The Wilco Book

Overview

This is a book about Wilco and the pictorial, literary and musical world it conjures up on record and in performance. Created in collaboration with Jeff Tweedy, Wilco and Tony Margherita, this primarily visual book explores what Wilco does, how it does it, and where it all comes together. The band narrates the book in the form of long captions accompanying a variety of images: a Korean postcard, a Stratocaster, a backstage practice session, and so on. Along the way, central topics such as instruments, touring and...

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Overview

This is a book about Wilco and the pictorial, literary and musical world it conjures up on record and in performance. Created in collaboration with Jeff Tweedy, Wilco and Tony Margherita, this primarily visual book explores what Wilco does, how it does it, and where it all comes together. The band narrates the book in the form of long captions accompanying a variety of images: a Korean postcard, a Stratocaster, a backstage practice session, and so on. Along the way, central topics such as instruments, touring and recording are covered both in general (i.e., what happens, physically, when a guitar string breaks) and specific to Wilco. Just as the band assembles its disparate talents and inspirations to make music, this book coheres in the end to reveal a 40-minute CD of original, unreleased songs. Just as Wilco experiments with music by turning convention on its head, this book is an utterly new take on the old genre of the rock 'n' roll book. The Wilco Book will look and read like a Wilco record sounds; it's a translation of the band's sensibility from sound into print.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
If you are a fan of the former alt-country group now turned art-rock quartet Wilco, you may be surprised to learn that even with one album and two books already released this year, there is still more to know about the band. If you are not a fan, then do yourself a favor: Get the first album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, and the most recent one, A Ghost Is Born, and mentally prepare yourself. Just do it, okay? Think about what singer Jeff Tweedy alludes to as "angst, regret and forgiveness" (he labeled his effects pedals accordingly), as they pertain to evolution and experimentation. Then take three months off and listen to Wilco relentlessly until you no longer want to kill yourself … and then buy The Wilco Book!

A sort of journalistic "almost-narrative" of whys and wherefores, it includes a few contributions from band favorites like Henry Miller, Fred Tomaselli, and Rick Moody. But most of the content comes from the band members themselves -- and the fine people at PictureBox - creating a collage of words and photos about the road and the studio and about what happens in both places. See, the thing about this book is that it doesn't include a lot of biographical information. Band members don't reminisce about the past or even talk much about the band itself. Instead, this musical slice of life paints a portrait of artists caught up in the excitement of experimentation and living in a time of great transition. Reading the book is like listening to Wilco: an experience that is moody and smart and a little ephemeral.

The accompanying CD is a collection of tunes from the A Ghost Is Born sessions. Some of these songs ("Diamond Claw" and a startlingly different version of "Hummingbird," for example) are so good, listeners will wonder why they were omitted from the first record No matter, we have them now.

The random and super-heady breakdowns of "process" are sometimes a little long, but the exhaustive dissection of an important group of artists in a period of drastic transition is a weighty and worthy subject. Read what Tweedy has to say about songwriting: "It's pretentious -- that's the word for it. But I don't know of anything that isn't based on pretense." So there. Elizabeth McMillan

Publishers Weekly
In case fans of alt-country turned art-rock band Wilco didn't get enough pertinent reading material this year-including front man Jeff Tweedy's poetry collection, Adult Head, and rock critic Greg Kot's affectionate band bio, Wilco: Learning How to Die-there's this lavishly designed and gorgeously printed collaboration between band members and the New York design company PictureBox. Meant to capture the soulful, rockin', poetically inscrutable essence of Wilco's art, it collects essays, drawings and random comments by Wilco members, organized by their collective interests, including "The Loft" where they rehearse, "The Instruments" they use and the process of "Making a Record." Accompanied by a CD of unreleased material and generously illustrated with beautiful color photographs by Michael Schmelling, it also features Henry Miller's classic essay on creativity, "The Angel Is My Watermark"; an often tortured look at five Wilco songs by Rick Moody; and a section on how the band's soundman prepares for a live concert that gives a fascinating look at the workday of professional musicians. While the book's beauty can't mask its lack of context-biographical or musical-for anyone with a casual interest in the band, there are plenty of hardcore fans out there who'll find it required reading. (Nov.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780971367036
  • Publisher: PictureBox
  • Publication date: 11/15/2004
  • Edition description: BOOK & CD
  • Pages: 160
  • Product dimensions: 8.20 (w) x 10.26 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Fred Tomaselli was born and raised in suburban southern California and lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Among the public institutions where he has had solo exhibitions are P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center in New York; The Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati; Huntington Beach Art Center, California; and Center for the Arts, Yerba Buena, California. He is represented by the James Cohan Gallery in New York.

Wilco is a Grammy-nominated band from Chicago. Principle songwriter and lead singer Jeff Tweedy co-founded the legendary country punk band Uncle Tupelo. Wilco records include A.M., Being There, Mermaid Avenue, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, and, most recently, A Ghost is Born.

Boris Mikhailov was born in 1938 in Kharkov, Ukraine and still lives in his hometown when not teaching at Harvard. His work has been widely shown throughout Europe and the United States, including at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Carnegie International, Pittsburgh, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, the MIT List Center, Cambridge, the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, the Photographers Gallery, London, the DAAD Gallery, Berlin and the Sprengel Museum, Hannover. Mikhailov was recently honored with the Coutts Contemporary Art Award, the Hasselblad Award and the Citybank Photography prize.

Michael Schmelling's photographs have appeared in 'Details, Harpers, The New York Times, and Wired, among other publications. J&L recently published his first book, Shut up Truth.

Peter Buchanan-Smith, cofounder of The Ganzfeld, is the author of Speck.

Rick Moody is the author of numerous books of fiction, including The Ice Storm, Purple America, Demonology and, mostrecently, The Black Veil: A Memoir with Digressions. He has received the Aga Khan Prize and the Addison Metcalf Award, among other honors.

Daniel Nadel is cofounder of The Ganzfeld.

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