11 Songs, 39 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Coming just weeks after the release of his memoir, Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back), Jeff Tweedy’s proper solo debut, WARM, can’t help but feel a little confessional. Musically, the 11 songs don’t seem markedly different from his 20-plus years leading Wilco, but chronicling his family’s history and his struggles with addiction in the book forced changes in the writing style of an artist whose most acclaimed album opens with the line “I am an American aquarium drinker/I assassin down the avenue.” “My mind has always been inclined to pick out little details and paint around the edges of a scene, so I had to force myself to find the core of the story and paint a picture more clearly,” Tweedy tells Apple Music. “And then I felt like I had to stay in that mindset to write lyrics.” Like the newly minted storyteller he is, he takes us through WARM track by track.

“Bombs Above”
“A person I was in rehab with said this thing to me about suffering. But it kind of predates me really digging in in earnest on the book, so that kind of shoots my theory to s**t.”

“Some Birds”
“This is me trying to be more direct about feeling helpless and not knowing what to do with my anger these days. I hope it doesn’t come off as cynical though. It’s a pretty dark period, but it’s worth the effort to care and to believe. I hope that’s the part of the record that comes through the most.”
“Don’t Forget”
“That song maybe set the tone and laid the groundwork for this more direct approach and has the most direct connection to the book. Early on, the lyrics to that song were more oblique.”
“How Hard It Is for a Desert To Die”
“The things we think of as the most severe and unforgiving environments still have a rich, deep life to them. And some of the worst experiences I’ve had have given my life the most shape and I’ve learned the most from. I think that’s what this is about.”
“Let’s Go Rain”
“I was playing solo acoustic shows and wanted to play some new material. And almost every night, I could get people to sing along with this song they’d never heard. So, if you’re looking for affirmation, that’s pretty great.”
“From Far Away”
“The drums seem so disjointed and unrelated to the song, but it somehow still all holds together. And the lyrics are about the same thing: We all feel pretty separate and different from each other, but the further you zoom out, the more it all holds together.”
“I Know What It’s Like”
“I just didn’t know of another song that used that phrase. It seems almost too obvious, but it’s exactly what I want to say to people who are going through something. At the same time, it’s testing the limits of empathy—nobody really ever knows what somebody else is going through.”
“Having Been Is No Way To Be”
“Peter Ivers had a TV show in the ’80s called New Wave Theatre and was murdered. He had a fascinating career—he wrote that song ‘In Heaven (Lady in the Radiator Song)’ from Eraserhead, he was a harmonica virtuoso and played with Muddy Waters. This started off as me trying to fit a whole bunch of that into a song and then giving up and just making it about myself. That’s more like most of my songs—skirting around the edges of something until something else appears.”
“The Red Brick” and “Warm (When the Sun Has Died)”
“These two songs are both reactions to the same set of circumstances. The first is a more violent reaction and, in my opinion, an unsustainable one. And the second is the way I truly feel: There is an innate hope that it’s not worth my effort to kill.”
“How Will I Find You?”
“I never know where to put longer songs on an album, except either first or last. I was trying to imagine what someone like my father, who believed in an afterlife, would be thinking while looking for my mom, who died before him. If there’s really something like a Heaven the way that most people picture it, this seemed like a really sad and lonely thought.”

EDITORS’ NOTES

Coming just weeks after the release of his memoir, Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back), Jeff Tweedy’s proper solo debut, WARM, can’t help but feel a little confessional. Musically, the 11 songs don’t seem markedly different from his 20-plus years leading Wilco, but chronicling his family’s history and his struggles with addiction in the book forced changes in the writing style of an artist whose most acclaimed album opens with the line “I am an American aquarium drinker/I assassin down the avenue.” “My mind has always been inclined to pick out little details and paint around the edges of a scene, so I had to force myself to find the core of the story and paint a picture more clearly,” Tweedy tells Apple Music. “And then I felt like I had to stay in that mindset to write lyrics.” Like the newly minted storyteller he is, he takes us through WARM track by track.

“Bombs Above”
“A person I was in rehab with said this thing to me about suffering. But it kind of predates me really digging in in earnest on the book, so that kind of shoots my theory to s**t.”

“Some Birds”
“This is me trying to be more direct about feeling helpless and not knowing what to do with my anger these days. I hope it doesn’t come off as cynical though. It’s a pretty dark period, but it’s worth the effort to care and to believe. I hope that’s the part of the record that comes through the most.”
“Don’t Forget”
“That song maybe set the tone and laid the groundwork for this more direct approach and has the most direct connection to the book. Early on, the lyrics to that song were more oblique.”
“How Hard It Is for a Desert To Die”
“The things we think of as the most severe and unforgiving environments still have a rich, deep life to them. And some of the worst experiences I’ve had have given my life the most shape and I’ve learned the most from. I think that’s what this is about.”
“Let’s Go Rain”
“I was playing solo acoustic shows and wanted to play some new material. And almost every night, I could get people to sing along with this song they’d never heard. So, if you’re looking for affirmation, that’s pretty great.”
“From Far Away”
“The drums seem so disjointed and unrelated to the song, but it somehow still all holds together. And the lyrics are about the same thing: We all feel pretty separate and different from each other, but the further you zoom out, the more it all holds together.”
“I Know What It’s Like”
“I just didn’t know of another song that used that phrase. It seems almost too obvious, but it’s exactly what I want to say to people who are going through something. At the same time, it’s testing the limits of empathy—nobody really ever knows what somebody else is going through.”
“Having Been Is No Way To Be”
“Peter Ivers had a TV show in the ’80s called New Wave Theatre and was murdered. He had a fascinating career—he wrote that song ‘In Heaven (Lady in the Radiator Song)’ from Eraserhead, he was a harmonica virtuoso and played with Muddy Waters. This started off as me trying to fit a whole bunch of that into a song and then giving up and just making it about myself. That’s more like most of my songs—skirting around the edges of something until something else appears.”
“The Red Brick” and “Warm (When the Sun Has Died)”
“These two songs are both reactions to the same set of circumstances. The first is a more violent reaction and, in my opinion, an unsustainable one. And the second is the way I truly feel: There is an innate hope that it’s not worth my effort to kill.”
“How Will I Find You?”
“I never know where to put longer songs on an album, except either first or last. I was trying to imagine what someone like my father, who believed in an afterlife, would be thinking while looking for my mom, who died before him. If there’s really something like a Heaven the way that most people picture it, this seemed like a really sad and lonely thought.”

TITLE TIME

About Jeff Tweedy

Jeff Tweedy first rose to prominence with Uncle Tupelo in the late '80s and early '90s, but with his own group, Wilco, he would step out from the shadow of that legendary alt-country group and his former partner, Jay Farrar, becoming a major figure in Americana, indie rock, and contemporary folk with his eclectic body of work.

Belleville, Illinois high school friends Tweedy and Farrar started Uncle Tupelo as the Primitives in St. Louis in the mid-'80s. After a run of four albums (including their seminal debut, No Depression), Farrar abruptly quit in 1994 and started Son Volt, who continued Tupelo's spirit of moody and rousing ruralism. Tweedy and the remaining Tupelo members picked up as Wilco. With that group, Tweedy would permanently lay to rest the impression that Farrar had been the sole dark genius of Uncle Tupelo. (In fact, one theory holds that Farrar disintegrated the group because he was threatened by Tweedy's burgeoning creative role.) Wilco's first album, A.M. (1995), seemed designed to please the Uncle Tupelo audience. However, the following two-disc Being There (1996), a sprawling achievement that garnered comparisons to the Rolling Stones' Exile on Main Street, and the experimental but pop-oriented Summerteeth (1999) would establish Tweedy as a distinct and formidable force in popular music.

Tweedy has also been part of Golden Smog, an all-star collective who has included members of the Jayhawks, Soul Asylum, and Big Star; appeared on the Handsome Family album Through the Trees; and also appeared on Blue Rodeo leader Jim Cuddy's solo debut, All in Time. In addition, Wilco collaborated with Billy Bragg on the two Mermaid Avenue albums, which set music to the lost lyrics of Woody Guthrie. In 2000 and 2001, Tweedy undertook a series of solo acoustic shows and formed a side group with Jim O'Rourke and Glenn Kotche, Loose Fur, before settling in to work on the next Wilco album. Unfortunately, Wilco found themselves without a label when Reprise Records rejected their album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, though they opted to tour in spite of this situation. After streaming the album for fans on Wilco's website, Nonesuch stepped in and gave Yankee Hotel Foxtrot an early 2002 release, and the album became a critical and commercial success. That same year, Tweedy wrote and recorded some solo material for Ethan Hawke's film Chelsea Walls, which became the backbone of movie's soundtrack album.

During his downtime with Wilco, Tweedy worked in the studio with the Minus 5, Beck, and Charlie Louvin, while serving as producer on recordings by Mavis Staples and Low, and he released a live album in 2006 drawn from a live performance, Sunken Treasure: Live in the Pacific Northwest. In 2013, Tweedy began writing and recording songs for a solo project which became a family affair when his teenage son, Spencer Tweedy, began playing drums on the sessions. The father/son band adopted the name Tweedy, and their debut album, Sukierae, was released in 2014, the same year Wilco released a pair of archival albums and played residencies in several cities to celebrate their 20th anniversary. In June 2017, Tweedy presented his first proper solo album, Together at Last, consisting of acoustic reworkings of 11 songs from his back catalog. ~ Erik Hage & Mark Deming

HOMETOWN
Belleville, IL
GENRE
Rock
BORN
August 26, 1967

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