Listen-Along: “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot”


1) I Am Trying to Break Your Heart

Tucker Phillips: Wake up Wilco, it’s time for school!

Jackson Scott: But mom!


JS: You can’t make me! I’m going to assassin down the avenue.

TP: The sound of bleary eyes. Jeff Tweedy’s voice is like a sepia-toned photograph of puppies frolicking in the snow.

JS: I’m not sure about that.

André Theuerkauf: *Husky puppies.

TP: It’s *like* that. We didn’t mention how amazing that first bass note was but hey, that first bass note is pretty amazing.

JS: It’s like a sepia-toned photograph of a couple kissing in a park…but neither is him.

TP: :'(

Ian Neal: I’m not getting puppies from Tweedy either.

Michael Frett: I like what’s going on with all of those drums and such.

JS: The drums on this record are p. cool.

TP: And those piano plinks.

IN: I actually really like that imagery Jackson, it’s something like that.

JS: But Jeff’s not too worked up about it.

AT: It’s as if the plinko game from teh price is right made brilliant music to the rhythm of the plinko disc falling.

TP: Jeff seems more like a Wheel watcher.

IN: This song is…sad, but also not sad.

JS: Wilco does that.

MF: Just watching those wheel go round and round.

JS: Emotional vacancy.

TP: Every line in this song is amazing.

JS: #defensemechanism


IN: Agreed, fantastic lyrics.

TP: If Ghost is a migraine, this seems like a hangover.

JS: Ghost is extraordinarily underrated.

TP: It’s like YHF‘s older brother.

JS: What’s your opinion on the record we aren’t talking about?

TP: Eh.

JS: Wrong.

TP: You mean the blue album?

JS: …

2) Kamera

JS: Secretly the best song.

AT: Is that a great drop D or what, half step down maybe? Dunno, but I’m loving it.

TP: The backing vocals seal it. I don’t know my Ds from my Bs. Jeff’s a dick, seriously. Hiding his lies, counting on a heart he knows by heart, etc. It’s not OK.

JS: He was entirely messed up on drugs if I remember correctly. At least he admits it’s not ok.

TP: Acceptance is key.

JS: That guitar.

TP: Those twinkles.

3) Radio Cure

JS: This is secretly the best song.

IN: I was just going to say that.

TP: So I’ve said it before but the bass on this song totally killed a set of speakers I had. A fitting end, I think.

JS: #damn

IN: Secretly the best lyrics.

JS: Riiight. This song has so many feels.

TP: I don’t wanna be that guy, but this song doesn’t do much for me.

IN: Get out.

JS: Get out.

TP: It’s pretty and all, but I love everything else on here so much more. It’s the only song here that gives me a mopey vibe. The “picking apples” line saves it though.

JS: This song is secretly the crux of the entire album. The chorus is a heartcrusher. Cheer up.

TP: Working on it.

IN: Oh man, the last two minutes of this song are one of my favorite parts of the album.

TP: Had a lot of bands used radio static like this? It’s such a strangely emotional sound.

MF: It’s a pretty lovely sound.

TP: Definitely.

JS: That’s why I got into this album.

AT: It’s like using a satellite to try and pick up signals of other life, but…you hear…nothing…

TP: Echoes, breh.

JS: It’s about connection/reception.

TP: Echoes out forever. Jeff’s gotta tune his dial a little better next time.

AT: Sounds like someone had a bad long distance relationship.

4) War on War

TP: Not so secretly the best song.

MF: I heard you like acoustic guitars in stereo.

AT: How many instruments have I already heard in the first minute?

JS: The guitars on this album are waaayyy better than they should be.

TP: Wilco’s a band that knows their way around a gee-tar. And a sweet honky-tonk outfit.Jim+ORourke+JimORourke

JS: Would now be a good time to mention that one of my favorite artists ever mixed this?

MF: Mention that ish!

TP: Jim love letter time?

JS: Hey guys, that one of my favorite artists mixed this!

TP: Jim O’Rourke’s the name, making good bands better is the game.

JS: Dear Jim,

I love you




JS: Did anyone catch that lyric? You have to learn how to die…

TP: I’m lost in the airwaves.

MF: Having never listened to Wilco before, I have to say that I love this song.

AT: The last note made it the best.

5) Jesus, Etc.


MF: Fiddle intros, man. Fiddle intros.

TP: I mean, ok fine it’s gorgeous and all.

JS: Tucker, don’t cry.

TP: :'(

IN: I saw Wilco and Andrew Bird play that little intro part. It was pretty cool. Chicago boys.

AT: Woah, what a line.

JS: This is secretly the best song on the album.

TP: Chi-town represent.

AT: There it is again.

TP: This is the last song on the album that I think is cool. After this, they’re all MIND-BLOWINGLY COOL. Which is a little bit cooler.

IN: I think it’s a pretty good tune, but it’s not top 5 on this album for me.

JS: This album is amazingly sequenced.

TP: Tells a story for sure.

JS: I know I’m a sequencing nut, but dayum.

IN: I like this song more when I listen to the album from start to finish than if I hear it on its own.

JS: And this is only my #4 of 2002. What a year! Totally agreed with you Ian.

TP: I agree Ian, makes way more sense to me as part of the album.

AT: Albums are the best way to listen to any song, personally.

JS: It depends on the song and album.

TP: You’re a dying breed, Theuerfkauf.

6) Ashes of American Flags

IN: This song.


TP: That guitar riff. Those lyrics.

MF: So does Wilco like Bob Dylan or something like that? Because this song gives me a weird idea that they like Bob Dylan.

TP: They’re acquainted.

JS: It’d be weird if they didn’t.

TP: This song destroys me.

IN: Awesome line.

MF: That’s some heavy lyrics going on there.

TP: The way this song ebbs and flows is just astounding to me.

IN: “I shake like a toothache when I hear myself sing.” Just, wow.

JS: Wilco masters dynamics on this record.

TP: I would like to salute. The ashes of American flags.

AT: That’s an odd note that guitar hits. But it’s also kinda the right one.

JS: Byeeeoooo!

JS: That’s meant to be a laser noise.


AT: Woah.


AT: Rocket ships?

TP: Laika, come home!

AT: Worm hole.

IN: This album has its Revolution #9 moments.

7) Heavy Metal Drummer

TP: This song is def. not one of those moments.

IN: Yay! This song. No, not at all.

TP: I always saw the spacier stuff as more of a Pink Floyd kinda thing.

JS: I never noticed that drum shuffle.

TP: This song is adorable by the way.

MF: Kicking it into Insterstellar Overdrive and whatnot. With all the spacey stuff.kiss

JS: That bass drum though.

TP: Heavy.

JS: That bass guitar.

TP: This song is beautiful AND stoned.

JS: Two things.

IN: This song is so summery, and not even because of the summery lyrics. Or not only because of them.

MF: That is one hell of a drum beat.

TP: Yup, always puts me in a park in May.

MF: I’ll never look at KISS songs the same way again.

JS: Tucker, you discovered teleportation?

TP: I’m a magic man. Before we move on, everyone please adjust your volume upwards by 2 or 3 notches.

IN: Check.

AT: Fasten our seat-belts?

8) I’m the Man Who Loves You

JS: This is one of my favorite songs EVER.

TP: This song is perfection.

MF: Neil Young. “Down by the River.” That solo right there.

AT: I don’t need to hear any more. It’s my favorite.

TP: This song makes me happy.

MF: Guys, I love this song. More than the other song that I said I love.

JS: It gets weirder.

TP: It gets BETTER.

AT: Wowzers. I have a new favorite Wilco song.

TP: HORNS! That other Wilco song is so blue right now.

AT: I don’t know how much more I can take.

JS: The chords made with the vocals and horns are sooo weird.

AT: Too much good.


AT: It’s so good, I hate it, but I just can’t hate it really in the end, so I end up loving it.

MF: It’s like everything I love about old school American music thrown into one song.

JS: Plus static.

AT: I have a new song to learn now. Dang it, I was gonna study.

TP: Give me 40 Wilcos.

MF: I love that guitar.

AT: They should retire that guitar’s number.

9) Pot Kettle Black

TP: That opening always seems so simple but there’s a ton going on.

JS: That’s kind of true of this whole album.

TP: #truth

IN: Agreed.

TP: I don’t have much to say about this one. It’s just so perfectly built.

JS: I have to admit that I never ever remember what this song sounds like. But it is always good.

TP: This is the sleeper hit. The sucker punch. The…song that’s good that you forget about.

JS: That guitar interlude.

AT: His voice just sounds like an extension of the instruments, and blends in. In a good way.

MF: This is the type of song where I’ll enjoy it on the album, but never really go to it as an individual song.

JS: It’s the song that has the important job of transitioning between “Man Who Loves You” and “Poor Places”.

MF: Like, it’s really good. But it doesn’t stand out. At least not with present company.

TP: Gotta set the stage.

JS: It’s such a crucial interlude though.

AT: It brought me down from the high of that exploding guitar of the previous song.

TP: You’re only gonna go lower, bub.

JS: Grab the Kleenex.

10) Poor Places

TP: Jesus Christ.

JS: Was an only child.

AT: Flatline yet?

TP: This song brings back memories more vividly than just about any song.

MF: I hate to make another Bob Dylan reference, but the guy’s voice is so pleasantly nasally at times that it just reminds me of Dylan in all the right ways.

AT: Steady at 60 bpm? I lost th e pulse!




JS: I get that Scoops. Same timbre.

TP: Wilco samba.

AT: Bachata?

TP: Gesundheit.

MF: I like how it just rolled into pianos right there.

TP: I never noticed the stereo-panned pianos going on there.

JS: This record has some beautifully weird chord progressions. Is anybody else getting that?

TP: Definitely. But it feels natural.

JS: Exactly. Never realized that before.

IN: Totally! This and Radio Cure have that in common I think.

TP: Or at least very effective in getting the emotional point across.

MF: I was just going to say that it feels so natural that I didn’t really notice it before.

TP: It makes no difference to me.

AT: Father Nature?


IN: Ok the end of this song is a Revolution #9 moment.

JS: More like a Day in the Life moment.

TP: Revolution #9 wishes it could stand at the same bus stop as this song.

IN: Now we’re just splitting hairs.

MF: “A Day in the Life” vibes. I’m with Jackson on that one.

AT: Splitting hairs is actually really hard to do.

JS: And mine are standing right up straight.




MF: Yankee



TP: Yankee



AT: …

11) Reservations

TP: So this song has one of my favorite musical moments ever in it. I’ll be sure to freak out about it at the appropriate time.

JS: That cymbal crash thing.

TP: That everything is beautifulness. That radio wooga wooga wooga.

JS: The thing I love about this album is how elastic it is.

MF: Gosh. This song is hitting on a bunch of emotional levels that I totally did not expect to be hit at.

JS: How patient it is.

TP: Tweedy’s gonna experience his moment and you’re gonna SIT BACK AND ENJOY IT.

Here it comes here it comes here it comes!

(Note: Tucker is talking about the moment at 3:38 in the youtube video)

Chills. Every single time.

JS: Wilco’s gone Avant.

TP: Geiger solo.

AT: Ah, so this is one of those albums that ends with a song that is totally like, half silent and really drawn out at the end?

TP: You betcha.


TP: !

AT: #OnAveryIslandLike

JS: I love this outro.

MF: Quite the fade out, there.

JS: Yo. The song ended as my radiator was turning on. And it felt like the album.