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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Ten Years Later, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is Still Wilco's Masterpiece

Posted By on Tue, Apr 24, 2012 at 6:19 AM

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There's another side of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot's backstory that had little to do with record company shenanigans. That's the part where drummer Ken Croomer and guitarist Jay Bennett were jettisoned from the group before the album was released. It's a part of the group's history that was chronicled in the film I Am Trying to Break Your Heart: A Film about Wilco.

[Friction between the two manifested itself in 2009, when Bennett filed a lawsuit against Tweedy. Sadly, Bennett passed away later in the year.]

Saller asked Tweedy about the lineup change in her 2002 article:

The good fit with Nonesuch isn't the only reason Tweedy's feeling more at ease these days. Before the recording sessions for Yankee Hotel Foxtrot were finished, founding members Ken Coomer and Jay Bennett were replaced by drummer Glenn Kotche and multi-instrumentalist Leroy Bach.

"I think the way the band is now is a lot more unified, and I'm way more comfortable sharing ideas in their initial stages," he says. "It's the way I've always thought it should be. I've really never been happier in a band than I am now."

In many respects, Crain was prophetic when he wrote that when Yankee Hotel Foxtrot came out "no one will care what took so long or who's releasing it." That's because the album obtained both commercial success and critical adulation. Pitchfork gave the album its coveted 10 out of 10 score. Paste Magazine ranked the album as the second best release of the decade behind Sufjan Stevens' Illinoise. And perhaps most importantly, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was the opposite of a career-killer: Wilco went on to make a number of successful albums throughout the 2000s.

But the record is perhaps testament to how great work doesn't come without cost. And even though Yankee Hotel Foxtrot took its time to reach the masses, the musical universe is undoubtedly stronger as a result.

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