This week we take a test drive of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Wilco’s third album, released in September of 2001. This has proven to be their biggest and best selling record, despite other strong releases over the past 16 years. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot places Jeff Tweedy and company at the top of the Indie Alt-Rock genre. A record that, from start to finish, drips with sharp song writing and finely tuned chops and riffs, as well as fresh and new takes on the craft. It might be the addition of new drummer Glen Kotche, or it could be the last ditch efforts of sometime-song-writer Jay Bennett, as the writing was on the wall, that this would be his last album with the band.
The name Yankee Hotel Foxtrot comes from a track from the 1995 Conet Project, a recording of number short wave radio stations that are surprisingly enjoyable to listen to, and were once used as a form of communication for soviet era spies. One track includes a woman’s voice repeating “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” over and over again . . . Well, Tweedy and company actually got sued over this album name, and ended up settling out of court.
Aside from the songs and title. This album is iconic in another way. The cover. Wilco, a Chicago band, decided to place an upward facing image of the Marina City Towers . . . those two round towers in the tan Chicago sky, is a kind of obverse of the hard lines of the twin towers, which fell on September 11th . . . This album was released exactly one week later. September 18th 2001. And composed well before the September 11th attacks. Tho lines like this one “Tall buildings shake, Voices escape singing sad sad songs … Voices whine, Skyscrapers are scraping together, your voice is smoking.”, from the track “Jesus Etc.”, might make one think that maybe Wilco knew something about the attacks. Wilco was an inside job.
This Five Star album is a must have for any music collector. Especially if it’s autographed by Jeff Tweedy like the WTMD copy is . . . Jealous.