John Cale
Fear Is A Man's Best Friend - John Cale


Paris 1919

Pet Sounds

Interview with Jeff Tweedy, the Wilco frontman, by John Mulvey. Originally appeared in Uncut, May 2002.

The Wilco Frontman On A Record That Changed His life

"I heard it toward the end of Uncle Tupelo. I'd bought Vintage Violence, another John Cale record, which I liked a lot. There's musicality to it, in a traditional sense, coming from a person who I'd associated with avant-rock noise; someone ultra-hip in the annals of rock, arguably the prime instigator in a band [The Velvet Underground] that bent the form."

"So I got Violence and I really dug the country songs on it, songs that I imagined would be really easy to play on acoustic guitar. Then this older friend of mine - you get the best information from older friends about music - told me it wasn't half as good as Paris 1919."

"It took me a while but I finally got it. And it's just a beautiful, beautiful record from start to finish, full of real songs and real beauty and real beautiful arrangements and played with the most straightforward pop sensibilities. There are those incredibly impressionistic, abstract, surreal, evocative lyrics set next to lyrics that are as simple as 'I love you'."

"It was eye-opening that I wasn't the only person that felt like these worlds had a lot more in common than they'd been given credit for - that experimentation and avant-garde theory was nto directly opposed to beauty, y'know?"

"Over time, listening and re-listening and absorbing it and being encouraged by it, it's one of those records that causes you to relax a little bit about putting every innovative idea - or what you perceive to be an innovative idea - into every song and every record. John Cale sidestepped all of this nihilism he was related to and made this pure record. It wasn't really waht I wanted to emulate, but it was a source of inspiration that related me back to something that I think people know intuitively. The record initself is all it can ever be" Its's not the band, it's not even one song on the record. And I love that art from."

"I know it'll change, and I know that is has changed. But I still think it's a very satisfying medium, to put together a collection of songs and let them all live together, and hopefully talk to each other and hopefully make some sense out of why theyr're there. Just like we do."

© 1999- Hans Werksman