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"Ode To Joy" Reactions


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There are two quotes in the John article that encapsulate to me the different ways people are reacting to this album.

 

“Ode To Joy”, finds the band reaching for new heights in a new and exciting way that recalls their adventurous past...Their contributions result in some of the most exciting and surprising sonic explorations the band has committed to tape in quite some time.

 

And

 

“I think that Jeff had a real vision for what he wanted the accompaniment to sound like, and it was very light,” laughs Stirratt of the stark and sparse arrangements on the album.

 

These statements seem like a dichotomy to me.

 

Can you be stark and sparse, and also reach for new heights at the same time?  I guess it depends who you ask, and there's probably no right answer.

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interesting post, jff. Could it be that Jeff's initial vision is different from how the final product turned out?

 

Everything I've read suggests Tweedy got what he was aiming for.  When you work with others, the end result is never going to exactly match the vision one person had at the beginning of the project.  Surely Tweedy understands this, but if he had a  "real vision for what he wanted," and he's happy with the end result, it's because he knew how to explain his vision to the other musicians so they could deliver something close enough to what he was hoping for.   But it'd be impossible to other people to deliver note for note, tone for tone exactly what he was picturing in his head.  So the leader of a creative group always has to have some flexibility built into their vision.

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Yeah, gave it a spin earlier with headphones and enjoyed it enough to want to listen again but it's certainly a headphones album and not one I think I'd fully take in if listening, say, in the car.

 

Overall, though, it's not a million miles from Schmilco and the solo albums and I don't go back to them so often. A bit one-paced but it is what it is. Maybe the next one will be more like a Star Wars....

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Ode to Joy?  Wilco should have just named it Sky Blue Sky II.  When I first got on VC in 2008 SBS was still taking a beating from many hardcore VC'ers, I didn't get the criticism then, and I don't get it now.  Wilco is band that been around the block, lyrically, sonically and personellwise,  and they can make any album they want to, hell they own the damn label.  I guess folks expected light-hearted poppy tunes with lots of hooks and clever lyrics given the title "Ode to Joy", but no, the band goes and throws out a curve ball maybe hoping the fans can rise to the occasion and appreciate the fact that they're not sitting back on their laurels rehashing the familiar.  I trust Tweedy and the boys to know what they're doing, and Ode grows on me with every new listen.  If you're not into it, that's cool, just think of it was as an experimental album of deep cuts.  

SBS was the first album I really listened to after A.M. I experienced a regrettably long period where I almost completely stopped listening to new music of any kind. It could have had something to do with the birth of my first son. In fact I'm just going with that.

 

The most regrettable thing for me today is that I knew Jay Bennett and was really excited for him after joining the band. I didn't find out until after he had passed away that he and Wilco had parted ways ... that's how out of the loop I was.

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I get they are artists and want to always be creating and progressing but the results of that work is, for me, getting increasingly boring...  But it is a bummer for me if the live show gets increasingly filled up with mediocre songs at the expense of far better older songs.

 

THIS.

 

(I still hate SBS, though.)

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Yes John, vary the setlists in America, like Phish!

I noticed he said like Phish, not the Grateful Dead.  C'mon John, give credit to the pioneers of setlist variety, at least.  I guess the Dead are still probably anathema to many from an art-rock, punk-rock indie-rock background.  Really I don't care who is the model for setlist variety but how great would it be if they would play no repeats for three shows in a row all the time?  One might even start to miss Jesus Etc ( or insert whatever overplayed warhorse you are tired of hearing) if you didn't hear it every time you saw them live!  You might actually get to hear a song like Kingpin once in awhile or not have to go years without getting Monday or Ashes of American Flags.  And diehards would likely attend more shows, too.

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It would be incredible and I would see them so much more than I already do.  That's why the residency in 2008, the shrinking tour in 2011 and the winterlude in 2014 were so great.  There were some repeats every night, but each show was largely unique.  

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I noticed he said like Phish, not the Grateful Dead.  C'mon John, give credit to the pioneers of setlist variety, at least.  I guess the Dead are still probably anathema to many from an art-rock, punk-rock indie-rock background.  Really I don't care who is the model for setlist variety but how great would it be if they would play no repeats for three shows in a row all the time?  One might even start to miss Jesus Etc ( or insert whatever overplayed warhorse you are tired of hearing) if you didn't hear it every time you saw them live!  You might actually get to hear a song like Kingpin once in awhile or not have to go years without getting Monday or Ashes of American Flags.  And diehards would likely attend more shows, too.

I think Jeff has said recently it makes him uneasy to change up the setlist that much every single night. I can't say I blame him. There has to be a certain degree of anxiety about feeling pressure to do something different/unique every single night. Of course I'd like to see variety, especially in multi-night stands, and am hoping for a lot of different stuff at the Chicago shows in December. But no repeats for three shows in a row all the time in different cities seems excessive. Something in the middle would be more reasonable.

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I think Jeff has said recently it makes him uneasy to change up the setlist that much every single night. I can't say I blame him. There has to be a certain degree of anxiety about feeling pressure to do something different/unique every single night. Of course I'd like to see variety, especially in multi-night stands, and am hoping for a lot of different stuff at the Chicago shows in December. But no repeats for three shows in a row all the time in different cities seems excessive. Something in the middle would be more reasonable.

I think that’s kinda what they do, right? The mix it up a fair amount. I’m going to 3 shows this leg, and I’d honestly be fine if it were the same set night after night.
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I noticed he said like Phish, not the Grateful Dead.  C'mon John, give credit to the pioneers of setlist variety, at least.  I guess the Dead are still probably anathema to many from an art-rock, punk-rock indie-rock background.  Really I don't care who is the model for setlist variety but how great would it be if they would play no repeats for three shows in a row all the time?  One might even start to miss Jesus Etc ( or insert whatever overplayed warhorse you are tired of hearing) if you didn't hear it every time you saw them live!  You might actually get to hear a song like Kingpin once in awhile or not have to go years without getting Monday or Ashes of American Flags.  And diehards would likely attend more shows, too.

I think Phish has received a bit more notoriety lately for the setlist variation, playing 13 straight shows at MSG with no repeats, etc. Phish is more extreme with the setlist variation than the Dead ever were, pioneers tho they were. Or could be due to John living in Phish's backyard these days. Who knows. 

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I would never put AM as an essential Wilco album. 

 

The opening couple beats of the new record makes me think of the opening to "Too Far Apart".

 

For me, A.M. is essential Wilco. "Ramshackle" might be a good word to describe early Wilco. Jeff, who I've always thought is funny when he wants to be, sprinkled his lyrics with touches of humor on songs like Casino Queen, Passenger Side, Monday, & Dreamer In My Dreams. Even "I Must Be High".

 

I like that Jeff & the band are STILL excited about what they're creating, even if it takes a little longer to like what they're doing, if I in fact ever get to the point of truly liking whatever new music they make.

 

I've listened a number of times now to Ode To Joy, and I like it. Not greatly, but I'm glad they made it. 

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While the album is definitely growing on me, it’s certainly not one that I have any desire to listen to multiple times in a row. I haven’t decided yet if that’s because it’s not good enough to warrant that or if it’s so heavy and dark that I need a break after each listen.

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Good interview....but John didn't really come across as particularly effusive about the album. He refers to the recording process as "interesting", which seems to damn it with faint praise.

 

He doesn't seem to say that they had a blast putting it together or it was...fun? Maybe it was and that just hasn't come across but it seems a fairly "meh" standpoint...

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I noticed he said like Phish, not the Grateful Dead.  C'mon John, give credit to the pioneers of setlist variety, at least.  I guess the Dead are still probably anathema to many from an art-rock, punk-rock indie-rock background.  Really I don't care who is the model for setlist variety but how great would it be if they would play no repeats for three shows in a row all the time?  One might even start to miss Jesus Etc ( or insert whatever overplayed warhorse you are tired of hearing) if you didn't hear it every time you saw them live!  You might actually get to hear a song like Kingpin once in awhile or not have to go years without getting Monday or Ashes of American Flags.  And diehards would likely attend more shows, too.

 

It could be that he was consciously using a contemporary reference for the sake of modern audiences, many of whom weren't alive to see the Dead.   There's no chance whatsoever that John is unaware the Dead came before Phish, or was slighting them in any way.  Wilco did a tour with Bob Weir and played Grateful Dead songs on sage with him.  The Dead don't need to be buffed up any more than they already are. 

 

Also, do we know for sure that the Dead are the pioneers of setlist variety?  Or have they simply been marketed that way?   There were probably countless long-forgotten folk artists that knew thousands of songs and could do ten times more shows with no repeats than the Dead.  

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Songs came across pretty well live (Tues in Toronto). Went back to the album and it still seems something of an ordeal to get through. I have said this before, Wilco should do an album of new songs performed live (like Neil Young has done in the past), not sure the studio has helped them on the last few releases.

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It could be that he was consciously using a contemporary reference for the sake of modern audiences, many of whom weren't alive to see the Dead.   There's no chance whatsoever that John is unaware the Dead came before Phish, or was slighting them in any way.  Wilco did a tour with Bob Weir and played Grateful Dead songs on sage with him.  The Dead don't need to be buffed up any more than they already are. 

 

Also, do we know for sure that the Dead are the pioneers of setlist variety?  Or have they simply been marketed that way?   There were probably countless long-forgotten folk artists that knew thousands of songs and could do ten times more shows with no repeats than the Dead.  

I was more joking than being serious, I don't really think he was slighting the Dead or they need more credit.  I don't know of any other rock band or a touring band of any other kind of music before the Dead that pioneered setlist variety more than they did. It wasn't til the early 80s really, that the no repeats in three nights pattern started with the Dead but it certainly made people consider a three night run in a given city something where you didn't think twice about going all three nights.  The expectation was so set in stone that some Heads would complain if a single song was repeated in a three night stand!  "they played Black Peter on night one, I can't believe they did it again on night three!"

 

I think with all the songs Wilco can pull out after long periods unplayed and then freaking nail it, they have more than enough skill and talent to do no repeats, as they have demonstrated on some of these no repeat runs in the past.  I also get that some fans won't like it, the more casual ones, likely, if they don't get to hear their fave song at the one show they go see.  But the Dead just did what they wanted to do and their fans got used to it.  Everyone knew you probably wouldn't hear Truckin' unless you went to three shows in a row, stuff like that.  I think it was a win-win for the band and their dedicated fans.  :peace

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I was more joking than being serious, I don't really think he was slighting the Dead or they need more credit.  I don't know of any other rock band or a touring band of any other kind of music before the Dead that pioneered setlist variety more than they did. It wasn't til the early 80s really, that the no repeats in three nights pattern started with the Dead but it certainly made people consider a three night run in a given city something where you didn't think twice about going all three nights.  The expectation was so set in stone that some Heads would complain if a single song was repeated in a three night stand!  "they played Black Peter on night one, I can't believe they did it again on night three!"

 

I think with all the songs Wilco can pull out after long periods unplayed and then freaking nail it, they have more than enough skill and talent to do no repeats, as they have demonstrated on some of these no repeat runs in the past.  I also get that some fans won't like it, the more casual ones, likely, if they don't get to hear their fave song at the one show they go see.  But the Dead just did what they wanted to do and their fans got used to it.  Everyone knew you probably wouldn't hear Truckin' unless you went to three shows in a row, stuff like that.  I think it was a win-win for the band and their dedicated fans.  :peace

 

I hope my post didn't come across as argumentative.  That wasn't my intent, but I was in a mood this morning, so there might be some aggro tone there that was unwarranted.

 

Anyway, I agree with you about setlist variation.  I like being surprised. They've generally done a pretty good job of changing up the setlist at the shows I've seen (I usually only see one show per tour), but there are still a lot of songs I've never see them play, and a number of songs they've almost always played. 

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I hope my post didn't come across as argumentative.  That wasn't my intent, but I was in a mood this morning, so there might be some aggro tone there that was unwarranted.

 

Anyway, I agree with you about setlist variation.  I like being surprised. They've generally done a pretty good job of changing up the setlist at the shows I've seen (I usually only see one show per tour), but there are still a lot of songs I've never see them play, and a number of songs they've almost always played. 

No worries!  Kindness appreciated, thanks!

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I am the beleaguered moderator in the Facebook group and to tell you the truth I am just about over it. The group has gotten way too big, I think it’s been invaded by trolls and there’s so much shitposting and backstabbing that it’s not fun anymore. I know that some of you here on this message board are also members of the Facebook group and I would sincerely appreciate any suggestions you might have as to some way to get that place back on track. I’ve always thought that this board and the Facebook group could compatibly coexist because they each have different strengths. (I also know that some people just hate Facebook on general principles and I’m beginning to understand that point of view!) My real name is Diane Kyrus and you can send me a PM.

 

Oh, and in the interest of keeping this post on topic, I am a huge fan of OTJ.

Hey Diane, Andrew Zender here. That Facebook group has gotten out of control. I don’t blame you one bit. I’ve gotten drawn into far more spats than I care to admit, and there’s definitely a strong vibe of personal attacks. The concept of “your opinion is wrong” runs rampant. The weekly “what’s the worst Wilco song?” or “rank the album” threads are getting really annoying. I’ve considered unfollowing and may have just talked myself into it.

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