Today’s song brings me to one of the most significant songs in recent memory; this song takes me up to the last couple of years when I felt that I made something of myself and decidedly became the young adult that I theorize I will be until maturity creeps in and stops the quirky madness of youth.
Wilco is a band I’ve come to love over the course of about five years. I picked up their eponymous record, “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” in late 2005 after discovering independent music and hearing rumblings of this record being the MOST quintessential, MUST-own record in my ‘circle’. I picked it up, never connected with the weird noises and over-bloated production and save for the now-infamous heartbreaker, “Jesus, Etc.”, I shelved this record.
Wilco – Theologians
I gave Wilco another chance in 2007 with their folksier, friendlier “Sky Blue Sky” – I liked this record and stuck with it for a summer fling, alongside what I view as its two ‘sister records’, the trio of rehab comebacks, Josh Rouse’s “City Mouse, Country House” and Ryan Adams’ “Easy Tiger”.
Fast-forward to the worst summer ever, 2008 when I was alone and ponderous and picked up what was rumoured to be Wilco’s most alienating, intense record, “A Ghost is Born” – the cover itself is alienating – an egg on a white background without text, explanation or correlation, really except to the vagueness of the album title’s poetics. What I thought however, would be a geometric, experimental film of a record turned out to be one of my most emotionally-affecting life records EVER. And what I drew MOST from this affirmative listening experience was “Theologians”, a vulnerable melodic song with Tweedy’s typically w-t-f lyrics (“I’m a motion, I’m all emotion, I’m a cherry ghost”) but also a concern with religion and its connections with our daily waking lives, and a separation from these aspects of spirituality while at the same time drawing them closer into the realm of mortality.
Typically, I discover and connect with records while on walks. There’s always that ONE song that propels me forward into enjoying the other jigsaw pieces of a record, such was the case with Wilco’s “Ghost”; I came to love all of its songs but “Theologians” never left my emotional side. I think of it whenever I think of people and places and memories of that time of my life when I was small and unknowing, vulnerable and desperate and engaging in classic heart errors. It remains as a reminder of a cursed year, and hope that the transcendent power of music will see me through even the grandest and most painful of all those errors.