Song of the Day #5,233: ‘The Late Greats’ – Wilco

Continuing my look at the albums of 2004…

I must have been highly anticipating Wilco’s A Ghost is Born, and yet I don’t know if I ever got around to hearing it.

This album, the band’s fifth, followed the widely acclaimed 2001 Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. It was that album, along with its predecessor Summerteeth, that got me into Wilco, and by the time 2004 rolled around, I was a big fan of all four of their releases.

So how is it that their next album is entirely off my radar? The album isn’t in my iTunes library, so it appears I never bought it (back in those pre-streaming days, I would have had to).

It wouldn’t have been the reviews, which were largely positive. And I doubt I would have missed the release — A Ghost is Born made it to #8 on the Billboard chart and won a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album.

Well, whatever the reason, I’m listening to it for the first time now and my verdict is: meh. Looks like I didn’t miss much.

I hear the bones of some decent tunes, but too often they’re laden with weird instrumental digressions. One track runs 15 minutes, 13 of which are made up of dissonant electronic noises symbolic of the migraines suffered by lead singer Jeff Tweedy. Who needs that?

Wilco has released seven more albums since this one, and by all accounts they’re quite good. But I still cling to those first four. A Ghost is Born was my jumping off point, and I didn’t even know it.

[Verse 1]
The greatest lost track of all time
The Late Greats’ “Turpentine”
You can’t hear it on the radio
You can’t hear it anywhere you go

[Verse 2]
The best band will never get signed
K-Settes starring Butcher’s Blind
Are so good, you won’t ever know
They never even played a show
You can’t hear them on the radio

[Verse 3]
The greatest singer in rock and roll
Would have to be Romeo
His vocal chords are made of gold
He just looks a little too old

[Verse 4]
The best song will never get sung
The best life never leaves your lungs
So good, you won’t ever know
I never hear it on the radio
Can’t hear it on the radio

2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #5,233: ‘The Late Greats’ – Wilco

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    It really is unlike you not to have had this album, or the seven that followed, on your radar, but I guess you haven’t missed much.

  2. Peg says:

    I getting a migraine just reading your review 😜

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