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Learning How to Die

This book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device, and with iTunes on your computer. Books can be read with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


The intimate story of one of the great American bands of our time, creators of the controversial masterpiece Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

When alt-country heroes-turned-rock-iconoclasts Wilco handed in their fourth album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, to the band’s label, Reprise, a division of Warner Brothers, fans looked forward to the release of another challenging, genre-bending departure from their previous work. The band aimed to build on previous sales and critical acclaim with its boldest and most ambitious album yet, but was instead urged by skittish Reprise execs to make the record more “radio friendly.” When Wilco wouldn’t give, they found themselves without a label. Instead, they used the Internet to introduce the album to their fans, and eventually sold the record to Nonesuch, another division of Warner. Wilco was vindicated when the album debuted at No. 13 on the Billboard charts and posted the band’s strongest sales to date.

Wilco: Learning How to Die traces the band’s story to its deepest origins in Southern Illinois, where Jeff Tweedy began growing into one of the best songwriters of his generation. As we witness how his music grew from its punk and alt-country origins, some of the key issues and questions in our culture are addressed: How is music of substance created while the gulf between art and commerce widens in the corporate consolidation era? How does the music industry make or break a hit? How do working musicians reconcile the rewards of artistic risk with the toll it exacts on their personal life?

This book was written with the cooperation of Wilco band members past and present.  It is also fully up to date, covering the latest changes in personnel and the imminent release of the band’s fifth album, A Ghost Is Born, sure to be one of the most talked-about albums of 2004.

From Publishers Weekly

May 24, 2004 – Chicago Tribune writer Kot deftly explores the career, music and cult phenomenon of the '90s rootsy alt-country rock band Wilco. The Chicago-based Wilco has earned a loyal, passionate underground following through heavy touring and the honest, emotionally charged songwriting of front man Jeff Tweedy, who originally played bass in Uncle Tupelo. Despite Wilco's critical success and growing fan base, the histrionics of Tweedy's early career endured, culminating with the painful breakdown of communication between Tweedy and Wilco band mate Jay Bennett, which led to Bennett's firing and the bizarre circumstances surrounding the release of Yankee Foxtrot Hotel, in 2002. Unsatisfied with what it saw as an indulgent, hitless effort, Warner Bros.' subsidiary Reprise rejected the record upon delivery. Rather than re-record a more radio-friendly version, Wilco gave the record away on the Internet. That strategy led to a deal with another Warner Bros. subsidiary, Nonesuch, which released the record and sold over 400,000 copies, the band's biggest commercial success to date. Well researched and filled with primary interviews, Kot's book is probing and insightful. In chronicling Wilco, Kot also lays bare the stresses of the musician's life, the vagaries of the business, and the very essence of what makes for good music and a vibrant music scene. Wilco fans will love this book, but Kot's excellent work deserves an even wider audience.

Customer Reviews

Great book, poor editing!

This is an awesome book that any Wilco fan will enjoy. However, there are are alarming number of incorrect spellings and spacing errors. I have read this book both in print and electronic form, and I know these errors didn't exist in the print form. I don't know the process involved in creating an e-book, but I have to believe someone would at least read through it before it is released. I love this book. I would give it five stars for the information and content, but the grammar should be corrected.

View in iTunes
  • $13.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Music
  • Published: Jun 15, 2004
  • Publisher: Crown/Archetype
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 264 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings