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The Cash Machine Is Blue: why Wilco is Worldchanging
Rohit Gupta, 17 May 05

wilco_yhf.jpgOne of the friends I miss talking to, and learning from, is an American journalist who was staying in Bombay for a couple of years. He burned a music CD for me, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot by Wilco, and I was hooked from the word go. The sound is almost sublime, and in all that fluid noise I can sense patterns which are highly original in contemporary music.

For someone who grew up on Pink Floyd and Grateful Dead, I would even go so far as to say that Wilco is the great band of the information age, a band that has integrated societal noise into its finely tuned signals. Some of the lyrics are absolutely divine:

Jesus, don't cry
You can rely on me, honey
You can combine anything you want
I'll be around
You were right about the stars
Each one is a setting sun

What's even more interesting - Wilco is worldchanging.

In a recent piece for Cut-up magazine, Lawrence Lessig interviewed Jeff Tweedy for Why Wilco Is the Future Of Music .

The album I mentioned above was turned down by record companies, but Wilco went ahead and released it on the net anyway. Verdict of the online crowd? You guessed it. Good business comes from a great personal ethic, and I think Wilco exemplify the true artist's philosophy in this crazy, confusing world:

"Music," he explained, "is different" from other intellectual property. Not Karl Marx different - this isn't latent communism. But neither is it just "a piece of plastic or a loaf of bread." The artist controls just part of the music-making process; the audience adds the rest. Fans' imagination makes it real. Their participation makes it live. "We are just troubadours," Tweedy told me. "The audience is our collaborator. We should be encouraging their collaboration, not treating them like thieves."

He uttered this with the passion of a teacher explaining the most fundamental truths. Words echo in this poet's mind many times before they are spoken. These words had echoed many times before. But when I asked him to explain the extremism in this war, passion faded and disbelief took its place. Commenting on a court decision to ban all music sampling without a license, he said one word: racism. And he seemed genuinely confounded by those who use the courts to punish their fans. "If Metallica still needs money," he almost whispered, "then there's something really, really wrong." He would protest this extremism, he explained, by living a different life. By inviting, by creating, by inspiring music, and by ignoring wars about plastic.

Here, by the way, is Wilco's official site.

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Very irritatingly, that was *not* an interview for Cut-Up magazine. They just republished Lessig's column in Wired (, without permission. They'll be hearing from us.

Chris Anderson
EIC, Wired

Posted by: Chris Anderson on 22 May 05

well well, ain't that irony for ya?

copyright collecting on an article about tweedy, of all people!

yer killin me


Posted by: Michael Dunkley on 24 May 05



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