Avenue, Volume II
by Billy Bragg and Wilco
also Mermaid Avenue
In this second volume of material,
Billy Bragg and Wilco explore Woody's previously unheard lyrics,
taking us in new and ever more revealing directions. "My
Flying Saucer" and "Joe DiMaggio Done It Again" place
Woody smack dab in Coney Island in the late 40's. Perhaps
watching the lit skies above the beach one night, or overhearing
the local conversation while lingering on a street corner, Woody
remains true to his journalistic approach. Yet, all the while
twisting the information into his own voice and retelling it with
his own message.
Some darker themes are
also explored. With "Meanest Man", Woody reveals an anger
held in check by the goodness he feels in the people around him and "Feed
of Man" is an outrage against greed and professed righteousness.
Billy, as always, takes on the fascists in "All you Fascists"
(watch out, guys!) and Wilco always seem to hone in on the beauty of Woody's
love songs. "Remember the Mountain Bed" evokes such sensual
images it's no wonder it wasn't recorded by Woody himself who was often
accused of pornography because his lyrics were so expressly, and exquisitely
Some of these tunes came
out of the original Dublin sessions recorded in 1998. But, following
their work on Mermaid Avenue I, Wilco decided to come back tot he Archives
and search around some more. They went back to Chicago to record
"Secret of the Sea", the single from the album, among others,
adding the new musical direction to their previous style.
Oh, by the way.
Who's the cat? That's actually a photo taken by Woody of a
neighborhood friend. If you look over his shoulder, the apartment
next to the corner store is where the Guthrie's lived on the first
floor. The corner store had a soda fountain and tables where
Woody often sat with a cup of coffee, and wrote while checking out
the street scene from the plate glass window. Perhaps that's
where he heard someone across the street yell, "Hey, Joe DiMaggio's
done it again!"