The Friday Morning Listen: Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002)

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I don’t know where this came from. I mean, OK, I do know…physically anyway. While sorting through piles of old review material (dating all the way back to the early 2000s) I came across a copy of this Wilco album. Hmmmm, I thought…haven’t listened to this in a good long while. What the heck is it doing in all of these review discs? Life has been a little crazy in the intervening years, so maybe that question doesn’t need an answer. I set the CD aside, reserved for some careful listening on the way to work the next day.

It’s been a week now. The disc hasn’t left the car.

In particular, it’s the song “Radio Cure.” While I’ve been listening to the entire album (over and over again), it’s that one song that’s been killing me. Or rather, freezing me in my tracks. What’s the song about? I don’t even care. With the chord changes framed by ominous piano notes and with the backdrop of finger-picked guitar, the lines fall out:

Cheer up, honey, I hope you can
There is something wrong with me

The melody stays level on each line for a time, but descends at the end. I begin to take notice when Tweedy lengthens the second by allowing some space between “something” and “wrong with me.” There’s no way to describe why or how that lyric gets to me, except to say that I’ve had that very same feeling. Or at least, I’ve had feelings that I would describe in a similar manner. My email signature has a quote from writer Anne Lamott, “How come you can hear a chord, and then another chord, and then your heart breaks open?” Yes, how come?

But it’s the third line that takes me over the top:

My mind is filled with silvery stars

Again, there’s no way to describe what I get out of this. In my own head the thoughts swirling around the person who has something wrong with him have barely begun to coalesce. A mind filled with silvery stars is almost too much to take. I don’t know what it means. I know exactly what it means. Please, make it stop.

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Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski is a writer and music obsessive based out of the woods of central New Hampshire. A past contributor to, and Salon, he originated several of our weekly features including the Friday Morning Listen, (Cross the) Heartland, WTF! Wednesday, and Sparks Fly on E Street. Follow him on Twitter: @msaleski. Contact Something Else! at
Mark Saleski
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