Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

Infobox Album
Name = Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
Type = studio
Artist = Wilco

Released = April 23, 2002
Recorded = Autumn 2000, Chicago (The Loft)
Genre = Alternative rock
Length = 51:51
Label = Nonesuch
Producer = Jim O'Rourke, Wilco
Reviews =
*Allmusic Rating|4|5 [http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:0aogtq2zpu48~T1 link]
*"The A.V. Club" (favorable) [http://avclub.com/content/node/13315 link]
*BBC (favorable) [http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/release/8zbd/ link]
*Metacritic (87%) [http://www.metacritic.com/music/artists/wilco/yankeehotelfoxtrot?q=wilco link]
*"NME" (8/10) [http://www.nme.com/reviews/wilco/6279 link]
*Pitchfork Media (10.0/10.0) [http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/article/record_review/23177/Wilco_Yankee_Hotel_Foxtrot link]
*PopMatters (favorable) [http://www.popmatters.com/music/reviews/w/wilco-yankee.shtml 04/26/2004]
*"Pulse" (favorable) April 2002, p. 72cite news|last=Devenish|first=Colin|title='Message Received: Wilco Transmits from Its New Location'|publisher=Pulse|date=April 2002|page=72]
*"Rolling Stone" Rating|4|5 [http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/wilco/albums/album/322307/review/5946403/yankee_hotel_foxtrot link]
*"The Village Voice" (favorable) cite news|last=Hoard|first=Christian|title='Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)'|url=http://www.villagevoice.com/music/0217,hoard,34151,22.html|publisher=The Village Voice|date=April 30, 2002|page=75] [http://www.villagevoice.com/music/0217,hoard,34151,22.html link]
Last album = "Mermaid Avenue Vol. II"
This album = "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot"
Next album = "A Ghost Is Born"

"Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" (sometimes abbreviated "YHF")cite news|last=Jardin|first=Xeni|url=http://www.wired.com/news/culture/0,1284,65688,00.html|title='Music Is Not a Loaf of Bread'|publisher=Wired Magazine|date=November 14, 2004] is the fourth album by Chicago-based rock band Wilco. The album was completed in 2001, but Reprise Records believed that it would not have crossover pop success and refused to release it. Wilco acquired the rights to the album when they were released from the label.

After their dismissal from Reprise, Wilco offered the entire album for free on their official website. In November 2001, Wilco signed with Nonesuch Records, and the album was officially released on April 23, 2002. It was the first Wilco album with producer Jim O'Rourke and drummer Glenn Kotche, and the last with multi-instrumentalist Jay Bennett and drummer Ken Coomer. "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" was a critical and commercial success, selling over 500,000 copies in the U.S. and topping the Pazz and Jop critics' poll for 2002.


Wilco was touring to promote "Mermaid Avenue Vol. II" in May 2000 when Jeff Tweedy was invited to play at the Noise Pop festival in Chicago. The festival promoter offered to pair Tweedy with a collaborator of his choosing, and Tweedy decided to perform with Jim O'Rourke. Tweedy frequently played O'Rourke's album "Bad Timing" in his car while he traveled during the previous winter. O'Rourke was an accomplished producer as well as a musician, and had produced over two hundred albums by the time that Tweedy requested the collaboration. O'Rourke offered the services of drummer Glenn Kotche, and the trio performed at Double Door for the festival on May 14, 2000. Tweedy enjoyed the performance so much that he suggested that the trio record an album together. They chose the name Loose Fur, and recorded six songs during the following summer. [Harvnb|Kot|2004|Ref=CITEREFKot2004|p= 176-184]

Wilco began performing songs that would later appear on "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" during the support tour for "Mermaid Avenue Vol. II". By the end of the year, the band had recorded enough demo tracks to release a fourth studio album (the working title was "Here Comes Everybody"), but Tweedy was unhappy with some of the songs. He wanted the next album to sound like the music he had performed with Loose Fur, and decided to bring Glenn Kotche into the studio to record with the band. Wilco officially replaced drummer Ken Coomer with Kotche in January 2001, a decision originally made by Tweedy and later approved by the rest of the band. [Kot 2004, p. 185-188]

Jay Bennett sought to engineer and mix the entire album, and this decision caused tension between him and Tweedy. One of the more prominent conflicts (due to its inclusion in the film "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart") was over the ten-second transition between "Ashes of American Flags" and "Heavy Metal Drummer". Bennett explained to Tweedy that there was a mixing problem with the transition, but Tweedy explained that he just wanted the problem fixed. Tweedy then left the recording studio to vomit (due to one of Tweedy's chronic migraines), and Bennett was offended by Tweedy's sudden departure. Bennett focused on making the songs on the album accessible, while Tweedy wanted the album to cover new musical ground and believed that the songs should be part of a sequence. In order to achieve his musical goals, Tweedy invited Jim O'Rourke into the studio to mix "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart" (audio|I Am Trying to Break Your Heart.ogg|sample), and the results impressed the band members. O'Rourke was then asked to mix the rest of the album.Jones, Sam. "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart: A Film About Wilco" (DVD), Plexifilm, 2002.] [Kot 2004, p. 195-199]

The cover of the album is a picture of Marina City in the band's adopted hometown of Chicago. The album was named after a series of letters in the phonetic alphabet that Tweedy had heard on the Irdial box set "". On the fourth track of the album, audio|Tcp d1 4 phonetic alphabet nato irdial.ogg|"Phonetic Alphabet - Nato", a woman repeats the words "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" numerous times; a clip from this song was placed in the "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" song "Poor Places". Irdial sued Wilco for copyright infringement, and a settlement was reached out of court. [cite news|last=Gupta|first=Jaya|url=http://www.filter-mag.com/news/interior.1477.html|title=Wilco Settle Lawsuit|publisher=Filter Magazine|date=June 25, 2004]

Bennett wanted parts of his mixing material to appear on every track, and this caused conflict between him and O'Rourke. O'Rourke put an emphasis on theme and melodies and reduced the amount of non-melodic noise on the album. He mixed out parts of other band members, particularly on "Poor Places". By the time O'Rourke had finished mixing that song, in one section, only the Loose Fur trio was playing on it. After the album's completion, Tweedy decided to kick Bennett out of the band in favor of O'Rourke. The album was completed in 2001, and Tweedy firmly believed that it was complete. [Kot 2004, p. 199-200]

"I Am Trying to Break Your Heart"

Los Angeles photographer Sam Jones contacted Wilco in 2000 about producing a documentary film about the creation of "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot". Jones shot over eighty hours of footage for "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart" (named after the one of the songs that would appear on the album) beginning on the day that Coomer was dismissed from the band. The footage was edited down to ninety-two minutes, and the film was released to theaters in 2002. ["I Am Trying to Break Your Heart" liner notes.] The documentary was welcomed with generally positive reviews. [cite web|url=http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/i_am_trying_to_break_your_heart/|title=I Am Trying to Break Your Heart (2002)|publisher=Rotten Tomatoes Last accessed January 2, 2007.]

Dismissal from Reprise Records

In 2001, AOL merged with Time Warner to form AOL Time Warner. Time Warner's market share of the music industry had dropped by almost five percent from the mid-1990s, and the new executives ordered the termination of six hundred jobs. One of those jobs was Reprise Records president Howie Klein, who had been a big supporter of Wilco on the label. Klein's dismissal caused head A&R representative David Kahne to be in charge of deciding whether to release "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot". Kahne assigned A&R representative Mio Vukovic to monitor the progress of the album. Vukovic was unhappy about the album because he felt that his suggestions were not being considered. Kahne wanted a radio single from the album, but he felt that none of the songs were suitable for commercial release. In June 2001, the album was officially rejected and Vukovic suggested that the band independently release the album. [Kot 2004, p. 201-206]

Josh Grier, Wilco's lawyer, was able to negotiate a buy-out of the band from Reprise. The band would keep the rights to the album if they paid Reprise $50,000. Before Wilco could accept the deal, Reprise called the band and changed their offer to give the band the rights to "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" for free. Despite Reprise's efforts to accommodate Wilco's departure, the process marred public relations after an article in the "Chicago Tribune" described what had happened. [cite news|last=Kot|first=Greg|url=http://web.archive.org/web/20010826133635/www.chicagotribune.com/features/lifestyle/chi-0108150038aug15.story?coll=chi-leisure-hed|title=Wilco's shot in the arm|publisher=Chicago Tribune|date=August 15, 2001]

Wilco had planned on releasing "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" on September 11, 2001, but Tweedy did not want a change in record labels to significantly delay the release of the album. Within weeks of being released from the label and Jay Bennett leaving the band, MP3s of all tracks from the album began to appear on file sharing networks. In a decision aimed at discouraging the pirating of lower quality MP3s and having some control over how the album was distributed, on September 18, 2001, Wilco began streaming the entirety of the album on their official website. The wilcoworld.net website registered over fifty thousand hits that day, eight times as much as typical daily traffic. Traffic to the website quadrupled the normal traffic over the next few months. The following tour was a success financially, and members of Wilco observed that fans sang along with unreleased songs on the album. [Kot 2004, p. 223-226]

Release on Nonesuch Records

Both independent and major record labels bid for the right to release "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot", including Artemis Records and Nonesuch Records. Tweedy denied the bids of record labels that did not have a roster of signed artists that matched his liking. He also decided to ignore small independent companies because he wanted to be able to put the album out for a large audience and felt that they would be unable to produce more than 100,000 records. Wilco decided to sign with AOL Time Warner subsidiary Nonesuch Records in November 2001, basing the decision on the label's small size and artist-friendly atmosphere. Wilco recorded and produced "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" with Reprise, received the rights to the album for free, and then sold it back to a different AOL Time Warner affiliate. [Kot 2004, p. 227-228]

"Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" was commercially released by Nonesuch Records on April 23, 2002. The album sold 55,573 copies during its first week of release, peaking on the "Billboard" 200 album chart at number thirteen. [cite news|title=The "Billboard" 200|publisher=Billboard|date=May 11, 2002] [Kot 2004, p. 228-229] The album was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America and has sold over 590,000 units. [cite web|url=http://www.riaa.com/goldandplatinumdata.php|title=Gold and Platinum Database Search Last accessed January 2, 2007.] [cite news|last=Cohen|first=Jonathan|url=http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/feature/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003571465|title=Wilco: In The Comfort Zone|publisher=Billboard|date=April 13, 2007] The album received positive reviews from media outlets such as "Rolling Stone" and "BBC". [cite news|last=Fricke|first=David|url=http://www.rollingstone.com/reviews/album/322307/yankee_hotel_foxtrot|title=Yankee Hotel Foxtrot: Review|publisher=Rolling Stone|date=May 9, 2002] [cite news|last=Jones|first=Chris|url=http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/release/8zbd/|title=Folk and Country Review - Wilco, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot|publisher=BBC] "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" was voted as the best album of the year in The Village Voice Pazz & Jop critics poll. [cite web|url=http://www.villagevoice.com/specials/pazznjop/02/|title=Pazz & Jop 2002|publisher=The Village Voice Last accessed January 2, 2007.] The album was voted as the 100th "Greatest Album Ever" in a 2006 Q Magazine poll. [Harvnb|Levy|2005|Ref=CITEREFLevy2005|p= 216] [cite news|title=2006 Q Magazine Readers' 100 Greatest Albums Ever|publisher=Q|date=February 2006]

Almost all major publications gave a high rating to the album. [cite web|url=http://www.metacritic.com/music/artists/wilco/yankeehotelfoxtrot|title=Wilco: "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" (2002)|publisher=Metacritic Last accessed July 5, 2007.] Brent Sirota of Pitchfork Media gave the album a perfect 10.0 rating, noting that the album was "simply a masterpiece." [cite web|last=Sirota|first=Brent|url=http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/article/record_review/23177-yankee-hotel-foxtrot?artist_title=23177-yankee-hotel-foxtrot|title=Wilco: "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" (review)|date=April 22, 2002 Last accessed July 6, 2007.] David Fricke wrote for "Rolling Stone" praised its resemblance to psychedelia while Allmusic writer Zac Johnson lauded its musical complexity. [cite news|last=Fricke|first=David|authorlink=David Fricke|url=http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/wilco/albums/album/322307/review/5946403/yankee_hotel_foxtrot|title=Wilco: "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" (review)|publisher="Rolling Stone"|date=May 9, 2002 Last accessed July 6, 2007.] [cite web|last=Johnson|first=Zac|url=http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=Azwx8b5n4psqa|title=Yankee Hotel Foxtrot > Overview|publisher=Allmusic Last accessed July 6, 2007.] "Trouser Press" was one of the few major media outlets that did not give the album a good review, stating that "more time spent in the songwriting lab might have yielded material more suitable to the evident studio effort invested and brought Wilco closer to making a truly great album." [cite news|url=http://www.trouserpress.com/entry.php?a=wilco|title=Wilco|publisher="Trouser Press" Last accessed July 6, 2007.] Robert Christgau gave the album a one-star honorable mention rating, stating that he found the lyrics to be boring. [cite web|last=Christgau|first=Robert|authorlink=Robert Christgau|url=http://www.robertchristgau.com/get_artist.php?id=1677&name=Wilco|title=CG: Wilco|publisher=robertchristgau.com Last accessed July 6, 2007.]

The "More Like the Moon" EP (also called "Bridge" and "Australian" EP) was originally released as a bonus disc to the Australian version of "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot". The EP comprised six songs that were recorded but not released during the "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" sessions including a re-working of "Kamera". On the one-year anniversary of the release of "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot", Wilco uploaded the EP onto their official website, and offered it for free to anyone who purchased the album. The band would later allow anyone to download the EP for free off the website, regardless of whether they had purchased the full-length album. [Kot 2004, p. 237] [cite news|last=Unterberger|first=Andrew|url=http://www.stylusmagazine.com/reviews/wilco/more-like-the-moon-ep.htm|title=Wilco - More Like the Moon EP - Review|publisher=Stylus Magazine|date=September 1, 2003]

Though "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" was recorded before the September 11, 2001 attacks, critics perceived references in the album to the attacks. For example, Jeff Gordinier of "Entertainment Weekly" compared the two towers of Marina City to the World Trade Center towers [cite news|last=Gordinier|first=Jeff|url=http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,232324~4~0~yankeehotelfoxtrot,00.html|title="Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" (review)|publisher="Entertainment Weekly"|date=April 22, 2002 Last accessed June 20, 2007.] [cite news|last=Hultkrans|first=Andrew|url=http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0268/is_1_41/ai_91202089|title="I Am Trying to Break Your Heart" (review)|publisher="ArtForum"|date=September 2002 Last accessed June 20, 2007.]


Jeff Tweedy (vocals, guitar), Jay Bennett (guitar, keyboards), John Stirratt (bass guitar), and Ken Coomer were responsible for the conception of the album. Leroy Bach and Fred Lonberg-Holm provided additional instrumentation. Coomer is listed as a "collaborator", since his drum parts were replaced by those of Glenn Kotche. Bennett, Jim O'Rourke, and Chris Brickley provided engineering and mixing and Steve Rooke mastered the tapes. Jim O'Rourke and Wilco were named as the producers of the album, and Sam Jones took the photographs that were used in the insert of the album. ["Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" liner notes.]

Track listing

All lyrics by Jeff Tweedy. Music written by Jeff Tweedy and Jay Bennett except where noted.

# "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart" (Tweedy) – 6:57 audio|I Am Trying to Break Your Heart.ogg|Audio sample
# "Kamera" – 3:29
# "Radio Cure" – 5:08
# "War on War" – 3:47
# "Jesus, Etc." – 3:50
# "Ashes of American Flags" – 4:43
# "Heavy Metal Drummer" (Tweedy) – 3:08
# "I'm the Man Who Loves You" – 3:55
# "Pot Kettle Black" – 4:00
# "Poor Places" – 5:15
# "Reservations" (Tweedy) – 7:22



*Harvard reference
Surname1 = Kot
Given1 = Greg
Year = 2004
Title = Wilco: Learning How to Die
Publisher = New York: Broadway Books
Edition = First
Retrieved on 2006-12-18
*Harvard reference
Surname1 = Levy
Given1 = Joe
Year = 2005
Title = The 500 Greatest Albums of All Times
Publisher = New York: Wenner Books
Edition = First
Retrieved on 2007-01-02

External links

* [http://wilcoworld.net/records/yhf.php "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" streaming] on WilcoWorld

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