Monday, May 25, 2009

Jay Bennett November 15, 1963 - May 24, 2009

Jay Bennett, formerly of Wilco died Saturday night and it's very sad news. I've been trying to write an entry about him, Wilco, his effect on me as a fan and his effect on all Wilco fans, but it's going long. And rambling. Someone posted this youtube vid below and it says everything about the guy (sorta, not really) that I'm getting at in my inability to write it all out. In short, it's so sad and really does have an effect on Wilco fans based mostly on the movie "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart" which the clip below is from.

I know I've always admired Bennett's contribution to my favorite band, but I've also sided heavily with Jeff Tweedy in booting the guy from Wilco. It seemed like an impossible collaboration and although I know film can lie, I "know" people like the person Bennett was portrayed as in that film, and I could see where Jeff was coming from. Even so, I always tried to lend an ear to what Jay was up to and check it out. His contribution and collaboration to Wilco made them what they are today, no ands, ifs, buts. In fact the song "Jesus, etc." is, for my money, one of the finest songs ever created and Bennett has a ton to do with that.

Since I listen to all of Jay's stuff, about 4 months ago, I downloaded for free- per his request- his new album. And I was really digging it. Then, I heard he was suing Jeff Tweedy for royalties owed 7 years after the fact as well as for money from "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart" which Jeff was merely a participant in, not a producer of and I'll be honest. It soured me on him and I tucked the CD away. I felt he was being petty and low and cheap. Then, he died Saturday. And it turns out it was from complications of hip surgery. A hip surgery that he was suing Tweedy to cover. Ugh. Ouch. As bad as I and other fans feel, put yourself in Jeff's shows. Ugh.

I have acquaintances who make fun of me for saying "we" when referring to a sports team I like or make fun on my fan boy tendencies. But you know, when you love a band or team or director, you feel on board with them. It's like church. You gravitate towards them and their message and what they bring to you. You take it personally. Like it's for real. It is real. You invest your quiet moments with these bands/teams/figures and you come together to worship and be happy for and with. And when someone who had a big part of that dies, it hurts.

So yesterday, today and for a while...I miss Jay Bennett. His last solo album really is quite great and anyone who ever saw the guy with Wilco or otherwise can attest to his brilliance. I just wish things hadn't been so messy and moreover, I wish they hadn't ended so sadly.

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