Kirkus Reviews QR Code


Music That Changed My Life and Life That Changed My Music

by Jeff Tweedy

Pub Date: Nov. 7th, 2023
ISBN: 9780593472521
Publisher: Dutton

The Wilco front man muses on 50 favorite songs.

Describing his latest as a “weird little book of love letters to songs,” Tweedy offers a deeply personal, Dylan-esque, “philosophical” take on the works that have influenced him as a songwriter and a person. Woven in and out of his diverse choices are Rememories, “dreamlike passages recounting specific events” in his life. A “bong-bruised, coughed-up lung of a song,” Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water” made the “first dent in my musical mind.” Next, the author writes about how Leo Sayer’s “Long Tall Glasses” makes him think about his father. Bob Dylan is Tweedy’s favorite artist, and he chooses “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” because it’s the first of Dylan’s songs he fell for. Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” feels “like it’s been a part of me for as long as I’ve had a me to feel,” and Patti Smith’s “Horses” is a “shard of poetry sung with the spirit and cadence of a taunt.” At age 12, Tweedy was blown away by “My Sharona”—and still is. Whenever he thinks about Volcano Suns’ “Balancing Act,” he feels “frozen forever in the amber of my youth.” The New Lost City Rambler’s “Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down” helped the miserable teenaged author feel better, and the Minutemen’s “History Lesson—Part II” is the “ground on which I stand.” The song “Little Johnny Jewel,” by Television, “simultaneously ripped me apart and held me together.” Tweedy adores the Ramones and “The Weight,” especially the version with Mavis Staples from The Last Waltz. In the early days of Wilco, he often sang Carole King’s “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” as an encore. He wishes he had written Souled American’s “Before Tonight,” and his jog down memory lanes closes with the Staple Singers’ “I’ll Take You There.”

Easygoing and thoroughly entertaining.