Thursday, June 15, 2006

Jesus, Etc


Jesus, Etc.

This song by Wilco is beautiful and sombre; it's uplifted and innocent. Like a kinder-garden kid who painted a picture, and then placed it on the fridge with his favourite Ben & Jerry's fridge-magnet. The picture was surrealist; cheap paint on thick paper - dispersed unevenly, dispersed joyfully. The picture was of a baby; no, not a baby. The picture was nothing more than a crescent; highly visible - luminous even - in the flourescent pink and green he'd chose. You might say it looked like the moon but it didn't. What it did look like was a frown. And the boy turned it upside down to make a smile. And he smiled at what he'd done.

But this song isn't childish: like I said, it's beautiful. It's chirping from the start. You turn to your lover and you tell her you love her. You make these rhymes that sound silly on paper, but charming and alluring wrapped up in melodies. And who can't relate to the line, "last cigarettes are all you can get, turning your orbit around", apart from non-smokers? [yes, I realise the silliness of my point. but a fact is still a fact.]

I guess I don't have a point other than this: I can relate to it. I think it's beautiful. I've said beautiful lots and lots of times, and that's because it's true. It's got a country twang, an indie intelligence, a lyrical flawlessness and a strong focus on melody. It hasn't been on that many blogs, and it's a shame. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was lauded, and I mean, lauded by Pitchfork - it was one of those rarities: the album that managed to get all 10.0 points... It's why I bought it in the first place. And it seemed a bit weird, at the time, considering I was thirteen.

I ripped open the packaging and put the album in the CD player, waiting to be blown away instantly. But I wasn't. There was lots of seemingly useless noise scattered around the mix. I know now I was missing the point - I think I knew then - because albums - the truly touching/amazing/intriguing ones - take their time to grow. And what I also realised straight away - upon the first notes of this song - was that when they did away with the pretension and the experimentation, Wilco still managed to come out with an absolutely amazing song. And the song is neither complex nor exceedingly simple - just perfect in its innocent execution, like the kid who paints a frown and turns it upside down. The two states are interchangeable, he thinks, when he looks back on it now.

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