Sky Blue Sky has taught me an important lesson: Knee-jerk reactions are just that, my own included.
I was pretty quick to jump on the Wilco bashing when I heard the first few leaked tracks. Then I bought a vinyl copy (180-gram, free CD included!), and it’s about the only album I’ve listened to consistently the past few weeks.
Looking back, I did the same with Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, thinking it was a little too weird for me. And now we’re turning our backs on Jeff Tweedy for being a little too … well, normal. If nothing else, Sky Blue Sky deserved a more patient listen, more time.
Granted, some of the lyrics are goofy (“I trust no emotion/I believe in locomotion” and just about all of Hate it Here) and Glenn Kotche is terribly underutilized as a percussionist (listen to I Am Trying to Break Your Heart to hear the difference). Yet there’s a striking sense of clarity on the record. At first, I was worried Nels Cline’s lovemaking to his guitar would weigh down the record. But I’ve even grown to appreciate a little extended solo. (The solo on Impossible Germany “is tits,” was how a friend put it.)
If Yankee Hotel was a complicated listen for its weird tendencies, then Sky Blue Sky is just as compelling for its cleaned-up edges. I like Jeff Tweedy’s versatility. I like that probably a lot of people expected another record in the vein of Yankee Hotel and A Ghost is Born. And that Sky Blue Sky’s almost disarming normalcy causes such unease. So Tweedy’s so-called passive approach must be at fault here and not our constricted expectations.
Really, listen to it again.
Wilco | You Are My Face