“I Know What It’s Like”

Listening to Jeff Tweedy’s newest single from his upcoming new solo album WARM was like a slap of nostalgia. I absolutely loved the Tweedy album Sukierae(one of my favorites of 2013, actually), but I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that hearing this new song was like heading back in the wayback machine to 1997. Back when I was just getting into Wilco and discovering what would quickly become one of my favorite bands. Period.

There’s an airiness to this new song that reminds me of the winter of 1996 and picking up Wilco’s classic double album Being There. Living in our newly built home for less than a month, the walls still painfully white with no pictures hung on them yet. The house still smelled new, as if the 2x4s under the drywall were still bleeding sap and the heavy smell of new carpet laid thick in the nostrils. I sat in my La-Z-Boy recliner with headphones on as the opening dissonance of “Misunderstood” banged the walls of my skull. “Back in your old neighborhood, cigarettes taste so good” Jeff Tweedy sang as I could feel everything in me being rewired.

Welcome to your new music obsession.

Summer of 1997 I found a used copy of Wilco’s debut album A.M. at the local used CD/Jelly Belly candy shop. I found many CDs there over the years, but this one still stands as one of the best finds. Definitely more country-tinged than Being There, it had some amazing songs. The pop-centric and bittersweet “I Must Be High”, the Stones’-ish and raucous “Casino Queen”, and the twangy beauty of “A Box Full of Letters”, not to mention the dark and lingering “Dash 7”. It’s an album I obsessed over for the majority of 1997. The following year I picked up Golden Smog’s Weird Tales and heard yet another aspect to the Jeff Tweedy experience. Getting together with guys from Soul Asylum and the Jayhawks, Tweedy joined the sort of alt-country pop supergroup and laid down some seriously jangle rock. This was also the year of the first Mermaid Avenue record, and the solidification of my ever-present love for Wilco and Jeff Tweedy’s writing.

This brings us to the present day. The 2x4s have long since stopped weeping their sticky expressions, and the walls in the house have been painted darker tints(pictures still need to be re-hung.) The carpet was replaced last summer after 21 years with the long fading, tearing at the seams remnant we began with. My love for Wilco and Jeff Tweedy, though not as obsessive and ever present as it was in the summer of 1997, is still there. His new song “I Know What It’s Like” confirms it.

The breezy nature of the track, the sweet and sad wisp in Jeff’s vocals, and the Byrds-like jangle of the song overall takes me back. It takes me back to a time before kids and heavy responsibility and the worries and anxieties of a middle-aged man. This song makes me feel like that newbie 24-year old sitting in his new La-Z-Boy with headphones on listening to songs that would change him forever.

WARM comes out 11/30 on dBpm Records. Preorder it here.

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