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17. Wilco – Poor Places

07/12/2009

Jeff Tweedy is not okay – countless Wilco songs are testament to this. But what makes Poor Places such a beautiful expression of his unease is that for all the multilayered density of its production, the song still feels like one single outpouring – it’s a whole, irreducible entity (albeit a complicated one), a portrait of Tweedy’s tangled synapses. The brilliance lies in how the track begins and ends: in the space of five minutes, a baleful folk song of distant fathers and sailors being sent off to war becomes a psychotically rocking, foetal-position white-noise meltdown. But Poor Places isn’t some whinge of self-pity; every lyric, no matter how evocative or oblique, feels honest, almost humble. Nor is it simply noisenik posturing without intent; every blast sounds necessary, and is complemented by some other element: the tumbling piano lines ripple against the military snare drums, the snatch of shortwave radio locks in with the increasing fizz of guitar feedback. It ends with Tweedy repeating “It makes no difference to me… I’m not going outside” while the entire record crashes down around him, each element veering in and out of earshot. The sense of bleakness and isolation is inescapable, but when it’s painted in such dramatic colours and with such individualism, it’s hard not to acknowledge the accompanying greatness.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Jen permalink
    14/12/2009 5:14 pm

    y.e.s. m.a.t.e.

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