Wilco: The Great Lates (2009-2023) (A Mix)
Still, that said...
The downside of artists sticking around for years and years is that, as the depth of their discography grows, there is inevitably less room in our lives for the more recent work. Sometimes, let's be frank, there's a drop-off in quality or at least originality. But even for artists who continue making worthy music years into their careers--this year's latest Yo La Tengo album is a case in point, but I'm also thinking about great late-period work by R.E.M., David Bowie, Neil Young, Elvis Costello, etc.--there can be diminishing returns over time.
The reason we fall in love with these artists is because the records we first heard were so damn great. And once a band or performer has graced us with a few of our favorite records... well, it doesn't matter how top-notch the latest one is, it's gonna get tougher to find the inclination to spin it all that often when some of our all-time favorite records, ones we have committed to memory from start to finish, and which shaped our musical lives, are sitting right next to it on the shelf.
After a solid post-Uncle Tupelo debut for Jeff Tweedy & his evolving bandmates, with 1995's perfectly fine A.M., they embarked on a series of spectacular and increasingly groundbreaking albums--Being There; Summerteeth (my personal favorite); Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. And while those were all but impossible to match, I still have great love for a lot of music on the two that followed (A Ghost Is Born, Sky Blue Sky--though I ended up merging those into an amazing re-imagined single CD).
Since that run, I have dutifully picked up each new release (right up through this year's Cousin), and continued to see them perform on every tour. But I don't spend a ton of time listening to those records. Again, they're not bad. Some are pretty great. But it's hard for me to listen to them objectively; however much I might appreciate the latest release, I end up instinctively shuffling back to Summerteeth or Yankee Hotel
On the other other hand, there are a lot of wonderful songs on those later works. So I've made a mix of my favorite tunes from 2009's Wilco (The Album) up through Cousins. (I tended to favor the more upbeat tracks for purposes of the mix, so not a lot of the quieter Ode To Joy or Schmilco here; and I'm not a big fan of Star Wars, also lightly represented.) I mixed up the running order for the sake of variety, and did a bit of editing to fit it onto an 80-minute CD (i.e. cutting the boisterous "Art Of Almost" pretty much in half--it's a highlight of their concerts, but doesn't need 8 minutes on my disc). Plus gave it what I have to say is a clever as hell title, right?
I think it came out pretty great. Here's the Spotify version (obviously without the edits):