Tweedy has never been a fan of the rock star memoir. He
admits he’s not well-versed in the genre.
never appealed to me for some reason — I don’t know
why,” he says. “I’m sure there are a lot of things
I could learn from reading other people’s biographies
and memoirs. I just don’t have the interest or
Wilco frontman and Belleville native managed to muster
up enough interest and patience to write one of his own.
His “Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back): A Memoir of
Recording and Discording With Wilco, Etc.” is out now.
a pretty low-stakes genre, writing a rock ’n’ roll
memoir. There’s not a lot of pressure. But I wanted it
to be honest.”
Go (So We Can Get Back)” is the first official memoir
by Tweedy, one of the most important modern names in
rock to come from the St. Louis area. He was part of the
seminal alt-country band Uncle Tupelo and now is with
Grammy-winning Wilco, an alt-rock band based in Chicago,
where he now lives.
memoir is a deep dive into Tweedy’s story — his
local upbringing, life, music and career — with
apparently nothing off limits.
of growing up in Belleville, losing his virginity at age
14, his songwriting process (and stories behind the
songs), the rise and fall of Uncle Tupelo, tales of
Uncle Tupelo’s Jay Farrar and Wilco’s Jay Bennett,
and his own struggles with addiction and depression.
references are plentiful: Vintage Vinyl, Euclid Records,
Cicero’s, the Checkerdome, Chuck Berry, and his first
concert, the Stray Cats at Mississippi Nights.
honest, I didn’t think of this on my own. I was asked
by some book people if I was ready or interested in the
process of writing a book, and I thought about it for a
while,” he says.
his first considerations was his wife, Sue Miller, and
sons, Spencer and Sam — how they’d feel about it and
how they’d be involved. He incorporates his family in
a unique way, using conversations as part of the
narrative. One is titled “A Conversation With Spencer
About How Much of Our Relationship He Really Wants Me to
Reveal in This Book.” Tweedy didn’t interview his
younger son, Sam.
a big part of me and have a role to play in how the
narrative goes,” Tweedy says. “I felt like, for me
to draw the most honest picture, I wanted people to have
insight in how my family sees me. I really wanted their
voices to be a part of it in kind of a meta way. I
thought that was interesting.”
51, had to ask himself whether it was even time for him
to write a memoir.
just getting started,” he says. “I feel like
there’s always a sense when somebody writes a memoir,
they’re nearing the end of their career or they’re a
little bit older than in their 50s.”
he realized writing the book couldn’t hurt anything.
might have some stories to share that could help people
with the same set of issues,” he says.
started was the hardest part. And getting over his fear
of writing prose. He approached it like he was telling a
wasn’t getting out of it,” he says. “I’d signed
says he felt comfortable putting his life out there,
warts and all, and being as transparent as possible.
being open about a lot of things people look at as being
difficult to share,” he says. “I felt obligated to
share some things. I have a position where I’m
visible, and I truly believe that a lot of the stigma
about mental illness and addiction would be a lot less
difficult for people if people were willing to talk
about it without fear of being stigmatized.”
doesn’t think his experiences are particularly unique
— or something that needs to be protected or hidden.
“But there’s a misconception about creativity and
that type of suffering and illness, and I wanted to be
clear about that.”
prepping the memoir, Tweedy says, dredging up memories
he hadn’t thought of in decades was cathartic for him.
strange how memories work. When you start to write
things down, you allow yourself to be absorbed in the
process of writing. You start meditating on these things
that happened long ago, close your eyes and start seeing
specific pieces of the picture.
always thought of myself as having a terrible
autobiographical memory. I can’t remember venues
played and a lot of things. But the interesting thing
about writing is when you focus on trying to convey a
specific event, you see the contours of it more
says there weren’t any particular guidelines or
requirements for the book; he was given free reign.
wasn’t pushed to dig up dirt or make any salacious
claims. I wasn’t required by contract to be
scintillating. And I think I would have had a tough time
digging up anything to compete with the Mötley Crüe
Tweedy discusses for the first time a long-ago encounter
with Farrar’s then-girlfriend, now-wife, in the Uncle
Tupelo van that helped bring the end for the band.
writes that he drunkenly said he loved her and that she
said it too. He says the exchange was innocent though
obnoxious. But Farrar heard it.
has told the story from his point of view, and it’s
more sinister than I remember it,” he says. “It’s
my time to clear the air.”
would never rule out an Uncle Tupelo reunion, but he
doesn’t see one happening.
personally don’t have a deep desire to reapproach the
music,” he says. “I’m proud of it and what we’ve
done. I’m proud of Jay and all the music he continues
to make. But obviously, I’m deeply involved with my
own music. And I don’t get the sense from Jay that
he’s eager to revisit.”
end, Tweedy hopes his memoir leaves readers with the
feeling that “somebody sat down with them, and we had
a conversation that was honest and natural.”