Musical memoirs from Jeff Tweedy and Beastie Boys put words to music – Daily Breeze

Rock memoirs tend toward some common themes: sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll.

Jeff Tweedy’s “Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back): A Memoir Of Recording And Discording With Wilco, Etc.” includes all that, but there’s a whole lot more in this fine look back at his three-decade career, which spans from his early days in the alt-country trio Uncle Tupelo to his long-running leadership of the band Wilco. He also just released a solo album, “Warm,” and is scheduled to play a series of sold-out solo dates at LA’s Largo at the Coronet next month.

The memoir includes stories you’d expect – getting his first guitar, touring the country in an old van, playing music with his friends and heroes – but it’s got plenty you wouldn’t. Tweedy is not only very funny, but he displays depth and vulnerability, elements not typically expected from a rock bio, when writing about his experiences with substance abuse and the strength he draws from his long, enduring marriage.

It probably helps to have followed Tweedy’s musical career to be interested in his story, but you don’t have to be a fan to enjoy what may be its most compelling element: His faith in the power of making stuff. He’s so compelling on the subject that it’s hard not to read the book and feel inspired to go out and make something of your own. He writes movingly about his father and brothers, suggesting that they might have had happier lives if they’d found a way to pursue creative outlets.

Rock memoirs are also great for settling scores, and here Tweedy offers what seems to be a fairly even-handed account of some of the musical discord he experienced with two of his closest collaborators, Jay Farrar of Uncle Tupelo and Jay Bennett of Wilco. It’s Tweedy’s book so you can’t help but see his side of things, but he doesn’t demonize his former bandmates and has plenty of admiring things to say about them. On the page, Tweedy finds fault in his own actions, such as allowing a manager to fire a long-standing member of Wilco instead of doing it himself, as well as those of his bandmates.

The hardcover would likely make a nice holiday gift, but there’s a strong argument to get the audiobook of “Let’s Go.” Like the fine recent audiobook memoirs of Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, Johnny Marr of The Smiths and more, Tweedy, who reads the text, is the best interpreter of his own words and work. He’s a good, expressive reader, even cracking up occasionally, which just adds to the pleasure of listening to the book. He includes charming back-and-forth conversations with his wife and son, who argue with him about what he ought to put in the book and what he shouldn’t.

Hearing a veteran entertainer tell his own stories in his own voice is simply a joy you don’t want to miss.

(courtesy of Penguin Random House)

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