The Country of Rock and Roll

From the ashes of Uncle Tupelo springs Wilco, genreless and great

A song such as "Casino Queen" is perhaps the most obvious example on A.M.; its opening guitar riff, penned by Bottle Rockets frontman (and former Uncle Tupelo roadie-sideman) Brian Henneman, is classic Keith Richards, derivative of "Honky Tonk Woman" without plagiarizing. From there, the song explores the same terrain as the Stones and the Faces, but with one minor addition that creates a major difference: behind the giant guitars and hoarse vocals, Johnston's fiddle whines like Bill Monroe sped up to 45 rpm, and the song becomes an entirely different entity, recalling Dylan's "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" as much as anything else.

"I have trouble looking at a song I would write as a country song or a pop song or a rock song or whatever," Tweedy says. "I just feel like it's a song I wrote, and when we play it and when the other guys are into a song enough for us all to learn it, then it becomes a Wilco song. With Uncle Tupelo, there were some clear-cut lines as far as the approach we were going to take for a different type of song ....

"I always felt we wanted to be a band. If the Rolling Stones put out Beggars Banquet today, would they be a 'country-rock' band? I don't know. That's sort of silly. Everything's so subclassified, and there's so many genres of music people feel compelled to hype or not hype or discredit. Alternative country is a really hilarious term. C'mon."

Wilco plays at 9:30 p.m. Saturday, May 6 at the Fabulous Satellite Lounge. Kevin Salem opens. Tickets are $8. Call 869-COOL for info.

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