Sometime around 1995, JBC-15 asked me if I wanted to go to some tiny corner bar in Sacramento to see Wilco play. Who? "it's the off-shoot of Uncle Tupelo. The one the not-the-main-guy formed." Hmm, nah. I said. Then soon after I picked up their first album, AM. Not bad at all. Better than I expected, but not groundbreaking. Then the second album soon came out, Being There. $15 at the Tower Records in the Foggy Bottom section of DC. I popped the disc in the car stereo and started my 20 minute ride home. The first track, Misunderstood, was brilliant. It was the unrealized soundtrack I had in my head. The album is a raucous, wide-open, unedited, take me as I am outpouring from a band that was just starting to understand who they were. Or, I should say, a band leader who was just starting to understand that he had permission to move beyond the strict confines he felt at being the Jr. partner of Uncle Tupelo.
And then there is this little song. It's called Red-Eyed and Blue and it fits in the album as a brief little interlude. A link between two other more grandiose songs. It's simple and delicate and showcases a raw, vulnerable side of the band's leader, Jeff Tweedy. The now exiled Jay Bennett should not be overlooked either for his contribution. The multi-instrumentalist was wonderful at picking out catchy melodies on whatever instrument he played. Here, on the slightly out of tune piano, he plays a simple and wonderful little counter-melody that accents the chord progressions beautifully. Tweedy's voice is minimal and stark and the whimsical whistle at the end of the song accentuates the "just passing by, don't mind me" approach of the song. In the end, it was this song, more than any other, that sent me into my long Wilco addiction. One I still wrestle with.