BOOK REVIEW: Jeff Tweedy’s “Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back)…”

Anyone who has heard a Jeff Tweedy interview or listened to one of his records knows the Wilco frontman is introspective, clever, and dryly funny. That his new memoir shares these traits is no surprise.

What is surprising, based on the somewhat cold exterior Tweedy has projected in Greg Kot’s excellent Wilco: Learning How to Die as well as the two Wilco/Tweedy documentaries, is how much passion (for music, family, and – above all – creativity) bleeds through.

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This passion is as illuminating as it is contagious, especially for fellow musicians. His insights on the value of making art are the backbone of his memoir, featuring heartfelt tales of how music saved his own damaged life and of witnessing the power of art therapy on hardcore drug addicts while in rehab. Tweedy makes a compelling case that everyone has a spark of creativity that can – and should – be ignited.

While this might sound like a cheesy Ted Talk gone alt-country, Tweedy grounds his motivation in thoughtful, self-deprecating stories about music’s outsized impact on his life, along with Wilco’s unique trajectory in the music business. These stories examine the collaborations and fallouts that have marked Wilco since its inception, and Tweedy doesn’t gloss over the painful moments peppered throughout his life and career, particularly in his relationships with the two Jays (Farrar and Bennett).

Tweedy also sheds light on his own songwriting process, and anyone who has poured over his often cryptic lyrics will be fascinated by his methods. (One particularly interesting passage deep dives into the “I assassin down the avenue” line from “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart”). Songwriters can learn from his song-a-day discipline and unconventional writing exercises.

It’s no coincidence that Tweedy’s new solo album – a companion piece to this memoir – is titled WARM. The album’s lyrics, included at the end of Let’s Go…, show a writer comfortable, perhaps for the first time, with laying his emotions on the table. Let’s Go… strips away the cryptic and cold in favor of the straightforward and warm, and it’s a welcome, inspiring place to be.

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