Yankee Hotel Foxtrot - The Demos

Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is widely considered Wilco's masterstroke, and by many publications, one of the few classic records of the past decade. While I agree that it's a pretty remarkable artistic achievement (and this is definitely an "art" record of some sort), many of the best tracks from those sessions actually didn't make the final record. To my ears, it's "Heavy Metal Drummer" that keeps Foxtrot from being a perfect record. I know many like it, but I consider it one of Tweedy's weakest songs to date. Fun? Maybe. Suitable for this record? Not a shot.

"Laminated Cat"

Imagine if they'd scrapped "Drummer" and replaced it with say "Laminated Cat/Not For the Season," a song that oddly found its way onto Tweedy's collaborative effort with Jim O'Rourke, Loose Fur. This song is arguably one of the best songs Tweedy's ever written, and like many of Tweedy's great songs, it was dropped onto a side project. I have no problem with this, but man would that track have fit in nicely on Foxtrot. And if he wanted to keep that track for his O'Rourke sessions, how about a slew of other tracks from the sessions, including "Shakin' Sugar," "Nothing Up My Sleeve," "Magazine Called Sunset" and the simply outstanding "Cars Can't Escape," the last being one of the best Tweedy/Bennett pairings.

"Cars Can't Escape"

Lastly, there are a number of alternate takes that outdo the tracks that made the final cut. The
alternate version of "Ashes of American Flags" is stunning, and although the album version is a
beauty, the other take is far more sparse and somewhat pastoral. It just feels like the disappearing
America that seems to be painted in the song.

Why this post? Well, I suggest you head onto the internet and track down the YHF Demos. They
may be just as important as the final record.

Here's the track listing (I'm sure there are different versions):

"I Am Trying To Break Your Heart" (alt)
"Ashes of American Flags" (alt)
"I'm the Man Who Loves You" (alt)
"Magazine Called Sunset"
"Reservations" (alt)
"Kamera" (alt)
"Laminated Cat/Not For the Season"
"Shakin' Sugar"
"Nothing Up My Sleeve"
"Venus Stop the Train"
"Cars Can't Escape"
"Poor Places" (alt)
"Won't Let You Down"
"Heavy Metal Drummer" (alt)
"Instrumental #1"
"Instrumental #2"
"Instrumental #2 (take 2)"
"Kamera" (alt 2)


JTL said...

I have much to say on this topic. Consider this a placeholder comment, since I must now sleep.