Review: Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back)

Hello readers!

As a fan of the bands Uncle Tupelo and Wilco, I knew what I wanted from Jeff Tweedy’s memoir Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back): privileges to life backstage and on the bus, lives of the members of the bands, individually and collectively, the bands’ musical histories—a kind of meta-fandom, which is to say my own, re-processed, re-enforced and offered back to me on another, deeper level.

Okay, I’m not 100% sure what that means either, making it a difficult goal for the book to live up to. Which it doesn’t, quite. But the good news is that reading this book is like having lunch with or simply across from Jeff Tweedy and listening with pleasure to someone smart and funny, who has a lot to tell. It’s a pretty good trade-off.

As expected in a rock memoir, themes of tragedy, familial dysfunction, substance addiction and depression are all here. Yet Tweedy mostly avoids clichés, offering unusual and specific details to tell a story that could belong to no one else. Tweedy relates how he acquired his guitar skills, why he has no use for learning scales (eliciting I imagine shouts of “Thank You” from aspiring guitarists everywhere), and offers a peek into his unusual music and lyric-writing methods. If you’ve ever wondered about deeper insights into Wilco lyrics, you might just learn something, though it might not be quite what you were hoping for either. If information about Wilco members past and present is sparse, well, Tweedy has the right to tell the story he wants to tell.

The book contains some delightful meta-moments. The story of how Tweedy and his wife first became a thing is rendered in cartoon-strip form, which somehow works better than it should. Transcriptions of conversations with family members about what they wish Tweedy to include or exclude reveal more about the author than anyone else.

Tweedy’s disarming humor softens up the reader for some powerful material late in the book. Maybe it was my mood that day, but as I sat in a coffee shop approaching the end of the book, I felt close to tears, definitely not an expectation I had when reading the first pages. I was also slightly sad that the book was over.

Written, Tweedy says, as a way of sitting down with fans and readers and saying things he has been wanting to say, Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back), whatever its net balance of pluses and minuses, left me with a couple of certain convictions: 1) My fandom is entirely justified, and 2) Jeff Tweedy would be an awesome guy to hang around with.

–Kelvin

You can find Let’s Go online here, or call the store to reserve a copy!

Happy reading!

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