How I Hear It: Sky Blue Sky
I remember being introduced to Wilco about ten years ago by my friend Mark in the basement of a house we shared in Seattle. And, the first album I ever possessed was Being There, given to me by my brother-in-law shortly after I got married. Yet, Wilco never really struck a chord with me until I was given the gift of a lifetime last fall: Sky Blue Sky.
Since then, I have probably listened to Sky Blue Sky in it’s entirety three times a week. I listen to it all the time. In fact, after I finish this blog post, I am going to go to bed and listen to them as I fall sleep. Seriously, I am absolutely in love with the album. Serious Wilco Schoolboy-Crush-for-Teacher Love. It’s a little ridiculous, actually.
Sadly, the closest they’re playing to Seattle this summer is Las Vegas, but I’ve seen shows in Vegas, so I’d prefer to see them at Red Rocks (which, at last check, is not sold out!). I’m trying to get Lisa, my wife, to go because we’ve never been to Red Rocks, and it’s a place we both would like to see. On second thought, maybe we shouldn’t go…I’ve built the expectations up so high in my mind.
Anyhow, Lisa likes Wilco, but has a very hard time placing the name with the face, so to speak. Nearly every time I put them on…which is a lot…she asks “I like this, who is it?” We joke now that she knows who it is; that when she’s asking “who is this?” that it’s Wilco, duh.
I don’t know what Lisa likes about them, but what I like about Sky Blue Sky is the sound. Oh, that sound! I’ve listened to the album 100 times and I barely know any of the words. As far as I’m concerned, the words are just part of the sound…a cornucopia of carefully crafted and beautiful melodies that stir nostalgic and bittersweet emotions. Music that touches my soul.
This may be naive, but I’ve described Sky Blue Sky previously as a mix of John Lennon’s Beatles and Don Henley’s Eagles. I say it that way not just because of the music, but specifically for the lead singer’s voice: at times, as I listen, I swear that I am hearing a perfect blend of those to voices. There’s grit and soul in Lennon’s voice, and wistfulness in Henley’s. Or, at least, that’s how I hear it.