What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that although the very artistic Wilco's tone is usually serious, that doesn't equate to top-heavy, the-world-is-crashing-around-our-ears seriousness. Nor does it mean extreme profanity or celebration of drugs and alcohol, despite singer Jeff Tweedy's struggle with substance abuse and recovery while making the CD. There are some palatable feelings of tension, pain, and hope, lyrically and musically. There's also brief profanity (a few "holy s--t"s in one song and a "hell" in another title), and an obscure, anti-drug message in "Handshake Drugs."
What's the story?
While not portrayed as "experimental," like Wilco's 2002 breakthrough Yankee Foxtrot Hotel was, A GHOST IS BORN might be even more unorthodox in parts. But that hardly affects its listenability (if one is looking for a true alternative to mainstream). Wilco shows as much imagination on this CD as on its predecessor, while going for a warmer, more earthy tone in places. But Tweedy's inner turmoil is evident all over this CD, especially in the pained guitar playing. Although there aren't any catchy hits like "Heavy Metal Drummer" here, there is much for thoughtful teens to explore.
Is it any good?
If you're the parent of a teen listening to Wilco in this time of meaningless disposable pop, you should jump for joy. You should react the same way as your parents should have reacted when you discovered Bob Dylan or the Beatles. The music is indeed alternative in its creativity and the lyrics are poetic and thought-provoking without revealing too much.
Explore, discuss, enjoy
Families can talk about what Tweedy went through and how his feelings might have influenced the music. Can music -- either writing it or listening to it -- help soothe tough times? After listening to "Theologians," which is mildly anti-religious but pro-God, families can talk about religion and spirituality.