether the band's lineup could ever match the Jay Bennett-helmed Summerteeth crew. Well today's Wilco with Nels Cline and Glenn Kotche are infinitely more competent and putting out music just as good. Its funny to see how many people continue to grown as Wilco release albums but eventually catch up years down the line. With the recent release of "Sky Blue Sky," the majority of the press has been praising the merits of "A Ghost is Born.

Narrso or not, one thing is for sure: Sep 01, Stephen rated it it was amazing. People that know me will look at my 5 star rating of this book and say something close to, "Of course he gave it 5 stars, he is a Wilco freak". While Sam Jones' film, I am Trying to Break Your Heart, shows Wilco during that now infamous time period of turmoil, "Learning How to Die" tells the musical story of Jeff Tweedy beginning just previous to his time in Uncle Tupelo, and ending with People that know me will look at my 5 star rating of this book and say something close to, "Of course he gave it 5 stars, he is a Wilco freak".

It is the closest a fan can get to their story without having actually being a part of it. May 18, Jason rated it really liked it. Okay, I'm still sticking to my Jay Farrar is better guns, but this has helped me develop a respect for Wilco that was dubious at best before I got my hands on this book Jan 16, Ian rated it liked it Shelves: It was great reading this for all of the history, but Greg Kot should stay away from writing books.

It might work for music reviews in the Chicago Tribune where he's the music writer , but his style gets seriously tired and trite-sounding the more you read. I still liked it. Also, my great-uncle lives in the same little town Jeff Tweedy was born in. I am a Wilco fan so it was a 5 for me. If you are not a Wilco or Uncle Tupelo fan, then a 3.

Kot is a very good rock critic. He knows his stuff. I have heard him on his Sound Opinions podcast many times. This book is mostly a mini biography on Tweedy up to Kot covers Farrar and the Uncle Tupelo years in good detail. He covers Tweedy's transition to Wilco. Kot does a great job in describing the growth Tweedy's music goes through.

The evolution is impressive. My experience was greatly enhanced by listening to the Uncle Tupelo and Wilco albums on Spotify while Kot described then. Lots of ink on band members including Bennett. I will say it is a must read for Tweedy fans. Kot knows his music. He just has to republish the book after covering the last 14 years. Jul 24, Troy Hanson rated it it was amazing. Extremely well-written biography of the rock band Wilco up through the release of Sky Blue Sky. It's a tale of a rising star who breaks away from his original band, Uncle Tupelo, to forge his own path.

Jay Bennett: Learning how to die - Washington Times

The story includes the many band relationships that get sacrificed along the road to success, all in the name of "art. It's as if he's outgrown their usefulnes Extremely well-written biography of the rock band Wilco up through the release of Sky Blue Sky. It's as if he's outgrown their usefulness, so he leaves them by the roadside as the caravan travels on.

In that respect it's a very interesting story about loyalty to one's bandmates v. An underlying theme is the story of how the record industry changes as it moves into the internet age and deals with de-regulation corporate consolidation and how one band was affected by those changes. Mar 12, D. I particularly liked the overview of Uncle Tupelo's early days, which I didn't know much about.

Tweedy comes across as a bit of a dreamer, who is constantly following his personal muse, no matter what happens to those around him. There's not much in terms of "tell-all" journalism here, but Kot certainly did his homework, and seems to have interviewed just about everyone involved in Tweedy's musical career.

It focuses strictly on Tweedy, warts and all. Aug 30, Brian Kovesci rated it liked it Shelves: I know, shots fired. Having said that, the band has always intrigued me. Their inconsistency between albums has always bothered me, so it was nice to learn I that my observation is justified.

Aug 01, Steve rated it it was amazing. I've read this before, a good number of years ago by now, but I very much enjoy both the book and the band it chronicles. Finishing this makes me want to go and re-watch the Sam Jones documentary on the making of "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Oct 01, Mark rated it it was amazing Shelves: Amazing how much history can be uncovered on bands that were so non-mainstream, especially mostly pre-internet. Crazy that this book leaves off 15 years ago before A Ghost is Born.

Would love to see a volume 2 and see what's been happening since. Nov 20, Josh Duggan rated it really liked it. Obviously one is probably going to be a Wilco fan if he or she is going to dive into this book. As one who could be qualified as such, the book is pretty damn pleasing. For those of you whom the author's name does not ring a bell, Greg Kot is the co-host of music talk show, Sound Opinions, and the music critic at the Chicago Tribune. If you are familiar with his work, then you would not be shocked to find that Wilco: Learning How To Die is a thoughtful look at Wilco as one of the bands that spra Obviously one is probably going to be a Wilco fan if he or she is going to dive into this book.

Learning How To Die is a thoughtful look at Wilco as one of the bands that sprang forth from the ashes of Uncle Tupelo to become one of the most critically acclaimed rock bands of this past decade. It is interesting to see the portrait painted of the unsure young Jeff Tweedy, and the elucidation of the dynamic between Tweedy and Farrar helps to frame the earlier Wilco releases, especially A.


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From there, Kot works through the demise of Uncle Tupelo and through the early years of Wilco, showing Tweedy in many shades, not all of them flattering. Flattering or not, though, Tweedy the Figure is a compelling one, and this makes for an interesting character study of sorts. Now most Wilco fans have seen the Sam Jones documentary I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, and as such already have a pretty strong working knowledge as to what went into the recording of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, one could reasonably make the leap and assume that the last 50 or 60 pages of the book would be re-covering familiar ground.

Fortunately, Learning How To Die actually brings a little clarity to what had been a somewhat surprising and glossed over departure of a key figure in Wilco's rise, Jay Bennett. In the film, Bennett is suddenly at odds with Jeff Tweedy in the mixing stages, and then he's out of the band.

Review: ‘Wilco: Learning How to Die’

Kot's painstaking work shows that Bennett had kind of been losing it in the studio, and that much of what Jim O'Rourke has been accused of doing by Wilco alt-country purists was actually off base. Bennett had been layering track upon track upon track of material in the studio, and O'Rourke helped Tweedy strip down Yankee Hotel Foxtrot to its bare essentials.

The rest of the band's relief at Bennett's dismissal is also driven home. Learning How To Die is a very quick read, and one that any serious Wilco fan should read, as Kot works in more than his fair share of music criticism, which is obviously his bread and butter. His countless hours of interviewing and seemingly boundless access to the band make for an absurdly candid look at the band, warts and all. Originally reviewed at http: Jan 28, Michaela rated it really liked it. I can't believe I waited four years to read this book.

If you like the band but don't love them, you won't find this very interesting. But if you're even mildly obsessed, you have to get a copy. Of course, the great material is really the information contained in this book, not necessarily its writing style. It's well-researched though, and full of affection for the band and the music.

Some of the writing about the songs in particular is very good- it makes you appreciate how difficult it must b I can't believe I waited four years to read this book. Some of the writing about the songs in particular is very good- it makes you appreciate how difficult it must be to write about music of all things. And much of it made me go back and listen to the songs again as I was reading about their creation. I don't know how I could have read this without an iPod.

I'd be sitting on the bus, reading about "Pieholden Suite" or something, and I'd get out my iPod and listen to it. I'm glad that I'm old enough to appreciate how awesome that is. I wish that the author had aimed just a little higher with his level of writing- it reads a little bit like a very long Entertainment Weekly article.

I didn't pick this book up to be blow away by the writing. It would be great if the author came out with another edition down the road- fans deserve an explanation or two still about the whole Volkswagen commercial thing. So I just don't listen to those songs much. I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who feels that way.

Some of the things you learn in this are pretty disenchanting too. Some of it is also a little elitist. You almost get the feeling that you're not supposed to love Uncle Tupelo or even early Wilco material as much as you love the new stuff, and that you're a van-driving, flannel-loving idiot if you do.

I will be honest and admit that I didn't love Yankee Hotel Foxtrot that much I still don't and that I am I'm sorry one of those fans who would love it if they would play "Passenger Side" more often.


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  8. I'd highly recommend banishing your feelings of nerdiness and picking this up if you're any kind of Wilco fan. Jun 06, Anna rated it it was amazing Shelves: I can't believe it took me so long to get to this. They've put out, what, 4 or 5 albums since this? I am a disgrace of a diehard fan. And would only recommend for the diehard fan. They have been successful in spite of radio--a testament to talent winning for once. Maybe because they weren't greedy and didn't want to be on the radio. Short set being part of Dylan's Americanarama thing but so worth it.

    They really jammed, t I can't believe it took me so long to get to this. They really jammed, too, which I don't remember seeing before. But it's been a while, and this time I was right in front of the stage. To me live music is better than any drug I can imagine. And Wilco, well, I can listen to them a lot. Maybe because I was listening to Uncle Tupelo and then Son Volt and still love all the alt-country stuff, but by "Summerteeth," and seeing that tour twice in , I was a goner.

    The evolution has been amazing. Anyway, another book covering the past 10 plus years would be great. Can't wait until they tour as headliner again. So play Wilco or UT while you read, too! Aug 04, Michaela rated it liked it. But there used to be some equity between the real music lovers at the labels and the corporate guys. This balance of power shifted by , and major labels will probably never recover any semblance of integrity. Unless they get tricked into it.

    This book also tells that story. Greg Kot hopes that if someone were to stumble across his book 20 years from now, they would feel like they got a glimpse of what was happening in American culture at the time. Sometimes Learning How to Die reads like an oral biography.


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    There are lots of quotes, and Kot is not afraid to step back and allow the participants to tell their story. Kot told me he really wanted this book to have a beginning, a middle and an ending. The book contains some great details that even the most obsessed Wilco fan could not have known. I became a huge Uncle Tupelo fan after the band had already broken up, so it was great to hear the full story of how they began, and how they worked as a band, and eventually how and why they split up.

    I told Greg Kot that it seemed like a fair portrayal. I appreciate the comment about the fairness because I did well over 50 interviews for this book and every anecdote, every story in this book has been confirmed by at least two people. Did [Wilco manager] Tony Margherita give his stamp of approval on this? I was going to write a book one way or another.

    I was on the phone literally every day during that month and a half when that stuff was going down with somebody at Warner Brothers or somebody in Wilco. And I knew then that I had more than enough material not only for this magazine piece I was working on for the Tribune but for a book. What I wanted to do was take the book back further and get the full scope of the story.

    And everybody understood this is where I was coming from. I rode out with Tony [Marherita] to see the end of the first leg of that Wilco tour. And we rode out to St.

    Dust - (Hard Attack) 4. Learning To Die

    Louis together and I got five hours of me and Tony talking on tape. And another five hours on the ride back. So I had the guy who was with Jeff from the record store in St. I got good access. They cooperated in that they allowed me to interview them. And for the most part they were incredibly cooperative. They knew that from the start.

    Those are the same terms the movie, I Am Trying to Break Your Heart , started out with, but that ended up a lot more fanboyish. Particularly with the Jay Bennett firing. I think Sam [Jones, director] did a great job. That was the best part. Not that Sam was trying to tar and feather somebody but he obviously had an incredible moment on screen here. My favorite chapter in the book is the one with the Howie Klein interviews. As a cynical music fan who thinks the major labels are self-destructing, it was fascinating to hear a former high-level record executive confirm my beliefs.

    They all have their own little layers that you have to cut through. This guy had some cool credentials. Warner Brothers for a long time had some real music lovers running that company. They were a huge, successful company…. Joe McKuen, the guy who signed them, really loved Uncle Tupelo and when Son Volt and Wilco broke into two camps, he managed to find places for both those bands in the Warner Brothers empire. He finessed that, and that was not an easy thing to do. And Warner Brothers bought the fact that Jeff Tweedy could make a double cd on his second record.

    Think of that happening today. A band on its second record after selling , copies of its first decides it wants to make a double cd. No frigging way is that going to happen. And I really think that Warner Brother is the last of that era of record execs. Literally, Wilco saw that era die under their watch. Those guys started to fade away and the corporate guys took over. Do you think it will ever change? Will it ever go back, or is it up to indie labels? They want these pliable pop star celebrities that they can crossmarket and make multimillions off of.

    I think the whole idea of artist development at a major label level is dead for the foreseeable future. And that opens things up beautifully for the indies right now. And a band like the Shins can be superstars, sell out shows all over the country, sell , records. The Postal Service, those are the kind of bands that people really, really care about passionately.

    What was so weird? Well, I brought it all back to this: Anybody who has any questions about what was going on here, listen to that album. I was writing a book about music and culture and as their private lives overlapped with music and culture, it was going to be in the book. That all got destroyed on that tour. I got it all. At some point, it was like, this is just a tawdry, sub-VH1, typical rockstar biography. Frankly, it just got a little bit tawdry and not that interesting to me. After a while, they start to blur together. At the end of the day, what purpose am I serving by dredging out every little indiscretion?