What's So Great about Wilco? Yankee Hotel Foxtrot at 10
Ten years ago, Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot came out, an album that The Atlantic's Spencer Kornhaber is calling "the best rock record of the new millennium" in this piece, which burns a little too hotly in its adoration of the alternative-rock band. No doubt about it, the album was a milestone for Wilco, which formed in 1994 from the remaining members of the band Uncle Tupelo. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, the band's bestselling album to date, was not only a commercial success, reaching thirteen on the Billboard top 200 chart, but the critics loved it. Rolling Stone, for instance, ranked it number three on its list of top albums for the 2000s--high praise for a record that was initially rejected by Wilco's original recording label, Reprise Records.
I've always taken my love with Wilco with a grain of salt--there's definitely a whole lot of pretension running through the band's schtick--but that doesn't mean that I didn't love them back then or that I don't now. I remember when Yankee Hotel Foxtrot came out and the powerful affect that its lazy folk-rock style had on me as a fourteen year old listening to its songs on repeat over and over again or, years later, seeing the band perform "Heavy Metal Drummer" in a Vermont field on a summer evening. It was perfect.
Only recently has Wilco ceased to be my go-to listen, but when I think of some of the most memorable experiences of my teen years, Wilco's on in the background. Kornhaber was also in high school when the album came out, and since we're both still thinking and writing about--and listening to--its songs ten years later, there was obviously something special about them that really resonated with us and our generation of music listeners.