Wilco made the bold move of writing an entire album — a double album, no less — about music with 1996’s Being There.
Frontman Jeff Tweedy wanted to write songs about his experiences both playing and listening to music and, despite the obvious dangers inherent in taking such a path, wound up crafting a superior album.
Being There features songs about being lonely on the road, songs about the songwriting process, songs about being saved by rock-and-roll, both as an artist and a fan.
One of the most poignant tracks is ‘The Lonely 1,’ in which a fan escapes his own loneliness by feeling a connection to the lead singer of his favorite band. The song makes me think of Elliott Smith, a man who suffered plenty but whose music alleviated the suffering of countless others.
I don’t know whether the singer in this song really is “the lonely one” that the fan imagines him to be, or if that’s just a projection. But the point is that it really doesn’t matter. He is what this fan needs him to be at that moment.
Arms reached out for your autograph
And as you flashed your backstage pass
I caught your eye with a camera’s flash
When the band came out they stood behind you
Cymbals crashed, the lights went blue
You stood alone in the halo’s haze
Shiny guitar hung on gold lamé
And you, you were the lonely one
You were the lonely one
When you perform it’s so intense
When the critics pan I write in your defense
I understand I’m just a fan, I’m just a fan
When I get home I turn off the alarm
I’ve checked the phone, no messages on
I play the ones from yesterday
I play your song just to hear you say that….
You, you’re the lonely one
You are the lonely one