We finally saw I’m Trying To Break Your Heart, a movie about the making of Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot album. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is my pick for 2002 album of the year. This album is especially notable because their record label dropped them after hearing the album calling it a “career-ending record” and claiming it was unmarketable. While trying to find a new label to distribute the record, they posted the album on their web site for free and it began to spread. After a year, a new label picked them up and it was released in April 2002. Rolling Stone called it the “Album of the Year” and it’s widely-regarded as their best album to date.
It just goes to show that the people who control the music we listen to are clueless. And thanks to the Internet, good bands now have a way to get heard.
But the movie could have been better. It glossed over the rift that caused a member to be asked to leave. And it had more live footage of their shows than it did of studio time. I always find it fascinating to watch musicians create songs. The creative process – the sometimes haphazard decisions mixed with the careful thought – that goes into making great songs is fun to watch. But this movie lacked most of that. And it stopped right when the band got re-signed, rather than show the reaction of the fans and media to the album. I think that would have made a better film and made the truth about the recording industry’s misunderstanding of its own market more evident.