the evolution of a song: poor places

First of all, I want to say that I would be remiss to think that many (out of the million that read my blog) take the time to really dig into posts like this. I know from experience that blog-reading is a daily activity that doesn't always merit the devotion of other activities like, say, tearing pictures out of Nashville Paw to tape to one's dashboard, or making a list of all the things one must do to before becoming an astronaut.

However, most of these posts are for myself and the few who might actually delve into them anyway. So, without further disclaim, the evolution of a song:


"Poor Places" appears on my favorite record of all time, Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot - (I will likely be stubborn and continue to make this claim well after my own death). I first heard the song during my senior year of high school when I was amazed at how something so beautiful could be so quickly destroyed and turned into such a mess. The idea of consonance and dissonance in art was something unheard of and exciting (for me). I finally realized why I liked much of the music that I did - because it was the sound of an artist taking something (a melody, a chord, etc.) and twisting it until it broke. I love the sound right before the break. It is the sound of humanity.

I have several different versions of "Poor Places" - all in different stages of the composition and recording process. Listen to (and watch) the building up and tearing down of a song.

Wilco - Poor Places (Demo #1)

Wilco - Poor Places (scene from I Am Trying To Break Your Heart)

Wilco - Poor Places (Demo #2)

Wilco - Poor Places (Yankee Hotel Foxtrot version)

I love the way it ends - it keeps me coming back for more. I've actually caught myself thinking that maybe it will just end with a beautiful B-flat strum as I listen to it, as if the recording itself is alive and capable of change. And I have spent many a headphoned moment wondering what that haunting voice is communicating with Y-H-F.

I have some theories.


Will Rucker said...

When i saw that you put up a post about YHF, I thought you were doing in honor of Jay Bennett, but then I saw you mentioned nothing about him.

He died unexpectedly in his sleep 3 nights ago. Details of his death have yet to be revealed, but it was probably because of drug overdose. He was 45.

I just thought it was so strange that you put up something about Wilco. It's totally a coincidence I guess.

benjamin said...

no, actually he is the reason I put this up. when I heard about his death, I put on being there, then summerteeth, then yankee hotel foxtrot. i listened to them all on the drive home yesterday.

then I got home and read a post on aquarium drunkard that re-posted YHF demos in his honor. (also this post here). I downloaded these demos the first time they were posted on aquarium drunkard a few years ago, but began to re-listen last night after seeing the posts.

anyway, all that to say, my post is really in honor of jay bennett and all the twisting and breaking he did to jeff tweedy's folk.

h. ryann. said...

david and i were talking the other day about some air force code and such...and he was explaining to me what 'alpha' 'bravo' 'charlie' meant, etc. and he explained that its a way of spelling out something correctly.
to make sure the person knows you said 'b' instead of 'v' you say 'bravo.'

and 'hotel' and 'foxtrot' are the assigned words for 'h' and 'f.'

i didnt know that until the other day, but you might have already known it.
and i love this post btw.