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Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy gives pandemic some ‘Love’ on new release

Tweedy’s reaction to stay-at-home mandates was to get to work. In addition to the new record, made with his two musician-sons Spencer and Sammy, he also has a new book out called “How to Write One Song.”

Jeff Tweedy, of Wilco, performs during the Obama Foundation Summit at the Illinois Institute of Technology in 2019.
Jeff Tweedy, of Wilco, performs during the Obama Foundation Summit at the Illinois Institute of Technology in 2019.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Jeff Tweedy, “Love Is the King” (dBpm Records)

“Here I am,” Jeff Tweedy sings at the onset of the title track, and also first song, of “Love Is the King,” a record made in April while the Wilco frontman was quarantining with his wife and sons at home in Chicago.

The song sets the mood and tone for the record, which refuses to give up on love and optimism, while death, disaster and dread are never far away.

“There it is,” Tweedy continues. “At the edge/Of as bad as it gets.”

This cover image released by dBpm Records shows “Love is the King” by Jeff Tweedy.
This cover image released by dBpm Records shows “Love is the King” by Jeff Tweedy.
AP

Tweedy’s reaction to being quarantined was to get to work. In addition to the new record, made with his two musician-sons Spencer and Sammy, he also has a new book out called “How to Write One Song.”

“Love Is the King” is filled with beautiful melodies, while also embracing fear and uncertainty.

“I’m just having a ball/Being alive,” he sings on “A Robin or a Wren.” “And I don’t want to die/I don’t wanna die.”

More than any other track, the stark “Bad Day Lately” sums up quarantining as the pandemic drags on.

“It’s been a bad day lately/A lonely place/I can’t endure,” Tweedy sings.

For a record that can at times be so dark, it’s not depressing. If anything, in Tweedy’s embracing the darkness that surrounds him, and us, he emerges more hopeful than before. Perhaps, as Tweedy emphasizes with the record title, love indeed is the king.

“When you need me,” he sings with assurance on “Half-Asleep,” the final track, ”I’ll be there.”