Wilco by Greg Kot
Learning How to Die

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The intimate story of one of the great American bands of our time, creators of the controversial masterpiece Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

When alt-country heroes-turned-rock-iconoclasts Wilco handed in their fourth album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, to the band’s label, Reprise, a division of Warner Brothers, fans looked forward to the release of another challenging, genre-bending departure from their previous work. The band aimed to build on previous sales and critical acclaim with its boldest and most ambitious album yet, but was instead urged by skittish Reprise execs to make the record more “radio friendly.” When Wilco wouldn’t give, they found themselves without a label. Instead, they used the Internet to introduce the album to their fans, and eventually sold the record to Nonesuch, another division of Warner. Wilco was vindicated when the album debuted at No. 13 on the Billboard charts and posted the band’s strongest sales to date.

Wilco: Learning How to Die traces the band’s story to its deepest origins in Southern Illinois, where Jeff Tweedy began growing into one of the best songwriters of his generation. As we witness how his music grew from its punk and alt-country origins, some of the key issues and questions in our culture are addressed: How is music of substance created while the gulf between art and commerce widens in the corporate consolidation era? How does the music industry make or break a hit? How do working musicians reconcile the rewards of artistic risk with the toll it exacts on their personal life?

This book was written with the cooperation of Wilco band members past and present.  It is also fully up to date, covering the latest changes in personnel and the imminent release of the band’s fifth album, A Ghost Is Born, sure to be one of the most talked-about albums of 2004.

About Greg Kot

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An award-winning music critic for the Chicago Tribune, GREG KOT contributes to a wide array of national magazines, including Rolling Stone, and co-hosts the rock 'n' roll talk show Sound Opinions on radio and television, and at www.soundopinions.net.
Published December 10, 2008 by Crown Archetype. 256 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Arts & Photography, Humor & Entertainment, History. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Wilco

Publishers Weekly

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Despite Wilco's critical success and growing fan base, the histrionics of Tweedy's early career endured, culminating with the painful breakdown of communication between Tweedy and Wilco band mate Jay Bennett, which led to Bennett's firing and the bizarre circumstances surrounding the release of Y...

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Entertainment Weekly

Mining the same contentious plotlines captured in 2002's compelling documentary ''I Am Trying to Break Your Heart,'' rock critic Kot wisely centers his history of the experimental indie band on its most substantive and convulsive character: talented, temperamental frontman Jeff Tweedy.

Jun 25 2004 | Read Full Review of Wilco: Learning How to Die

USA Today

Kot, a Chicago Tribune music critic, charts the rise of Wilco from the band's roots in the alt-country band Uncle Tupelo through its battle over Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, including band leader Jeff Tweedy's struggles with migraines and panic attacks.

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“It Feels Like Christmas”—Or the Story of How Wilco Gave Itself Creative Freedom Wilco have come a long way since they rose from the ashes of the late alternative country god Uncle Tupelo in 1994, back when Jay Farrar left the country-punk band to start Son Volt while Jeff Tweedy, John Stirratt, ...

Apr 26 2002 | Read Full Review of Wilco: Learning How to Die

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