Jeff Tweedy rose to prominence with Uncle Tupelo in the late '80s and early '90s, but with his own group, Wilco, he would step out from the shadow of that legendary alt-country group and his former partner, Jay Farrar.
Belleville, IL, high school friends Tweedy and Farrar started Uncle Tupelo as the Primitives in St. Louis in the mid-'80s. After a run of four albums (including their seminal debut, No Depression), Farrar abruptly quit in 1994 and started Son Volt, who continued Tupelo's spirit of moody and rousing ruralism. Tweedy and the remaining Tupelo members picked up as Wilco. With that group, Tweedy would permanently lay to rest the impression that Farrar had been the sole, dark genius of Uncle Tupelo. (In fact, one theory holds that Farrar disintegrated the group because he was threatened by Tweedy's burgeoning creative role.)
Wilco's first album, A.M. (1995), seemed to cater to the needs of the Uncle Tupelo audience. However, the following two-disc Being There (1996) -- a sprawling achievement that garnered comparisons to the Rolling Stones' Exile on Main Street -- and the more pop-oriented Summer Teeth (1999) would establish Tweedy as a distinct and formidable force in popular music.
Tweedy has also been part of Golden Smog, an all-star collective who has included members of the Jayhawks, Soul Asylum, and Big Star; appeared on the Handsome Family album Through the Trees; and also appeared on Blue Rodeo leader Jim Cuddy's solo debut, All in Time. In addition, Wilco collaborated with Billy Bragg on the two Mermaid Avenue albums, which set music to the lost lyrics of Woody Guthrie. In 2000 and 2001, Tweedy undertook a series of solo acoustic shows before settling in to work on the next Wilco album. Unfortunately, the band found themselves without a label and decided to tour in spite of their scenario. Eventually Nonesuch stepped in and gave it an early 2002 release while Tweedy also saw some solo material written for the Ethan Hawke vehicle Chelsea Walls become the soundtrack to the film around the same time.