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Old 06-24-2004, 04:32 PM   #16
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Found this on a Wilco message board and found it quite interesting.

In listening to AGIB repeatedly this weekend, I've come to the opinion that Tweedy has written an opera. It's the story of a man who loves, loses that love, falls into temptation and sin, reaches out for help, falls again, but in the end dies enlightened.

Don't cue the fat lady with the Viking helmet quite yet, but take a second and think about how I'm hearing this album right now. It all started about the fourth time I heard the last three tracks of the record played in order. I'm not a live recording collector, so I hadn't heard tapes of these songs from the tours and I think that allowed me to really listen to them with an open mind and ear. I'd gotten familiar with the lyrics and I'd read some of the thoughts here on VC about Theologians, Less Than You Think and Late Greats.

Almost like a bolt out of the blue it dawned on me that these three tracks are meant to be linked together and tell a story. I then began to think about the rest of the songs and just spent the whole weekend digging into them. The result is a very cogent theme from start to finish.

Obviously, these are my interpretations and thoughts… so other listeners will surely come away from this record with a totally different take. I also realize that Tweedy may have had something entirely different in mind… but that's the beauty of this art form isn't it? We can all take whatever we want from Jeff's songs… but I can't help but feel like he's created a big-picture concept album with this one and it fascinates me.

So now for the good stuff. I see AGIB as a tragedy with 12 chapters (and two distinct acts). We have a tragic hero who tries, yet can't escape his fate. Jeff's lyrics strike me as having been written together in a clear narrative arch… with songs an dcompostiions being written to best compliment and express the lyrics. I've got no idea if this is how he works but I can't help but be suspicious that this collection of songs were not written haphazzardly.

Let's get going:

Chapter One: At Least That's What You Said

This songs is an argument between two lovers. Our hero (let's call him Everyman) and his lover have fought and are deciding to go their separate ways. Everyman offers to leave to make it better (lyric: "maybe if I leave you'll want me to come back home"). She tells him to leave her alone (lyric: "maybe all you need is to leave me alone") but he doesn't quite believe she feels that way (his doubt revealed in the repeated lyric: "at least that's what you said"). He admits to inciting her anger (lyric: "you're irresistible when you're mad") even though he's "immune" to it. He has a black eye which she gave him.

The guitar solo section to end the songs is the ensuing argument. I hear two distinct guitar voices tweedy uses that are battling back and forth. It really sounds like two people screaming at each other, throwing things, crying.

The love is broken.

Chapter Two: Hell Is Chrome

Everyman has been thrown out of his lover's life and temptation immediately arrives in his life. "The Devil" shows up and is made of chrome. Everyman is tempted by this Devil (lyric: "come with me, you must go, so I went") and he gives in.

I don't hear this as a literal "tempted by satan" thing. Everyman is being lured to the city, the place of vices and crimes. (note: later in "Hummingbird" Manhattan is described as having "deep chrome canyons" so I think the references to "chrome" here refer to the city. Therefore, Hell = the City). He arrives in this urban "Hell" where "everything is clean, so precise and towering" and is "welcomed with open arms." He "received so much help in every way" and eventually feels like he "belongs."

So our hero has left his lover and has fled to the city where temptation lurks everywhere. The repeated refrain of "come with me" shows us how strong the pull is.

Chapter Three: Spiders (kidsmoke)

Everyman is now tangled in the webs of the "spiders" he consorts with in the city of temptation. I wonder if the term "recent rash of kidsmoke" implies that he's gotten himself into trouble with drugs. It seems to fit with the theme of a lost hero who has strayed far from his love.

He writes "telescopic poems" (telescopes look at things that are far away… could his poems be about his lost love, whom he's too far away from to see without a "telescope"?) but is still satisfied to be on his own (lyric: "it's good to be alone.")

He seems confused with this life (lyric: why can't they say what they mean? Why can't they just say what they mean?") but just asks for someone to "fool me with a kiss of kidsmoke". At the end he asks "Is there blood on my hands?" which seems to imply that he's worried he's done something very wrong… but then shrugs it off with the line "I just do what I'm told."

Everyman is all tangled in his webs… yet he yearns for what he once had. The songs ends with loud, chaotic guitar work showing his confusion.

Chapter Four: Muzzle of Bees

This song strikes me as a sudden break in the haze for Everyman. Perhaps this is one of the "telescopic poems" he sang of earlier.

We find him optimistic for the first time in the album. Dogs bark and scare people, but to him they're laughing and he's perfectly safe with the fence between he and the dogs. He's watching the sun rise and set and feeling the breezes wash over him. He even reaches out to her (lyric: "I'm assuming you got my message on you machine") even though he still knows she may no longer love him (lyric: "I'm assuming you love me, but you know what that means"). He tells her of his vision of sitting with her, his head on her knees… asking her to take him back.

But that's not to be. As the songs finishes, the guitar again climbs and soars into high dramatic phrases and we're left feeling unresolved. She has turned him down.

Chapter Five: Hummingbird

Everyman has just reached out to his love but she has rejected him. He runs away and tries to become no more than an "echo." He hits the road (mentions of the south west and Manhattan) and does his best to forget all about her… but he can't (lyric: "she appears in his dreams but in his car and in his arms a dream can be anything") and he's upset that she no longer feels for him (lyric: "a cheap sunset on a television set could upset her, but he never could").

The refrain seems to imply that he would rather have her remember him as his old happy self and not as he is now… a desperate loner. He sleeps under the stars so that he'll have company and won't die alone. He longs for her, but can't have her. Now all he hopes is that she remembers him in a happy light.

Chapter Six: Handshake Drugs

Our hero hits bottom. The scene is daybreak (lyric: the blinds were being pulled down on the dew"), he's been up all night and he needs to cut the pain (lyric: "Inside. Out of love. What a laugh. I was looking for you"), so he goes in search of "handshake drugs" to dull the pain. He uses them to forget who he is and forget the pain of his loss (lyric: "and if I ever was myself, it wasn't at night").

But as he hits bottom he knows that what he wants more than anything is to be with her. He tells her "it's OK for you to tell me what you want me to be. I believe that's the only way for me to be, exactly what you want me to be." He's begging her to take him back and says that he wants her to shape him back into what she needs. In order to get her back he'll do whatever she asks of him. He's desperate and he needs her.

The song ends in a storm of feedback (drama, tension, emotions) as ACT ONE closes on our two characters.

(Let's flip the record over to side two for the rest of the story)

Chapter Seven: Wishful Thinking

Just like the last song ended in noise, this one opens that way. It's almost like an orchestra warming up before the end of intermission.

Here we have a gentle, beautiful song in which Everyman and his love are back together. She has given him a second chance finally and they are deeply immersed in "wishful thinking" that they can survive. He asks her to "fill up your mind with all it can know but don't forget that your body can let it all go" as if alluding to the weakness of his body (drugs?) that threaten the strength of his mind which never let go of her through the whole ordeal since the first song of the album.

The first two verses seem to be him telling her about his struggles. Mentions of "chambers of chains" "casting of spells" "pressure devices" and "hell in a nutshell" set the tone. But throughout they repeat the refrain "what would we be without wishful thinking?" which shows he deeply he wants to make it work.

I love the third and fourth verses where she "opens her arms as far as they can go" and even as she takes off her dress he asks her to forget the "embarrassing poem… written when I was in alone in love with you." This seems like a small allusion to those "telescopic poems" from earlier.

The songs ends with him saying "I thank my lucky stars that you're not me" as if to acknowledge that he's weak, but needs her to survive. And they go on with their wishful thinking. I get this truly touching scene in my head of a couple embracing with his head on her knees and her with a strong resolute look, prepared to see him through his pain and demons.

Chapter Eight: Company In My Back

Uh Oh.

Everyman is having a hard time dealing again. He "attacks with love" and "moves so slow" with a "slightly crushing hand" but it's still too hard for him (lyric: "holy sh#t, there's a company in my back!"). This thing isn't easy… it's work.

He's struggling at the relationship… he tries to "curve his flight" and do what he should but he can't help that old defeatist attitude in the face of the struggles (lyric: "I will always die, so you can remember me.").

Chapter Nine: I'm A Wheel

The worm has turned. Everyman has fallen from grace again and it's evidenced by the up-tempo, aggressive nature of this song. Note the prominence of the German word for "NO!" in the lyrics. Indeed he's a wheel and he's about to turn on her.

The songs ends with Tweedy's protracted scream, a hot guitar riff and the repetition of "I'm gonna turn on you, turn on you, turn on you, turn on you!" Everyman, despite his best intentions, has reverted to his old ways. He's using… he's fighting with her… he's done.

Chapter Nine: Theologians

This song begins the three-song cycle that ties up the story of our hero. I think it takes place later in his life. He's older now and is expressing how he's gained insights into his soul. Perhaps he's on his deathbed. Perhaps his lover is once again by his side and he's telling her how he's figured out the big picture.

He now knows that "theologians don't know nothing about my soul" and that he has gained redemption by filling "his heart with little things" along the way. And how he sees himself as an ocean of emotion.

He tells her that he's dying (lyric: I'm going away, and you'll look for me. Where I'm going you cannot come" which has been pointed out in the "Theologians" thread to be a Bible quote from the Gospel of John) and then tells her that before anyone can take his life away he give sit up freely and is ready to die. (not unlike Christ's self-sacrifice, eh?) Note that he now say "I'm a notion, all emotion" instead of an "ocean" as he said before. He's no longer in the physical world… he's just a notion now. He's gone, he's a cherry ghost, his spirit is freed.

Chapter Eleven: Less Than You Think

This song is an illustration of his death. He's describing the sensation of dying. The mind "oddly tapping, a high-pitched drone", "as your spine starts to shine, a shiver in your soul" and the fist that punches a hole in the sky to heaven. At this moment he understands that life is far simpler than he ever knew. "There's so much less to this than you think." He sees God "lift a cup to toast the lightning"

Then the song drifts into 12 minutes of "noise." This is death. Just like he describes in the lyrics… it's oddly tapping… high pitched and it hums.

Wilco has created a 12 minute composition that contemplates the sensation of death. Pretty heavy.

This song simultaneously is touching as hell… and creeps me out to the core. What an incredible accomplishment.

Chapter Twelve: EPILOGUE The Late Greats

Just from the title we know what we're talking about here… Heaven. "Late Greats" are dead people. Our hero is now in heaven (having learned, as he says in Theologians, that he saved his soul by cherishing and loving the small things). He's listening to the greatest song he's ever heard, by the greatest band of all time, but you on earth will never hear it because you've got to wait until it's your turn.

Is this Tweedy's vision of heaven? The greatest concert you've ever been to… never-ending? Sounds pretty great to me. I think this is a pretty fantastic allegory… and a great way to end the whole story.

FIN
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Old 06-28-2004, 02:51 PM   #17
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I returned home from vacation to find my pre-ordered copy along with the t-shirt......life is good...
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Old 06-28-2004, 04:39 PM   #18
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http://www.metacritic.com/music/arti...o/ghostisborn/
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Old 06-29-2004, 08:46 AM   #19
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Dont know if this has been mentioned, but if you throw the cd into your pc, you get a live show they played at The Vic in Chicago from earlier this month....
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Old 07-08-2004, 08:48 AM   #20
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Can we really be done talking about this already? Here is a bit of Wilco news to chew on....

http://www.filter-mag.com/news/interior.1518.html
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Old 07-08-2004, 02:10 PM   #21
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This record just keeps growing on me. Lately I love "Muzzle of Bees" and "Company in My Back."

And thanks for the link to the book info. I met Rick Moody through my work (yeah, namedropper ) last year and he mentioned it but I didn't know when it was coming out. He is indeed a huge fan.
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Old 07-08-2004, 02:37 PM   #22
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If you have quicktime, this site is pretty entertaining. It has some of the photos that are going to be in the book:

www.thewilcobook.com/

Also, the description on Amazon makes it sound like the coolest thing ever:

Quote:
This is a book about Wilco and the pictorial, literary, and musical world it conjures up on record and in performance. Created in collaboration with Jeff Tweedy, Wilco, and Tony Margherita, this primarily visual book explores what Wilco does, how it does it, and where it all comes together. The band narrates the book in the form of long captions accompanying a variety of images: a Korean postcard, a Stratocaster, a backstage practice session, and so on. Along the way, central topics such as instruments, touring, and recording are covered both in general (i.e., what happens, physically, when a guitar string breaks) and specific to Wilco. Just as the band assembles its disparate talents and inspirations to make music, this book coheres in the end to reveal a 40 minute CD of original, unreleased songs. Just as Wilco experiments with music by turning convention on its head, this book is an utterly new take on the old genre of the rock 'n' roll book. The Wilco Book will look and read like a Wilco record sounds; it's a translation of the band’s sensibility from sound into print. I don't have any idea where we fit in. From my outsider perspective, I’d have to say we don’t. But I wouldn’t want it any other way. I’m really happy about this mysterious blend of commercial success and artistic freedom. --Jeff Tweedy Edited by Peter Buchanan-Smith and Daniel Nadel.
Essay by Rick Moody.


Also, I believe the album debuted at number 8. Not bad.
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Old 07-09-2004, 11:27 AM   #23
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http://www.glidemagazine.com/downloads.php
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Old 07-09-2004, 12:59 PM   #24
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Awesome EP
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Old 07-09-2004, 01:57 PM   #25
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I really loving Ghost

(I'm wearing my new wilco shirt now)

Sometimes I tire of 10 minutes of white noise...butother times I can lie down and listen to it...sometimes such inoffensive noise can be very comforting.
and if you don't wanna listen to it, just skip to the next track.

The last track is such a catchy one.

Hummingbird, I'm a Wheel, Late Greats --->summerteeth

god I love Company at my back! great melody

great album

to hell pitchfork and their lousy reviews
(sometimes they have reviews I agree with though)
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Old 07-09-2004, 03:07 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally posted by DiGi
Awesome EP
Here is another....

http://www.rebernak.com/adamFoley/wilco2002.05.18.mp3/
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Old 07-13-2004, 11:31 AM   #27
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More Wilco news from Pitchfork this time...

http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/news/04-07/13.shtml
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Old 07-13-2004, 12:49 PM   #28
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Fine. Don't reschedule my canceled show then.

Finally listened to the live show on A Ghost is Born...it is amazing!
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