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Alpha Bravo Charlie: The Alphabetical Wilco Podcast


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#1 TCP

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Posted 03 August 2020 - 10:48 AM

Hey everyone,

I just wanted to let everyone know about a new Wilco podcast, called "Alpha Bravo Charlie: The Alphabetical Wilco" featuring me and my friend Jason, which officially launched today. The goal of the show is to do an episode on every Wilco song, in alphabetical order, A-Z. We wanted to feel like you're hanging out with your friends, listening to a song, and then talking about it with them, so we try to keep things light with hopefully a reasonable amount of non-obnoxious banter! Depending on the song, episodes should be between 10 to 30 minutes, with new episodes twice a week on Mondays and Wednesdays. The A-Z format is definitely not unique to us, but as far as I'm aware, we're the first podcast to do this format on Wilco and maybe the first podcast to dive this deep into Wilco's vast catalog. 

Due to a technicality in how one would organize songs that begin with a parenthesis, we're starting with "(Was I) In Your Dreams" but we'll soon move into songs classics like "A Magazine Called Sunset" and "A Shot In The Arm", and deep cuts like "Aint'a Gonna Grieve", move through the Bs, Cs, Ds, and eventually ending with "You Satellite" ...unless Wilco drops a new song in the next year that starts with Z! Wilco has a vast catalog, with lots of unreleased songs, collaborations, b-sides, etc, we had to draw a line somewhere so complete information on what songs we picked can be found here

Please check it out at www.abcwilco.com, and you can also find us on Spotify and anywhere you listen to podcasts, so feel free to subscribe! If you're reading this today we have an introductory episode up, as well as the first proper episode with episode 2 arriving on Wednesday. On the website there's lots of way to interact with us, so if your favourite Wilco song is "Cars Can't Escape" there's still time to drop us an e-mail or voicemail and explain why you love that song!



#2 uncool2pillow

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Posted 03 August 2020 - 11:51 AM

I'll give it a go.



#3 jff

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Posted 05 August 2020 - 02:14 PM

I'll check it out tomorrow.  Sounds like a fun podcast.



#4 Analogman

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Posted 05 August 2020 - 04:54 PM

You may already know this - there is an active Wilco album by album/song by song thread at the Steve Hoffman Forum right now.



#5 theashtraysays

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Posted 08 August 2020 - 10:52 AM

Listened to the first episodes.  A pleasant experience overall.  Could use a little more basset hound content tbh. 



#6 jff

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Posted 03 September 2020 - 07:12 AM

I've listened to a number of episodes now, and have enjoyed it, but if I may I'd like to offer a bit of constructive criticism based on a couple things I noticed in the Art of Almost episode.

 

When talking about Glenn's contribution to the song they make a couple of unforced errors.  They say he plays a cimbalom.  They don't know what this is, and guess that it is some sort of cymbal.  That's not a bad guess based on its name, and I'm sure 99.9% of people in the world don't know what a cimbalom is (I didn't know for sure, and I'm a musician who has played in numerous school orchestras with well outfitted percussion departments) but it's actually a stringed instrument played with mallets, very similar to a hammer dulcimer.  A quick Google search would have allowed them to explain what this instrument is, maybe narrowed in on the sound it's contributing to the song, etc. This would have added some interesting content to the episode, which is better than guessing and being wrong.  

 

Example of a cimbalom being played:

 

https://www.youtube....h?v=-NhCJMoDd5E

 

Another thing was their discussion of percussion in general.  They're right that listing "percussion" in album credits is ambiguous, and they describe it as anything having to do with rhythm.  This description is not correct.  In addition to rhythmic instruments, the percussion family includes many instruments used for melody and harmony, and others for sound effects (vibraslaps, for example).  One of the melodic percussion instruments Glenn uses is crotales, which are tuned metal discs and are used in a similar way as a xylophone or glockenspiel.  One example of his use of crotales is I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, which you can see below.

 

https://www.youtube....h?v=y3paspn2oYw

 

 

I enjoy the podcast and I'm glad it exists.  I hope this criticism won't be taken as anything other than suggestions.



#7 TCP

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Posted 03 September 2020 - 11:14 AM

I've listened to a number of episodes now, and have enjoyed it, but if I may I'd like to offer a bit of constructive criticism based on a couple things I noticed in the Art of Almost episode.

 

When talking about Glenn's contribution to the song they make a couple of unforced errors.  They say he plays a cimbalom.  They don't know what this is, and guess that it is some sort of cymbal.  That's not a bad guess based on its name, and I'm sure 99.9% of people in the world don't know what a cimbalom is (I didn't know for sure, and I'm a musician who has played in numerous school orchestras with well outfitted percussion departments) but it's actually a stringed instrument played with mallets, very similar to a hammer dulcimer.  A quick Google search would have allowed them to explain what this instrument is, maybe narrowed in on the sound it's contributing to the song, etc. This would have added some interesting content to the episode, which is better than guessing and being wrong.  

 

Example of a cimbalom being played:

 

https://www.youtube....h?v=-NhCJMoDd5E

 

Another thing was their discussion of percussion in general.  They're right that listing "percussion" in album credits is ambiguous, and they describe it as anything having to do with rhythm.  This description is not correct.  In addition to rhythmic instruments, the percussion family includes many instruments used for melody and harmony, and others for sound effects (vibraslaps, for example).  One of the melodic percussion instruments Glenn uses is crotales, which are tuned metal discs and are used in a similar way as a xylophone or glockenspiel.  One example of his use of crotales is I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, which you can see below.

 

https://www.youtube....h?v=y3paspn2oYw

 

 

I enjoy the podcast and I'm glad it exists.  I hope this criticism won't be taken as anything other than suggestions.

 

That's a fair point, I typically will look at the rundown for who played what (if available... newer Wilco albums don't have as much info for song-by-song, unfortunately) and will look up any weird instruments I'm not familiar with, for instance on At My Window Sad and Lonely I noticed Billy plays a "bouzouki" and off the top of my head I wouldn't have been able to tell you what that is. But in that situation I caught that before we recorded and was able to quickly do some research. Clearly for Art of Almost I didn't do that, which is too bad because explaining what a cimbalom is, is exactly the kind of in depth, slightly nerdy stuff I want to share. So I probably should have just done my due diligence instead of guessing! Seems like I was caught off guard with that one. I want the show to find a good balance between being informative and feeling like a fun conversation between friends. So I don't want it to feel too structured or rehearsed, but there's probably a good balance we can find. I do try to research each song before hand but I also like going into these not knowing exactly where the conversation will flow or what Jason thinks and feels about individual songs.

But thanks for the clarification, I think doing a "corrections" segment every once in awhile will be fun, so I'll mention it there (unfortunately we're trying to record ahead so we have a large bank of episodes before Jason's child is born this winter, so it won't be able to set the record straight till we're into the Cs). Fair point about the percussion instruments too, I tend to think when there's a blanketed "percussion" credit that it's just shakers/tambourines but you're right in that isn't fair for all percussion instruments.  

The other piece of feedback we've gotten is we don't always delve too deeply into what a song means. Sometimes, that's fine, like for Christ For President, it's right there in the title. Other times, like At Least That's What You Said, there was probably opportunity to talk about the lyrics a little more in-depth. Though I also don't want to get too into the weeds of dissecting each lyric Jeff writes, again, there's a balance in there somewhere to find. I tend to think much more about the songs sonically or the story behind the songs, lyrics can become an after thought for me at times, so I'm working on that. 

Another change you'll notice after these initial batch of episodes is we lock down the format for the show a little more which I think has a big payoff for just keeping things organized and focused. 

Again, thanks for listening and caring enough to offer your thoughts! 



#8 jff

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Posted 03 September 2020 - 12:29 PM

That's a fair point, I typically will look at the rundown for who played what (if available... newer Wilco albums don't have as much info for song-by-song, unfortunately) and will look up any weird instruments I'm not familiar with, for instance on At My Window Sad and Lonely I noticed Billy plays a "bouzouki" and off the top of my head I wouldn't have been able to tell you what that is. But in that situation I caught that before we recorded and was able to quickly do some research. Clearly for Art of Almost I didn't do that, which is too bad because explaining what a cimbalom is, is exactly the kind of in depth, slightly nerdy stuff I want to share. So I probably should have just done my due diligence instead of guessing! Seems like I was caught off guard with that one. I want the show to find a good balance between being informative and feeling like a fun conversation between friends. So I don't want it to feel too structured or rehearsed, but there's probably a good balance we can find. I do try to research each song before hand but I also like going into these not knowing exactly where the conversation will flow or what Jason thinks and feels about individual songs.

But thanks for the clarification, I think doing a "corrections" segment every once in awhile will be fun, so I'll mention it there (unfortunately we're trying to record ahead so we have a large bank of episodes before Jason's child is born this winter, so it won't be able to set the record straight till we're into the Cs). Fair point about the percussion instruments too, I tend to think when there's a blanketed "percussion" credit that it's just shakers/tambourines but you're right in that isn't fair for all percussion instruments.  

The other piece of feedback we've gotten is we don't always delve too deeply into what a song means. Sometimes, that's fine, like for Christ For President, it's right there in the title. Other times, like At Least That's What You Said, there was probably opportunity to talk about the lyrics a little more in-depth. Though I also don't want to get too into the weeds of dissecting each lyric Jeff writes, again, there's a balance in there somewhere to find. I tend to think much more about the songs sonically or the story behind the songs, lyrics can become an after thought for me at times, so I'm working on that. 

Another change you'll notice after these initial batch of episodes is we lock down the format for the show a little more which I think has a big payoff for just keeping things organized and focused. 

Again, thanks for listening and caring enough to offer your thoughts! 

 

Hey, Looking forward to listening to the Ashes episode later today.  Just as soon as I finish listening to the George Clinton interview on Questlove Supreme.

 

BTW, I agree with your take on Art of Almost feeling like an experimental track shoehorned into a fairly straightforward batch of tunes.  That, and like you guys, The Whole Love is my lost Wilco era.  It's my least listened to of their albums, and one of the few tours I skipped (I think I skipped the Schmilco tour, too).  I was hoping what they were doing on Art of Almost would be representative the whole album, but instead it's mostly breezy pop, straightforward rock, and a couple silly moments.  And a way too long folk song that I don't really like at all.  Come to think of it, that song may be the main reason why I skipped the tour.  



#9 lost highway

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Posted 03 September 2020 - 02:27 PM

How do I go back to the older episodes?

 

Also I often wonder why a bigger deal has never been made of the prominent hammer dulcimer sounds on AGIB. Maybe that was really the cimbalom.

 

Also my friend in high school interrupted a hammer dulcimer performance by shouting "I was hammered all summer too!"



#10 uncool2pillow

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Posted 04 September 2020 - 12:21 PM

I just realized my damn podcast app (Podcast Republic on Android) hasn't been download podcasts I've recently subscribed to. Downloaded many, not all, of the ones I missed.



#11 TCP

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Posted 05 September 2020 - 08:34 PM

How do I go back to the older episodes?

 

Also I often wonder why a bigger deal has never been made of the prominent hammer dulcimer sounds on AGIB. Maybe that was really the cimbalom.

 

Also my friend in high school interrupted a hammer dulcimer performance by shouting "I was hammered all summer too!"

 

Sorry I missed this! Older episodes are up on Spotify and Apple, a few other places too, there's links on abcwilco.com.



#12 lost highway

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Posted 05 September 2020 - 10:16 PM

Thanks!



#13 jff

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Posted 09 September 2020 - 07:39 AM

I can't get the Ashes episode to play, but i'm enjoying the At Least... episode.  

 

Regarding your discussion of Sunset Magazine in the At Least... episode, and magazines specific to states or cities, which seems to be a novel concept to the Canadian host of this podcast, that is very common in the states.  Most cities and states in the US have their own magazines.  Here in Atlanta, we have Atlanta Magazine.  We also have magazines specific to various statewide industries or interests.  Georgia Music Magazine (now defunct) was one that comes to mind. 

 

Even Little Rock has it's own magazine, Little Rock Family.   You could probably google any city + magazine and you'd find results.  I'm kind of surprised this isn't a thing in Canada.






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