Sunken Treasure

Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is the best album of this year. Here's why you can't listen to it.

Now that Wilco is gone, label employees can't even listen to Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and wonder what might have been: All advance copies of the disc were confiscated, even from the most valued employees. One of them, who declines to be identified, says that had he known all copies of the album were going to be yanked, well, he might have burned a copy or two.

The songs from the album did find their way--via MP3s--to the Internet, which is where we were able to come by our copy, and it's the only place you can hear Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, for now. When it comes down to it, that's all that matters, and all that ever mattered--the 11 tracks on Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, those 11 songs covered in dusty brilliance. Despite Kahne's intentions, the songs are not lost: Tweedy and the band made a deal with Reprise to buy Yankee Hotel Foxtrot back from the label, and for the past few weeks, Tweedy and his manager, Tony Margherita, have been negotiating with other labels. Someone will most definitely buy it, and the group will be even better off than before. "It feels like Christmas," Tweedy told the Chicago Tribune's Greg Kot in August, after signing the agreement that allowed Wilco and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot to leave Reprise together. "I don't feel victimized. I feel liberated."

At the moment, even those songs probably don't matter to Tweedy or Margherita; they were both in New York on September 11 when the twin towers of the World Trade Center collapsed and everything changed. The ultimate fate of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot hardly seems important given those circumstances. Tweedy and Margherita will get back to business at some point, just not now. So maybe you'll have to wait until 2002 to hear the best album of this year. Trust me--it's worth it.

“I don’t feel victimized,” Jeff Tweedy said in August, after Reprise dumped the band. “I feel liberated.”
Jay Blakesberg
“I don’t feel victimized,” Jeff Tweedy said in August, after Reprise dumped the band. “I feel liberated.”

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