This article was originally published in 2016, but we’re dusting it off for Jeff Tweedy’s birthday on August 25th.
Ever felt overwhelmed by an artist’s extensive back catalog? Been meaning to check out a band, but you just don’t know where to begin? In 10 Songs is here to help, offering a crash course and entry point into the daunting discographies of iconic artists of all genres. This is your first step toward fandom. Take it.
Wilco comfortably sit atop a dense, audacious, and bewildering catalog. For nearly three decades, they’ve carved out their place in rock ‘n’ roll with their genre-defying brand of Midwestern alternative rock, one that crosses over into everything from folk to experimental to bluegrass.
When Jeff Tweedy, bassist John Stirratt, drummer Ken Coomer, and multi-instrumentalist Max Johnston came together to form Wilco in the wake of Uncle Tupelo’s demise, none of them knew what would follow — and most wouldn’t follow. Today, the only remaining original members are Tweedy and Stirratt.
Since then, Wilco’s had its lineup shaken but hardly stirred, ultimately proving to be resourceful and resolute enough to stave off any drama that might otherwise bury a band six feet under. To that notion, they’re a complicated outfit to fully crack, which is why we decided to assemble this breezy guide for the assist.
So, withhold any “Reservations” and stop wondering “Where Do I Begin.” Ahead, you’ll find 10 tracks that best encapsulate the entire Wilco catalog — you can also scroll to the very end for a playlist — and don’t worry, we’re going to walk you through them “One by One,” that way you can keep listening “On and On and On.” If anything, consider this your “Radio Cure.”
— Michael Roffman