By now, Jay Bennett has been eulogized enough that you hardly need another written remembrance. To be honest, as astonishing/sad as it was to watch the news spread over social networks – especially Twitter – in a matter of minutes, I’m always appalled at how some people can turn the news of death into some trumped-up cry for attention, this odd compulsion to justify sorrow in 140 or fewer characters. Unless you knew him, pay your respects from afar and move on.
So in an attempt to follow my own advice, I won’t belabor the point here. Surely, I’m like most Wilco fans. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and Summerteeth rank as my favorite albums by the band, both with Bennett’s fingerprints all over them. Even after watching the documentary I Am Trying to Break Your Heart several times, I never was completely comfortable picking sides in the Bennett vs. Jeff Tweedy flap. Though Bennett’s recent lawsuit against Tweedy painted him as desperate and exploitative – at least that’s how Pitchfork’s unprofessional editorializing made it sound – there’s just no telling, really. In a way, I feel bad for Tweedy, a broken relationship now never to be repaired.
While I never quite warmed up to Bennett’s solo material, his contributions to Wilco are countless (and probably more valuable than we would know). Poor Places, from Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, is one of my favorites.