Excerpt from The Gospel of Jeff: The Lost Gospel
In the beginning Jeff created a cd. Now the cd was empty and without music, silence was over the round disc, and the Spirit of Jeff was hovering over the emptiness with his array of ideas.
And Jeff said, “Let there be songs,” and it was so and he wrote lyrics. Jeff saw that the lyrics were good.
And Jeff got the band Wilco together and said, “Lets compose music.” They did, and Jeff saw that it was good.
And Jeff felt that the next step should be taken and said, “Lets record our new music.” And they did. And Jeff saw that it was good.
But not quite satisfied, Jeff said, “Let the people of earth spring forth and buy the new music.” And they did, and it was good.
Allen stopped reading the religious text and pushed his pince-nez up on his nose. His beard was turning grey and his eyes had a bad habit of watering consistently. He pulled out his hankie and dabbed at them.
“Profound!” He uttered, his old, wrinkled face squinting in an effort to see better. He dabbed again with his hankie. Allen tried to read a few more lines, but his eyes were acting up worse than usual. He snapped the book shut and placed it on the coffee table.
He was a member of Tweedianity, a religious group who followed the musical prophets, Wilco. They weren’t the only musical sect. There were Creedologiests, Floydites, Beatlahs, Dylamics, and more. Allen settled into his chair, muttering about the false musical prophets steering people away from Tweedianity.
Allen pulled up his record player and brought his Tweedy vinyl collection into easy reach. Despite the great leaps in technology, vinyl was the only true version of music so Allen had spent great deals of money to get his collection in vinyl.
He owned everything except the fabled “A Ghost Is Born.” That album was apparently released in 2004, however the response to it was lackluster after the uproar over their previous release, “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.” A few people bought it, then sold it, then other people bought it, didn’t appreciate it, and it slowly went the way of the buffalo. The last known copy of the album burned in a bonfire when an over-zealous Christian made the move to get rid of all his family’s “secular” music.
That was the legend, anyway. Allen doubted it’s existence in the first place. However, despite that he had it’s chapter in “The Gospel of Jeff” memorized. He ran through it in his mind, mouthing it like a prayer.
“A Ghost Is Born” weaves classic rock song structures with a piano driven frankness and some Sonic Youth inspired craziness. What was left of the alt.country influence on “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” is mostly left behind, leaving indie rock roots. The overwhelming feeling of the album is laid back, so the tracks which rock out stand as some of the stronger songs. “I’m A Wheel” is the most obvious example of rocking, taking almost a stoner rock approach to writing and sound. The song would have fit in well with the Queens of the Stone Age side band, Eagles of Death Metal.
There are only two great missteps on the album. First is the inclusion of “Handshake Drugs” which had already appeared on a previous EP and was never a strong song to start off with. The second is “Less Than You Think.” The song it’s self is great. But after three minutes the song ends and 12 minutes of looped noise begins. Twelve minutes of noise can work, but it has to be done well. This is not done well.
While “A Ghost Is Born” contains some great songs, some good songs, and only a handful of bad songs, as a cohesive statement, it doesn’t stand up quite as well as a some of the previous albums.
Allen smoked a cigar, reflecting. He would never know. It was gone, if it even existed in the first place. He put on side A of “Being There” and drifted to sleep.