15 Year of Obsessive Wilco Coverage

You've no doubt heard the long and sordid tale of Wilco told ad nauseam by now, so we'll spare you a blow-by-blow retelling. After all, we're sick of it, too, though most of us here at the Observer still love the band.

In fact, "love" might be an understatement. If Jeff Tweedy gets wind of this compendium of fawning press courtesy of Observer writers past and present, it's doubtful any of us will be allowed within 100 yards of the stage when Wilco hits Denton this Saturday.

May 4, 1995: Robert Wilonsky jumps the gun by a few years in a preview for Wilco's first North Texas appearance—the band's debut album had been out for all of one month—and calls Jeff Tweedy "the principal singer and songwriter of the best rock and roll band in America."

August 30, 1995: Wilonsky previews the Dallas stop of the H.O.R.D.E. tour—featuring The Black Crowes, Blues Traveler, Dave Matthews Band and, yes, Wilco—openly dismissing an entire generation of jam bands before offering this nugget of fandom: "Jeff Tweedy's band [is] so good in concert it makes you grind your teeth."

June 18, 1998: Wilonsky reviews Mermaid Avenue, Wilco's collaboration with Billy Bragg on a collection of forgotten Woody Guthrie lyrics. "It's a disk that screams important," he writes.

February 25, 1999: Wilonsky writes a long-form piece on the impending release of Wilco's Summerteeth, centered around their performance at a radio industry conference in New Orleans. "Radio people don't even shut up when the only rock-and-roll band in the world that matters begins performing," he writes. "Summerteeth is too good for radio—so much bigger than the medium."

August 12, 1999: Music editor Zac Crain previews Wilco's show at the Gypsy Tea Room with an understated assessment of Jeff Tweedy's skills as a songwriter: "There are times when you can listen to Wilco's latest, Summerteeth, and hear only Jeff Tweedy's peculiar songwriting genius, the way he can turn a thousand familiar melodies into one perfectly imperfect song that manages to sound like everything and nothing that came before it."

May 25, 2000: Wilonsky reviews Mermaid Avenue, Volume 2, offering that "'Airline to Heaven' is as remarkable a piece of music, words and melody, as you will hear today, tomorrow, or forever."

September 23, 2004: Music editor Sarah Hepola reviews Wilco's show at the Granada Theater, issuing a complaint about the encore's length before checking herself and noting that "bitching about too much Wilco is like whining about being too rich or too fabulous."

October 13, 2006: I review Wilco's show at Fort Worth's Will Rogers Auditorium, leading with my theory that "Wilco is the greatest American rock band, past or present."

January 18, 2007: I use the Observer's music section as a Wilco fanboy bully pulpit, lecturing concertgoers on crowd etiquette, imploring Dallas Wilco fans to refrain from talking and to "make smart requests" so that I might better enjoy Jeff Tweedy's only North Texas solo show to date.

October 12, 2009: Wilonsky reviews Wilco's show at the Palladium Ballroom, noting that "Wilco's still very much a 1970s rock 'n' roll band, maybe every 1970s rock 'n' roll band," before comparing them to Kraftwerk, the Eagles, the Who, Devo, Thin Lizzy, Crosby, Stills and Nash and Emerson, Lake and Palmer.

November 12, 2009: In the interest of timeliness, Observer contributor Darryl Smyers spends 500 words previewing a Son Volt performance at the Granada by comparing their legacy to Wilco's a full 15 years after Uncle Tupelo called it quits.

May 7, 2011: Wilco play Denton for the first time. We're just speculating here, but it's highly possible one of us will have something positive to say about it. Call it a gut feeling.

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Noah W. Bailey
Contact: Noah W. Bailey

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