Acclaimed Albums – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot by Wilco

List item: Listen to the 250 greatest albums
Progress: 205/250Title: Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
Artist: Wilco
Year: 2002
Position: #75

Well, it’s been over a month since I did my last post for this list. That’s the problem with deciding that you are going to make a ‘best of the decade’ list – so many albums to listen to in order to place them. I bet, if I were to look back on it when this post goes up, I will already be taking umbrage with my ordering.

Since I’ve been so focused on music of the 2010s, it felt a bit weird to go right back to listening to the older albums for this list – so I settled on an album from the 2000s that I have owned for YEARS because of a recommendation and never got around to listening to. Boy, have I wasted years without actually giving this a proper go and by proper go, I mean a few days of listening to it.

Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is one of those great albums where you find new things and new favourites in every listen. Being a bit of a pop fan, my instant favourite was ‘Heavy Metal Drummer’ because of it’s instant sing-a-longability and that I could change the repeated line of ‘she feel in love with a drummer’ to ‘she fell in love with a llama’, which brought me so much joy that I cannot tell you.

Later listens had me then focusing on ‘Jesus, etc’ with it’s variation in strings and lyrics that foreshadowed the 9/11 attacks (the album was originally due to be released on the day of the attack) and ‘I Am Trying To Break Your Heart’ with it’s percussion lines. The list of influences on this album must be absolutely massive as they swing between different elements of rock music.

You can find elements of The Beatles, Beck, Serge Gainsbourg, Radiohead and a whole mess of others in here. Similarly, the list of those influenced by this album must be similarly massive – just off the top of my head I can hear elements of later albums by The Magnetic Fields and Fiona Apple with this music – and that just speaks to both the reach and the lack of discernable genre.

If you have to classify this album, I guess you could call it smorgasbord rock. There’s alt-country, psychedelia, art rock, indie, Americana, soft rock – I mean if you can think of a subgenre of rock that isn’t too hard, then you can probably find parts of it here. Yet, and I guess that’s thanks to some of the bleaker undertones in the themes, this album is remarkably cohesive. I’m sure that, later on, I’m going to play songs on this out of context like I have finally started to with In The Aeroplane Over The Sea, but for now it feels wrong to try and break this album apart and insert it into my other playlists.

I want to try and get back on the album horse before the end of the year is out (for the record, it is currently early November), but this is an album that I want more time to savour before I have to come up with cogent thoughts about Wu-Tang Clan. Maybe a few more days and then I can move on.


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