By Jake Coyle
MANCHESTER, Tenn. — When it’s remarked to Jeff Tweedy while walking backstage at the recent Bonnaroo Music Festival that it’s a shame he won’t have time to catch most of the festival’s other acts, he turns and smiles.
“Yeah, well, I don’t really like music.”
The Wilco songwriter and frontman is, of course, an obsessive music listener. And on the band’s new album, “Wilco (The Album),” Tweedy exuberantly expresses his love of both rock music and its fans.
On the album’s tongue-in-cheek opener, “Wilco (The Song),” Tweedy sings: “Do you dabble in depression?/ Is someone twisting a knife in your back? ... Wilco will love you, baby.”
The song — like the album’s arch title — is a bit of a goof. But it’s also an earnest ode to Wilco’s fans and, more generally, to rock music fandom.
Tweedy says the song isn’t necessarily about Wilco loving you, but the feeling of connecting with any musician. At one point, he planned an extended part of the song where he rattled off J.Lo, Nick Lowe and Devo — and even briefly pursued getting them to sing on the song.
“Does music provide a consolation that you can’t find anywhere else in most people’s lives? I would say yes,” says Tweedy. “I don’t see any reason not to acknowledge that in an exuberant kind of way.”
On Wilco’s seventh album — and first to retain the same lineup — Tweedy & Co. have seemingly arrived at a plateau in their career: confident, relaxed and not afraid to, say, perform on the “Tonight” show dressed in country music-style sequin suits — as they did in a recent appearance.
Tweedy calls the record a “Whitman sampler of the different aspects and obsessions of Wilco.” He believes that came out of a five-night residency they held last year in their hometown, Chicago, that forced the band — which includes the expert guitarist Nels Cline — to lay “some claim of ownership” to the varied Wilco catalog.
By Jake Coyle
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