2018, Books, Music, Non-Fiction

Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back) (2018) by Jeff Tweedy

At one point in my life Wilco were among my favourite bands, very close to being my favourite. I saw them in 2009 or 2010 and it was perhaps the best concert I’d ever seen to that point. (Live recordings!) I have all their albums but their debut, I have their concert film, I have way too many live recordings. At one point, they were a bit of an obsession. (I’ve still never seen the documentary about Yankee Hotel Foxtrot somehow, though.) So I am definitely this book’s intended audience. So take what I have to say with a huge grain of salt.

Jeff Tweedy has written a funny, earnest, (hopefully) honest and thoughtful autobiography, which sheds light on what it’s like to be a reasonably famous but not incredibly famous person, on what it’s like to be a songwriter, and on mental health and addiction issues. There’s a lot here, I think, even for people who are not necessarily the biggest fans of the band, if only because the vast majority of the book is not dedicated to Wilco and its recordings. (There is some stuff, for some, but mostly about their first records, and not as much as you might think given this is what he’s mostly famous for.) The stuff about growing up in a smaller city in the Midwest, and especially the stuff about discovering who you are and mental health issues, will likely resonate a lot more than the stuff about the creative process. Also, it’s quite funny, with a few lines so good I had to read them out to my girlfriend. (Not knowing the band, I’m sure she enjoyed that.) The format is also relatively unconventional, with two different techniques added in addition to memoir to break up the text. I haven’t personally read a memoir with either, though I haven’t read that many.

I will say that if you are looking for a history of Uncle Tupelo and/or Wilco, you will be sorely disappointed. This is not a linear narrative, and it is not a memoir that ticks off album releases like key events in his life. (Given that I know both bands’ histories, this is not an issue for me.)

Overall, it’s certainly of interest to fans, but likely also of interest to anyone who likes reading about musicians, or anyone who is interested in personal memoirs of addiction issues or mental health struggles. So I think the appeal is a little broader than it might seem. Just because you say to yourself “Who the hell is Jeff Tweedy?” doesn’t mean you won’t like the book.


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