Lessons for life from Greg Kot’s book on Wilco

From Wilco: Learning How to Die by Greg Kot (Wilco is one of my favourite bands), all quotations by Jeff Tweedy.

The main thing I learned is that the more I can forget about being embarrassed when I make something, the more it is going to mean something to somebody else. I can’t anticipate what it’s going to be or how it’s going to be perceived, so the quicker I let go of something I make, the better.


Democracy is a very unrealistic and difficult thing in the context of a band. It’s best to hope for a benign dictatorship.


I started writing from the viewpoint of America as this imagined space, the America that exists in everyone. There is nothing more abstract to me than the idea of a country. These solitudes exist so apart from each other in this sea of white noise and information. And the beautiful thing is they keep transmitting to each other in the hope that somebody is going to find them. And the beauty is that people still do, still find some meaning in another person, in a relationship, find some way to communicate, even though more often than not it’s in a way not what they intended. Because some communication is better than giving up or not communicating at all.


To people who say I’m acting like an indie artist on a major record label I say ‘I don’t now any other way.’ I’ve been trained historically not to expect things I make to go through the roof, and that if I make the record I believe in, it will grow incrementally, and that the record I made three years ago will be more appreciated now than the record I’m currently making. [….] When somebody makes a piece of music, and they aim for a target and hit it, that purity is lost on a lot people, because what it may communicate to future generations is the love for money or the desire for fame. But the ability to do that is human, an it’s insanely powerful and profound to connect with a fan like that. Some people in the record industry may not think so, but I would welcome that sort of connection. But that’s not something I could even think about, let alone control. The only kind of ‘direct marketing’ we’ve ever been good at is going out and playing for people. And the only thing I can be confident about is that I do everything I can to stay focused on the act of making music, not how it will be perceived or how much it will sell. Because as soon as I do that, the music is fucked.

One thought on “Lessons for life from Greg Kot’s book on Wilco

  1. There is an entirely different level of purity which is got when the music goes out from the self for others. It is fearless of judgments and perceptions.

    Self to self and self to others, purity moves in and purity moves out. Aiming for a target churns the inner god and takes him step by step to the highest achievement that is possible in a human birth.

    These are not my own thoughts. Read them somewhere. Jeff is on the right track!

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