Billy Ray aside, truth is I have grown to like some Country(ish) music... For example, when the opportunity arises on a Saturday night, I listen to NPR's re-broadcast of the American folk classic "Prairie Home Companion." You may also catch me humming along to a Country-Pop cross over artist like Lady Antebellum, Taylor Swift, or Carrie Underwood (don't laugh - I like the song where she bashes the hell out of her cheating ex's car). I recognize all of the above are girly and not pure Country... that's why my taste is for "Country Light" - less calories, but just as filling (for me).
And now the main event - WILCO - The very best in "Country Light" and one of my fav bands.
Fronted by founding member, Jeff Tweedy, Wilco's sound (considered Alternative Country/Alternative Rock) is infused with elements of country twang, experimental rock, and synthesizer-pop. Through Wilco's seven album career, their first couple album's were more Country sounding as the band was formed from Uncle Tupelo, also an Alternative Country band.
Although Wilco doesn't quite have the hardcore twang of mainstream Country it still has Country vibe, particularly the band's 1995 debut album "A.M." which utilizes classic Country instruments - pedal steel guitars, fiddles, and mandolins. This is a great album, and I frequently listen to it when futzing around the house cooking, tidying, up and shining my cowboy boots.
Check out Wilco (with Mr. Tweedy in full Country regalia) performing "I MUST BE HIGH" and "PASSENGER SIDE" off "A.M."
By the fourth studio album, YANKEE HOTEL FOXTROT, Wilco's sound became less Country and more experimental rock with long, complex, synthesized intros and outros. After being dropped from Reprise and later picked up by Nonsuch, this album has been Wilco's largest commercial success selling over 600,000 copies. I picked up YANKEE HOTEL FOXTROT in 2005 and played the CD a ton. I later got all their albums including the two most recent: Grammy nominated "SKY BLUE SKY" and "WILCO (THE ALBUM)".
Check out the playful fan video of HEAVY METAL DRUMMER - floppy haired boys (a guilty Z pleasure).
And below check out I AM TRYING TO BREAK YOUR HEART - a standout from YANKEE HOTEL FOXTROT. Although more rock focused, you can still hear the Alternative Country roots deep in the melody. And for a great documentary chronicling the public controversy between Wilco and Reprise during the recording of this album, Nettlx "I Am Trying to Break your Heart: A Film About Wilco".
And finally a simply beautiful song - YOU AND I off Wilco's 2009 most recent album WILCO (THE ALBUM) featuring Feist. And you gotta love David Letterman - the camel thing is funny!
In honor of Wilco's "Country Light" roots, we are making Chili - a down-home Country classic - but a light, healthy, and easy version. My good friend, Malena Casteel, passed this recipe on from her Mama that lives in the Midwest. We later learned that "Cooking Light" magazine featured a similar recipe. Since everyone is trying to lose the holiday overage, this is a great stick-to-your ribs chili, but will keep you svelte - and can be made meatless.
QUICK VEGETARIAN CHILI (WITH MEAT) (serves 4)