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, 2006 Static and Feedback
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On the written page,
Tweedy delivers

Jeff Tweedy
Adult Head (Zoo Press)


When compiling Adult Head, Jeff Tweedy was walking
a very thin line. If he fell to one side, he could go down
as a genius like Bob Dylan, or Tom Waits, or, dare I
say, Tupac Shakur. But if he slipped the other way, the
Wilco front-man could fall on a heap of broken bodies,
shaking his hilarious death rattle right beside Jewel
and Mike Doughty of Soul Coughing. So it was with
some apprehension that I began to read Tweedy’s
poetry book – terrified that my love of Wilco might be

But after reading the first poem, my fears were

Wilco has always utilized old fashioned elements to
counteract their avant-garde sound experiments, and
Tweedy’s poetry is no different. In “Prayer #1,” for
example, Tweedy makes some obvious throwbacks to
Jelaluddin Rumi, and when most modern poets are
working to sound like Allen Ginsberg, it’s refreshing to
find someone who’s continuing a tradition that was
started back in the 1200’s. Still, that’s not to say
Tweedy’s book is out of date – despite avoiding the
oh-so-overused slam poetry format, Tweedy checks out forms from free verse to stream of consciousness to be-

Tweedy also addresses some serious issues, and while a few of the works are so personal that they come
across as incomprehensible, (I couldn’t even begin to fathom “Knives and Forks,” for example) many are
universally touching. Back to back in the book, “Blueheart Chrome,” and “Ein Moment” serve as heart-stopping
depictions of writers block and love, respectively. Other themes include child-rearing, divorce, marriage, religion
and the music industry.

At times, however, the book seems to have simply been a sounding board for Wilco’s most recent album,
Ghost is Born
. Adult Head, published barely four months before the album’s release, has fragments of lyrics
scattered throughout its poetry. The final poem, simply titled “Hell,” is almost a lyric sheet to Wilco’s “Hell is
Chrome.” The song “Muzzle of Bees” is quoted in at least two poems, “Prayer #2,” and “Muzzle.” Even the
seemingly random poem “Pure Bug Beauty” is quoted in the song “Company in my Back,” not to mention the
poem “Singing Combat.” The song “I’m a Wheel,” mimics a poem of the same name, and the song “Late
Greats,” steals lines from “Laughs.”

Looking over some of Tweedy’s side projects, it’s easy to notice this tendency towards the recycling of material.
Loose Fur’s self-titled album, which Tweedy worked on before the release of
Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, contains
snippets of lyrics from songs like “Heavy Metal Drummer,” for example. So while Tweedy is a genuine and
original artist, he’s not as prolific as he seems to be. And at times, his work can create a frustrating feeling of
déjà vu.

Nevertheless, Tweedy is most definitely a poet. Throughout his professional history, Tweedy has been
commended for his heart-felt lyrics almost as often as his musical skill. So, if nothing else, this book of lyrical
fragments is proof that Tweedy’s sung-words can stand alone. And if he must re-use turns of phrase and certain
words, at least he chose them wisely.