Happy Birthday Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy: Performing Songs About Cars

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Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy celebrates his birthday today. The singer-songwriter, guitarist and author has added livestreamer to his resume during the COVID-19 pandemic, regularly broadcasting The Tweedy Show from his home in Chicago.

Jeff will soon add drive-in concert performer to his credits with a show next month at McHenry Outdoor Theater in McHenry, Illinois where he’ll be accompanied by his son (and The Tweedy Show regular) Spencer Tweedy as well as James Elkington and Liam Kazar. In honor of Jeff’s birthday today and to commemorate the pending drive-in performance, below are videos of Tweedy performing original songs he’s written whose lyrics feature the automobile.

Wilco’s 1995 debut album A.M. contained one of Tweedy’s most enduring original songs, “Passenger Side.” The lyrics about the need for a sober driver can be heard in this video from Wilco’s concert on November 16, 2017 at the Palace Theatre in Saint Paul, Minnesota (song begins at the 2:00:00 mark):

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Less directly automotive by way of lyrical content, the title of the non-album Jay Bennett-written “Cars Can’t Escape” cannot evade its inclusion in this collection. The live rarity can be seen performed by Jeff and Bennett, who sadly died in 2009, in this outtake from the I Am Trying To Break Your Heart documentary:

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The “Nova” in the title to Wilco’s song “Bull Black Nova” is revealed in the lyrics to be not in reference to a celestial event but rather about the Chevy Nova car. The song written by Jeff for the band’s 2009 release, Wilco (The Album), can be seen below being performed by Wilco at that year’s Farm Aid concert:


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“She appears in his dreams/But in his car and in his arms/A dream can mean anything,” Tweedy sings in the Wilco song he wrote, “Hummingbird.” The live favorite was recorded for the band’s 2004 album, A Ghost Is Born and was part of their 2011 performance on the German television show Rockpalast. Watch that version here:


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