Tweedy Birds

Yes, you are trying to break my heart


Guys who love Wilco tend to be terrible boyfriends. Granted, this is based on loose and subjective life experience, and would never hold up in federal court. It’s also a conclusion resulting from a whopping two-specimen study. But hey, I still stand by my conclusions.

My YHF=SUX theory germinated after an ugly breakup with a flannel-wearing, baseball-loving wannabe fiction writer who loved Wilco with a passion second only to Budweiser, and who I soon discovered (why was I surprised?) possessed the emotional capacity of a largemouth bass. I didn’t get much out of that relationship except a bad case of the cynical bitters and a one-point plan for dating success: If dude gushes about how fucking fantastic Wilco are—especially after A Ghost Is Born, ugh—then get out when you still have a fully functioning nervous system.

I’ve broken the rule only once, when I offered my heart on a platter to another flannel-wearing slacker prince. We watched the band’s 2002 documentary I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, and sure enough, my soon-to-be-ex handed a couple of Wilco albums over to me, which I took with a stupid, optimistic joy. (The truth is, I ended up listening to Being There more times than I should probably admit.) But lo and behold, my one-point plan turned out to be spot on. Within a few months, that cold-fish emotional capacity reared its persistent head again, and I found myself hearing “I’m not ready to be in a relationship” from yet another Tweedy fan.

What I should have done all those years back is turned right instead of left at the Uncle Tupelo songwriter split, heading down the path of Jay Farrar. I’ve yet to meet an emotionally deciduous man who likes Farrar. From even the first note of his velvet-toned voice on Son Volt’s debut album Trace, he just seems more solid and slightly less manic depressive than Tweedy, a sweet country cousin to a grumpy city curmudgeon. I mean, the guy lives in St. Louis, Mo., for God’s sake. Isn’t everyone nice there?

Farrar is a songwriter with enough sensitivity and emotional capacity to soothe the bruised-up heart of a girl who’s been through the relationship blender. One Fast Move or I’m Gone, the album he made with Ben Gibbard, is a swooningly soothing musical trip from beginning to end. So maybe there’s a new one-point plan here: If he likes Jay Farrar, don’t automatically assume he’s boring—and do assume that he might possibly have the emotional capacity of something without gills.

Jay Farrar plays Wednesday, Nov. 9, at the Mystic Theatre. 21 Petaluma Blvd. N., Petaluma. 7:30pm. $19–$23. 707.765.2121.

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