Monday, May 18, 2009

Song of the Week 5/15/09

Wilco - "You Never Know"

Wilco ended up having to stream their new album--which they dubbed Wilco (The Stream)--on their website after it leaked last week. And after a couple of days of listening to it one song seemed to be the obvious choice for the first single, "You Never Know." It's Jeff Tweedy's catchiest song since "Heavy Metal Drummer" and has a slicker than usual sound for the band.

Then I woke up Friday morning with "You Never Know" in my head and it dawned on me why it was so catchy--it's an out and out homage to the Traveling Wilburys. The wall of strummed guitars and the descending piano riff during the chorus? Straight from Jeff Lynne's production handbook. The chord progression those acoustic guitars are bashing out? It could be mistaken for "Won't Last Long" from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers highly underrated 1999 album Echo. The dual slide guitar parts in the solo? George Harrison patented those with the Wilburys and his solo career. Those massive backing vocals? I swear you could hear a mix of Roy Orbison and Bob Dylan in there.

Normally I'd be a bit dismissive of someone so closely aping someone else's style. But this is done so well (and sounds like so much fun) I'm sure Tweedy and company knew exactly what they were doing in paying tribute to one of the best supergroups of our time.

Oh, and the rest of the album is worth listening to as well.

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