Wilco: Learning How to Die

Wilco Learning How to Die This story of a rock band fighting to maintain its artistic integrity is not just about a David and Goliath struggle against corporate labels it is also a compelling intimate look at making music an

  • Title: Wilco: Learning How to Die
  • Author: Greg Kot
  • ISBN: 9781417722259
  • Page: 175
  • Format: Hardcover
  • This story of a rock band fighting to maintain its artistic integrity is not just about a David and Goliath struggle against corporate labels, it is also a compelling, intimate look at making music and the difficult but wonderful collaborative process of being in a band.

    One thought on “Wilco: Learning How to Die”

    1. Wilco is one of the most important yet understated bands of our time. This book is a great overview of frontman Jeff Tweedy's career, starting way back in his junior high days, coming up through Uncle Tupelo, Loose Fur, Wilco, etc etc. You learn so much about Tweedy, from his favorite music to his lifetime struggles with migraines and depression to his personal philosophy about the creation of music. Author Greg Kot's many hats as a journalist, Wilco fan, Chicagoan, and music critic all blend to [...]

    2. Wilco is one of the most important yet understated bands of our time. This book is a great overview of frontman Jeff Tweedy's career, starting way back in his junior high days, coming up through Uncle Tupelo, Loose Fur, Wilco, etc etc. You learn so much about Tweedy, from his favorite music to his lifetime struggles with migraines and depression to his personal philosophy about the creation of music. Author Greg Kot's many hats as a journalist, Wilco fan, Chicagoan, and music critic all blend to [...]

    3. I have heard stories that some of Kot's methods for getting interviews from people like Jay Farrar weren't exactly on the up-and-up (he reportedly told Farrar he was writing a book on the early alt. country scene instead of one about his ex-bandmate's highly successful band). Interesting also that Brian Henneman and even Jeff Tweedy himself were pretty down on Kot and the final product. Still a very good book, though feels a tad bit padded towards the end. The Warner Bros./Yankee Hotel Foxtrot i [...]

    4. For the 3-4 days it took me to get through this, I found myself compelled to read more. Tracing the steps from the good ol' Uncle Tupelo days to the baby steps of 2004's A Ghost is Born, Kot gives a nice overview of the story up until that point. That being said, so much has happened in the saga since its hard to leave off just when Tweedy went into rehab at the beginning of 2004. Hindsight being what it is, it's funny to see whether the band's lineup could ever match the Jay Bennett-helmed Summ [...]

    5. People that know me will look at my 5 star rating of this book and say something close to, "Of course he gave it 5 stars, he is a Wilco freak". While yes that is true, I do LOVE WILCO, this book deserves the 5 stars for much more than just that reason. While Sam Jones' film, I am Trying to Break Your Heart, shows Wilco during that now infamous time period of turmoil, "Learning How to Die" tells the musical story of Jeff Tweedy beginning just previous to his time in Uncle Tupelo, and ending with [...]

    6. Okay, I'm still sticking to my Jay Farrar is better guns, but this has helped me develop a respect for Wilco that was dubious at best before I got my hands on this booke history of Uncle Tupelo, and the story of the Mermaid Avenue sessions (and Tweedy's subsequent falling out with Billy Bragg, leading to a split tour) are just damn fascinating. That said, the book has still done NOTHING to explain to me how one can assassin down the avenue

    7. It was great reading this for all of the history, but Greg Kot should stay away from writing books. It might work for music reviews in the Chicago Tribune (where he's the music writer), but his style gets seriously tired and trite-sounding the more you read.I still liked it.Also, my great-uncle lives in the same little town Jeff Tweedy was born in. Weird.

    8. This is an interesting overview of Jeff Tweedy's two major bands, Uncle Tupelo and Wilco. I particularly liked the overview of Uncle Tupelo's early days, which I didn't know much about. Tweedy comes across as a bit of a dreamer, who is constantly following his personal muse, no matter what happens to those around him.There's not much in terms of "tell-all" journalism here, but Kot certainly did his homework, and seems to have interviewed just about everyone involved in Tweedy's musical career. W [...]

    9. Great read.Amazing how much history can be uncovered on bands that were so non-mainstream, especially mostly pre-internet. Crazy that this book leaves off 15 years ago before A Ghost is Born. Would love to see a volume 2 and see what's been happening since.

    10. Obviously one is probably going to be a Wilco fan if he or she is going to dive into this book. As one who could be qualified as such, the book is pretty damn pleasing. For those of you whom the author's name does not ring a bell, Greg Kot is the co-host of music talk show, Sound Opinions, and the music critic at the Chicago Tribune. If you are familiar with his work, then you would not be shocked to find that Wilco: Learning How To Die is a thoughtful look at Wilco as one of the bands that spra [...]

    11. I can't believe I waited four years to read this book. If you like the band but don't love them, you won't find this very interesting. But if you're even mildly obsessed, you have to get a copy. Of course, the great material is really the information contained in this book, not necessarily its writing style. It's well-researched though, and full of affection for the band and the music. Some of the writing about the songs in particular is very good- it makes you appreciate how difficult it must b [...]

    12. I can't believe it took me so long to get to this. They've put out, what, 4 or 5 albums since this? I am a disgrace of a diehard fan. And would only recommend for the diehard fan. Wilco is unique. They have been successful in spite of radio--a testament to talent winning for once. Maybe because they weren't greedy and didn't want to be on the radio. Whatever. I just saw them on 7/6/13 and it was wonderful! Short set being part of Dylan's Americanarama thing but so worth it. They really jammed, t [...]

    13. Casual Wilco fans should pass this by -- Greg Kot goes into excruciating detail about the band's roots in Uncle Tupelo, the early gigs in St. Louis, the varied influences, etc etc. before getting into a stronger narrative about the formation and permutations of Wilco. Kot's reporting is impressive, though at times he'd have been well served by an editor with a strong hand. (Do we really need to know the birthdate and background of every A&R exec who was interested in the band?) He's also pro [...]

    14. I never would've considered Wilco's story to be a dramatic affair. I was wrong. Though I knew about the whole label controversy over "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" and knew some things about Uncle Tupelo, I wasn't prepared for what I read. A lot of my perceptions around Jeff Tweedy definitely changed after reading this. Greg Kot sets him up as both the protagonist and antagonist. There's a great balance of all angles of the story here. You never fully despise Tweedy or any of the members, but you see th [...]

    15. Great look at how Jeff's motivation to be the most insightful songwriter of our generation grew out of insecurity and manic depression. Kot explores Tweedy's "crash and burn" years in depth, which would give way to his eventual successful rehabilitation. Otherwise, it's always fun to get a behind-the-scenes look at a rock n' roll life. Particularly interesting is the destructive relationship Bennett and Tweedy once had together. Bennett's need to impress Tweedy by controlling production elements [...]

    16. This book was a great ride through the history of Tweedy. Kot's style is clear and direct, and thoroughly engaging. In his illumination of Tweedyology, Kot never downplays the frontman's faults, but you still come out at the end feeling like he's a guy you'd love to have as a friend (most of the time). Being from St. Louis, but having missed out on the Uncle Tupelo phenomenon, I felt like this book gave me a chance to play catch-up. It also gave me an extensive list of authors and musicians to c [...]

    17. Written by Greg Kot, of Sound Opinions on NPR. Kot catalogs Jeff Tweedy and Wilco from pre-Uncle Tupelo all the way to A Ghost is Born. A substantial portion of the book is pre-Wilco, but it definitely provides a foundation for understanding the dynamics of Uncle Tupelo and subsequent personality conflicts throughout Wilco's career. Kot is clearly a fan and some of the band-name dropping was way over my head, but a good read. It makes me appreciate Wilco's arrangement of music and their developm [...]

    18. Great read on midwestern roots rock and folk inspiration through the 90s. The story of Wilco is the story of Jeff Tweedy, and those interested in reading more about him should definitely give this a shot. Some great anecdotes of inside-the-living-room and inside-the-studio stuff, as well as a lot from Tweedy that makes you think about life, suburbia, Chicago, and the music making process in America and how it's evolved over the last 20 years. Tapping my foot to "Poor Places" right now, wondering [...]

    19. This book is about the making of (probably) my favorite album of all time, "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot." If you don't know the back story behind the making, and ultimately the releasing of this album and why this controversy is important or interesting; definitely check this one out. Read an any album review (like the one on pitchfork.pitchforkmedia/article) and you'll get a little bit of a back story. I recommend this book and the album highly

    20. This book is well written for a biography but a lot of the musical references and obscure band comparisons are a little beyond me. I like Wilco and borrowed the book from a friend. I think people who are very into Wilco and enjoyed Uncle Tupelo before that would enjoy this book. True music aficionados may get more out of this book than I am, alot of the bands I had never heard of. It's tough to come out of this not thinking Jeff Tweedy is an asshole.

    21. have to second another review I read on here, which is to say that one can know too much about a band. Wilco are a rare one, and the history of Uncle Tupelo is nicely included, but perhaps we're just too close to a career that is still reaching new peaks to appreciate their story in full at this point. It certainly doesn't quite carry the benefit of nostalgia or personality that one gets from reading, say, Dylan's autobiography.

    22. I enjoy reading Greg Kot's reviews of various music events around Chicago. I grabbed this book to take on our trip to warmer weather for a month since I knew that my sons had enjoyed the band for awhile. It was a good read. I liked reading about several individuals in the band growing up in Belleville since that is where my father was born. We would regularly visit all the German relatives there during my childhood. It's an interesting view of a band hitting their stride.

    23. This book somehow heightened my already-strong love for Greg Kot and had the added bonus of rekindling my interest in Jeff Tweedy/Wilco. Mr. Kot does an excellent job of somehow not taking sides in describing a band, or really person, in which others have been repeatedly forced to take sides. You know, Jeff Tweedy or the person he's decided he doesnt like. Really interesting and really well-written.

    24. I'm a fan of the radio show / podcast soundopinions - 2 rock critics who talk music every week. One of them authored this book about Wilco (a band I liked) so I thought I'd check it out.It was okay a little bit VH1 behind the music like - but interesting nonetheless as Wilco is now in its 4th or 5th iteration

    25. An enjoyably complete biopic on Wilco. Greg Kot has long removed himself from the objective observer category with respect to this band, but manages to write a balanced and informative text in any case. Interviews are well-collected and incisively used. Sadly, a 2009 reading makes this a bit dated.

    26. Wilco is my favorite modern-day band, and Greg Kot does a fine job with this band/Tweedy bio. My only complaint is that it's a tad light on early history and a touch heavy on the whole Yankee Hotel Foxtrot fiasco (even though it's an inspiring story). Still, it's a bit premature for a definitive bio of this band they're still making great music, after all!

    27. Jay Farrar quit Uncle Tupelo leaving Jeff Tweedy to do things by himself which he has proven quite capable of. I was impressed by Tweedy always pushing different music regardless of the consequences and how he proved if you do your own thing other people eventually fall into line instead of telling you what to do.

    28. A nice piece of Uncle Tupelo / Wilco history up to the recording of 'A Ghost is Born'-- although much of the second half of the book is well documented in the documentary film 'I Am Trying To Break Your Heart', so if you've seen that, the 'Yankee Hotel Foxtrot' period of the book will hold few surprises. Still an interesting read for an avid Wilco fan.

    29. Strictly for Wilco fans, a very insightful book on how Jeff Tweedy progresses from the early days of Uncle Tupelo to pushing Wilco to creating some of the best music of the last decade. He breaks a few eggs in doing so and this book provides a balanced look at how difficult it is for an individual and a group of people to be creative over an extended period of time.

    30. Solid biography, and one that I am sure was very tough to write. Coming from Kot, I expected more insight into the quality of output brought about by Tweedy's artistic bents. But that being said, getting all the present and ex-band members thoughts on the goings-on of Wilco was a fascinating read. Short and very readable for Wilco fans.

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