it’s messy

Michael Sippey
2 min readApr 29, 2022

Wilco has a new record coming, Cruel Country. Jeff Tweedy, in his newsletter, shares some of the background promo material, which includes this gem of a graf.

The whole record is comprised, almost entirely, of live takes, with just a handful of overdubs. Everyone in the room together with a leaky drum booth and no baffles. It’s a really great way to make a record. But due to artistic curiosity and no small shortage of challenging logistics, it’s an approach we haven’t used in years — maybe not since Sky Blue Sky. It’s a style of recording that forces a band to surrender control and learn to trust each other, along with each others’ imperfections, musical and otherwise. With no “one” person in charge, the goal can be vague. But a certain type of faith emerges. A belief that we’re all heading toward the same destination, and we either get there together or not at all. It’s messy. Like democracy. But when it’s working the way it’s supposed to, it feels like gathering around some wild collective instrument, one that requires six sets of hands to play. An instrument that forces one to communicate wordlessly and sprout deep tangles of roots, like an old forest.

Emphasis mine. I’m not sure about the democracy analogy, because I’m not sure we any longer share a belief or faith that we’re all heading toward the same destination. But there’s a reason I’m obsessed with music documentaries (including the recent 8 hour Beatles-fest), which is that bands making music can feel an awful lot like 0 to 1 product development. Either we get there together or not at all.