Dear Jeffy (Go Ask Susie): Not a Problem
Advice on Insomnia, Cruises, and Moving to Europe
Mike: How does one go about picking an opening band?
JT: Primarily we choose bands that we like and are interesting and would feel good to share with our audience. Availability of people has a big part to play in it. Sometimes it’s to support somebody local.
SMT: That’s what you should do!
JT: We do that sometimes. But it’s also nice to spread the word about a band we like.
SMT: Butttttt it’s also nice to spread the word about a local band.
JT: We do that frequently… We do…. Right, Crystal?
CM: Don’t bring me into this.
Brian: It sounds like Spencer was very interested in playing instruments at a young age and Sammy came to it later. What was your overall approach? Did you teach them yourself?
JT: The kids’ musical interests have been supported by us but not forced upon them. We allowed them both to pursue their musical pursuits at their own speed as their passion grew. Spencer’s interest came much earlier and almost immediately…
SMT: Well, from birth until four years old Spencer was at Lounge Ax every day of his life. He heard three bands a day, almost seven days a week, during soundcheck.
JT: And bands waiting to soundcheck would set up drums on the floor in front of the stage. He would always play with those drums.
SMT: I also had a set of drums down in the office. Spencer could play a beat before he could stand or walk or talk.
JT: You’d have to sit there and hold him so he could play a beat.
SMT: Yes, and he’s mostly self taught.
JT: And he had a good teacher in his Montessori school, which he credits with giving him some basics. And Glenn has obviously been around and been helpful.
And Sammy, because it was his older brother’s thing and his dad’s thing, he resisted pursuing music wholeheartedly until probably about five years ago. And then it became an absolute obsession. He’s a very quick learner and an amazing singer and has a real aptitude for it as well.
JB: How will the Tweedy Family plan ahead for the upcoming Cayamo #15? What are the "best practices" for boat music vacations according to Susie (& Jeff)?
JT: We’re not cruise experts. This will be our second time on a cruise. So you probably should go on travel sites that would have better information on cruises.
SMT: There’s a Facebook group for fans of the cruise!
Joe D: I'm kind of over all of the divisiveness and loathing that's become the foundation of American culture. Thinking of moving to Europe. Any thoughts or advice? Thx!
JT: My advice would be to spend way less time online and more time with people, if that’s possible at all. As much of a curmudgeon as everyone talks about me being, I feel like whenever I have the opportunity to spend more time with actual people, I have less dread overall about things. I wish there was a way to earn time online by spending time with actual humans. We create wildly different relationships with each other through machines vs. in person. It’s like the difference between a car and a shopping cart. If you’re in a car and someone cuts you off, there’s a dehumanization that happens. There’s often screaming and rage, because you’ve have been dehumanized by these machines. But when you bump into somebody with your cart at the grocery store, in general most people say “oh excuse me”, because you realize you’re both knuckleheads looking the other way trying to find pancake mix.
Phones, computers, all of that technology is the same kinda thing. Dehumanizing. There is a tendency for people to look at things online and think that’s the real world. If Twitter was the real world, we really would be in the middle of a civil war, way more chaotic and terrifying than the world we’re in, where there’s still a relatively cohesive fabric that we’re all working within that doesn’t involve our political beliefs on a daily basis.
I wouldn’t advise moving to Europe. I think it would be a lot cheaper to go offline a little more. Of course, I’m making an assumption that you’re experiencing this feeling online. But I don’t know where else you would be experiencing it. I travel all over the world, and most places you look around there is a certain amount of peacefulness and coexistence. There are not many places on earth where I’ve felt very scared or preyed upon. I know I’m a white man, I know I’m privileged. But I’ve been in the hearts of cities, the outskirts of cities, even the rural areas, and in general that is true. There are people everywhere working together that are absolutely ideologically miles apart.
There’s a difference between reading the news and spending time watching the horribleness that exists online in the way people interact and cannot seem to talk about things without any sort of rational discourse. The latter is maddening and distributing and would depress anybody. It could be about a Wilco record, concert tickets, almost any topic can be brought to the boil of murderous rage online.
SMT: That’s good advice. You should try following it.
JT: I do. I’ve been watching tennis.
Suze: Any tips for insomnia?
JT: Not a problem.
SMT: You take melatonin.
JT: Melatonin helps. But generally I’m very good at sleeping.
SMT: VERY good at sleeping.
SPENCER: I like the idea of you going to the doctor for tips on insomnia and the doctor says “NOT A PROBLEM”.
SMT: My tips are to come to our house, watch what I do, then do the opposite.
JT: That’s how I got good at sleeping.
SMT: But honestly you are the best sleeper I’ve known in my entire life. That saying, “he falls asleep the second his head hits the pillow” is true for Jeff.
JT: I’ve been able to adjust to life on the road. I always say I can sleep with my head inside of a kick drum. With somebody playing it. It doesn’t matter.
I think it’s peace of mind. Honestly. It’s harder when there are stressful things going on. But I’m generally able to compartmentalize my need for sleep as being something I need to do. I know that’s a frustrating answer for people who struggle with it. It sounds judgmental. I don’t know how I do it. I do know that the issues—emotional struggles, mental health, addiction—that have been a problem in my life have always been worse if I don’t get enough sleep. And so one of the main things I’ve worked on my whole life is trying to get enough sleep.
Toni Simonetti: I don't have enough wall space for all of my Wilco posters. What can I do to enjoy them all? (Not going to sell or give them away.)
JT: Spencer Gifts poster display. Yes. You could do that or buy a flat file. With drawers.
SMT: I need one of those.
JT: Everybody needs flat files.
This Week In Wilco, Etc.
2002 / December 6 and 7: Loose Fur plays their first shows, at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn, NY. The 9-song set includes the live debuts of “Answers” and “Elegant Transaction”.
2007 / December 7: Wilco plays the Change Rocks benefit for presidential candidate Barack Obama at the Riviera Theatre in Chicago, IL. Five songs are played: “War On War,” “Jesus, Etc.,” “Christ for President,” “California Stars” and “What Light”.
1993 / December 8: Uncle Tupelo plays the Born To Choose benefit, pulled together by the record label Rykodisc. The show at The Paradise in Boston, MA, features an 18-song set by Uncle Tupelo, plus sets by Blood Oranges and Sebadoh’s Lou Barlow.
I love your advice to spend more time with people and less time online. Tho I spend a lot of time with novels which is also good. I’m telling my story about my nieces again. They are on absolute opposite ends of the political spectrum which we know from watching their online presence and haven’t talked much the last five years. But my wonderful son convinced them both to come to his wedding and they danced and sang and laughed together all night. My brother, their dad, was in tears; he was so happy they were together. They both knew all the words to a Lizzo song that I don’t know. And that was the same week Lizzo played some founding fathers flute and everyone online was fighting about it. I like my Lizzo story better.
Your advice is so absolutely perfect! My data and evidence would be aligned with yours...shut the tv off, don’t look at your phone, and smile at someone. It carries a tremendous reward!
Thank you to your entire crew for the transparency. Got to be 100% honest...I don’t consider myself a super fan...if you would have asked me twenty years ago, I would have told you that I was a “Jay” guy...I’ve always appreciated your sound, but to me Jeff, the thing that you’re really kicking ass at is authenticity and vulnerability...and that’s what I need out of my muses. I feel like your openness and willingness to share (2 books, this, etc) has been SUCH A GIFT. Since letting you in, I’ve written over a dozen songs and dove head first back into music. As a result, my oldest son decided he needed a guitar and in a very short amount of time, has surpassed me by leaps and bounds. And that my friend...MY FRIEND...has been so priceless.
In a way, you were a catalyst to that...thanks Rock Star!