Will Oldham, whose part-time stage name is Bonnie “Prince” Billy, is full of surprises. He became Indie-famous as a soft, introspective folk singer; he’s been covered by and sang with Johnny Cash; he can surprise you with loud rockers; and he even had his video “cover” of Kanye West’s “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” with Zach Galifianakis featured on West’s website. Frankly, it can be surprising to hear him return to his roots with a heartfelt, folksy guitar number, but he recently put together a three-song set for Fogged Clarity that did just that.
Live Collection brings together every live cover we can find from an artist. And we find a lot.
It was almost 17 years ago now that frontman Jay Farrar split ways with his alt-country group Uncle Tupelo due to differences with bassist Jeff Tweedy, leaving Tweedy and the rest of the band in the dust. Since that time, Farrar’s career has skyrocketed, and Tweedy and the boys haven’t done anything.
Wait. I’m wrong. They formed a band called Wilco, which continues to prosper as one of the most important and influential bands in indie music.
To conclude that Wilco’s longevity is due to some sort of a constant and timeless sound would be dead wrong, however, as our latest Live Collection shows. The covers below, which include romps through the works of David Bowie, Sheryl Crow, the Ramones, and even a few half-hearted attempts at tracks by one of Farrar’s subsequent projects, Son Volt, show just how much Wilco has changed through the years. The Wilco who covers “Organ Blues” in 2000 sounds little like the one who does Tom Petty’s “Listen to Her Heart” in 1995. Sure, their 2002 cover of The Stooges’ “TV Eye” anticipates the pulsating pianos and dissonant guitars that would not truly define their albums until years later, but as a general rule, you can follow the arc of the band’s sound through the years pretty closely via the covers below.