Late last Saturday night, holed up in a hotel room in Knoxville, working on the final edits for my new book (Imagining the Kingdom: How Worship Works), providence dealt me a little grace: Wilco was playing on PBS’ “Austin City Limits.”
While Wilco is a huge part of my music library, I’ve never seen them in concert. So this little glimpse was a revelation for me. Seeing them perform enabled me to appreciate their sound in a whole new way. It’s like they’re still very much a “live” band that just happens to record their music. Because once you see some of their more atmospheric “noise” (as my wife not-so-affectionately describes it) actually produced by living musicians on real instruments in the synergy of a band, all of a sudden everything makes sense as it never could without that performative context. I feel like I finally “get” Wilco in ways I’ve never known before.
And then at the end is a marvelous little interview with Tweedy about the creative process that resonated with exactly what I was working on for Imagining the Kingdom–about the intertwinement of artistic creation, aesthetic appreciation, and our preconscious being-in-the-world. Cool stuff.