Do me a favour and invest your memories with genuine hope, please forget everything they’ve told you, cross your arms and close your eyes. I could tell you what I saw, maybe what some others said, and perhaps the universal experience as clear as “Simon says,” but I won’t. Don’t get me wrong; this wasn’t epiphany or biblical harmony, just a band, just another rock and roll band. So why all the guile? Or am I simply playing coy?
You want to know and you want words—like drywall for your mind—so you cry, then shiver and wake in the fury of some other man’s thoughts flying through your mind. Fine, all right I’ll give in. Take this, and then let it drift and die alone in the longing dawn of the day and understanding.
A two-night stand in the Commodore Ballroom and suddenly I’ve forgotten everything. Two nights with a band named Wilco, and they’re not just another band in the Ballroom. Mr. Tweedy says “I am trying to break your heart/ but still I’d be lying, if I said it wasn’t easy,” and its so clear and 35mm perfect, with his intention so blunt and stated. How can you break a heart at its ecstatic and euphoric peak? How can you hate a man who tells you that?
I really don’t want to waste your time and tell how the lighting accented this or how spot on the so and so was. If you were there, I’m happy; if not, then wait patiently for your turn. But how the night disappeared and the world seemed to turn over, and all the sorrow seemed irrelevant for a while. Standing in the Ballroom, I felt years go by as I finally got to see in-person and up-close a band whose albums mean so much to me. Every song was a whisper of a bad day and lost love, and every word a portrait of a night sky-through a city bus window. I’m man enough to know when my tears are true and when they simply get by. On the first night, they left two songs out of their set—two songs I ached to hear. The second night, they played those songs—is it so simple, is it so fucking simple to break my heart? If you see them, ask Mr. Tweedy, ‘cause I’m sure he saw when he silenced and strummed into “Red-Eyed and Blue.” Man, he wasn’t lying; it was so easy.
Oh, by the by, The Boas were a nice little discovery: new to the road and genuine in their intent. Some old Neil Young/Buffalo Springfield vocals fed through Byrds-era Gram Parsons style guitar work and a beautiful rhythm section. They were right in the depths of it on the first night, lost in the brilliance of their own songs. The second night they were cut short on time and punctuation, more stuttering than steering their set, but I grew rather fond of the moppish fellas from Chicago.
PS: When I woke after each night (like Angels dream the universe sleeps), I was uncertain of who I was, and the peace of that moment shook me awake to the relevance and serenity of my life, my own life, and all our lives. Thank-you, Wilco . . . .