Was speaking with Jeff Tweedy about Nels Cline, and the conversation trickled into the way that noise has found a natural place in our culture (and therefore our music) at this late date. Wilco’s music has certainly bent to make way for an artful smidge of the stuff. The arrival of Nels a few years ago helped that along. Tweedy and company curate their Solid Sound Festival at Mass MOCA this weekend. Here’s the singer’s take on how rough sounds and jazz entered his life.
I personally feel like I’ve always responded to those elements. Being a child of punk rock, noisy music was my first loves, and to be honest I feel that even the early Dylan albums have a fair share of dissonance, whether its intentional or not. Those albums feel very chaotic to me. Early on I felt that I owned folk and country music for myself a lot easier than I owned the things I loved about noise and dissonance. Initially, it felt harder for me to put them into the music honestly. I feel like I grew into it with time, and at some point they became as easy to incorporate as anything else. But as far as as the larger culture, I don’t see why people would hear them as being weird anymore, and actually most people probably don’t. It shouldn’t be anything odd. It’s just a part of rock ‘n’ roll. People ask me all the time: Why are the last three records less experimental than the other ones? I don’t think any of records have been experimental. Those experiments were done 30 years ago, the data is in, it all works, it’s great: carry on. I don’t think the point is to shock any more. The point is to create something you haven’t heard before, something that creates a certain amount of magic and feeling, and hopefully conveys that feeling in a way that can penetrate someone’s consciousness and heart. It’s much, much simpler than people make it out to be.
The jazz records I wouldn’t want to live without are things that early on I fooled myself into thinking I could possibly do. I like Thelonious Monk and Albert Ayler and stuff like that. For some reason, before I understood how difficult it was to do that stuff, I responded to ‘em on the same level that I responded to Woody Guthrie. I was attracted to it because it sounded like something I could possibly do. I don’t know why that would make a difference to me, or why I respond more to that, but I could definitely relate to it. Maybe because I could still hear a tune there. There’s sort of an irreverence about all of those guys. Putting Woody in that trio probably isn’t the first thing that would come to a lot of people’s minds, but to me there’s a real similarity to the approach to music making. They’re all about a doing a very natural act.
To celebrate the new disc being released by their own, new dBpm imprint, they rerocked Nick Lowe’s timeless “I Love My Label.” (Shoulda recorded it as they submitted YFH to WB, no?)