39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars (4.5 Stars) A little bit country..but mostly rock n' roll
Six years before the much lauded masterpiece "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot", Wilco released "Being There", an ambitious double album that utilized many of the foundations of rock & roll, yet made them sound fresh. Also, if you heard "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" and scratched your head at the whole "alt. country" label they're saddled with, it may make more sense after listening to...
Published on August 20, 2004 by B
4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More appropriately titled, 'Almost There'
My first Wilco purchase was the brilliant 'Summer Teeth'. A kinetic, colorful assembly of lyrics set to expertly crafted music. Tweedy and company nailed it dead on with 'Summer Teeth'. My next purchase - 'Being There' immediately reminded me that I have a very low tolerance for the rough hewn 'lo-fi' influence that marrs the musical output of too many bands,...
Published on July 22, 2000 by Gary J. Figueroa
Most Helpful First | Newest First
39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars (4.5 Stars) A little bit country..but mostly rock n' roll,
Six years before the much lauded masterpiece "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot", Wilco released "Being There", an ambitious double album that utilized many of the foundations of rock & roll, yet made them sound fresh. Also, if you heard "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" and scratched your head at the whole "alt. country" label they're saddled with, it may make more sense after listening to this.
First off, I should say that "Being There" could've fit onto one disc. But once you hear it, you'll see why they put it onto two. For instance, "Misunderstood" and "Sunken Treasure" open Disc 1 and 2, respectively. Each one clocks in at nearly 7 minutes, and utilize similar structures; slow building epics that climax in blasts of psychadelic/avant-garde guitar noise. They both function as centerpieces, and simply work a lot better, aesthetically, as opening songs.
"Monday" is a hard rockin' Rolling Stones pastiche if you'll ever hear one. Deliciously catchy and fun, it'll be stuck in your head for days. "Outtasite (Outta Mind)" and "I Got You" are both carefree, infectious power-pop at its best. The former also appears on Disc 2 as "Outta Mind (Outtasite)" with a toned down, Beach Boys-like arrangement (check out the great vocal harmonies in the background).
"Hotel Arizona" is a personal favorite of mine that blends swirling, atmospheric textures with traditional folk, pop, and rock elements.
Whereas most of the songs have a very subtle country sound, "Far Far Away" and "Forget The Flowers" are pure county-western, twangy guitar and all.
Best of all is the melancholy/bittersweet "The Lonely 1", a reflective ballad (about the whole rock & roll lifestyle) that combines gentle accoustic guitars, piano, and strings.
The album ends with "Dreamer In My Dreams", a freewheeling, bluesey rocker that's also highly reminiscent of the Rolling Stones.
Other standouts include the soulful "What's the World Got In Store", the rootsy-ballad "Say You Miss Me", the gentle folk of "Someone Else's Song", the blues-rock of "Kingpin", and "Why Would You Wanna Live", which has a old timey, music hall feel.
I've given the album 4.5 Stars, because although it is excellent, Wilco would get even better with subsequent releases (such as the aforementioned "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot", the lush pop of "Summerteeth", and their newest release, the stark & haunting "A Ghost is Born"). So basically, "Being There" is the first of a bunch of essential releases from Wilco. Don't miss out on this great band.
Best Songs: The Lonely 1, Hotel Arizona, Sunken Treasure, Someone Else's Song, Misunderstood, What's The World Got In Store, Outta Mind (Outta Site).
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'Being There' better than anything it references,
By A Customer
Wilco is probably capable of making a great album of just about any genre imaginable, but on Being There they went with a genre that is impossible to describe. Often said to 'borrow' from various great records of the late 60s and early 70s, Wilco really does sound more different than you'd get the impression they do. No song is made up simply of one influence, and influence never goes ahead of pure songwriting genius.
The opening track on Being There, 'Misunderstood,' as with many other tracks on the double CD, has been compared countless times to other songs and records. However, with every reviewer thinking it sounds like one thing, it's hard to imagine Wilco ever really just went out and made any songs based on just one person's music. 'Misunderstood' is an amazing way to start off an album, but it shines not just because of the noticeable influences, but mainly because of Jeff Tweedy's lyrics and voice along plus the incredible talent of the rest of the band. If you think 'Hey that sounds like The Beatles,' or 'Hey that sounds like John Lennon' before you think 'Wow, that was an incredible song,' then there is something seriously wrong with you.
After the booming finish of the heartfelt story of a musician returning home in 'Misunderstood,' the records moves on to the somewhat more upbeat, although more mellow 'Far, Far Away,' and then on to '70s rockers' 'Monday' and 'Outta Sight (Outta Mind). While when you think about it lyrics in the latter song are not exactly happy ('Well okay, I know you don't love me but you'll still be thinking of me,') the song still seems very upbeat and certainly isn't trying to depress you.
This rock mood is soon killed by the AM-esque 'Forget the Flowers,' where Tweedy doesn't go back to his alt-country roots, but more so to older straightforward country. The essence of this song would fit on any of Wilco's albums, it obviously would have been slightly altered had it been on Wilco's only album better than Being There(to date), Summerteeth. An excellent song either way. One more sad song follows, 'Red Eyed and Blue,' which goes with a slightly less country approach than 'Forget the Flowers,' and comes out well.
From here Wilco balances the last too more depressing song with 'I got you (at the end of the century).' This and the next song 'What's the World Got in Store' have you realizing that this is definitely becoming a great first side. Then the next song, 'Hotel Arizona' completely confirms this, sounding like something Neil Young would have on a greatest hits record. The first side finishes off with 'Say You Miss Me,' another great love song, with Jeff Tweedy's own style.
The second disk opens with two songs that are similar in some ways to the first two songs on the first disk. 'Sunken Treasure' is another great drawn out piano/guitar song that let's you look at Tweedy so closely you can't help but love it. 'I got my name from rock n' roll' he sings, and you know his lyrics are a window straight into him. Similar to 'Far, Far Away,' the next song 'Someday Soon' brings a dreaming less intense song to the table, followed by an acoustic version of 'Outta Sight (Outta Mind),' which in this case goes by the name 'Outta Mind (Outta Sight).' While not as good as the original in terms of it's upbeat rock sound, it still comes off very well.
Then Jeff Tweedy goes into another song about other people's music with 'Someone Else's Song,' a song portraying the frustrated feeling of try to impress someone but just sounding no different than anything before you, which ironically does not describe Wilco, with Being There no longer sounding much like anything from Uncle Tupelo. Kingpin is a much less serious song, that seems to just be Tweedy having some fun ('I wanna be your kingpin, livin' in, Pekin'.)
From there 'Was I in Your Dreams' goes into classic Wilco, sounding happy with dark lyrics, followed by another song of this style, 'Why Would You Wanna Live,' which is so much happier sounding than the lyrics would suggest. In this type of Wilco song will either feel upbeat to you or feel really depressed depending on your mood and whether you focus on lyrics or music.
'The Lonely One' does not hide behind any happy music; it is in the same fashion as 'Forget the Flowers' a straight for sad song, even if it is somewhat less country.
The last song on the record is one of the best record finishers in a while, 'Dreamer in My Dreams.' Even if you've leaned towards the slower, sadder song on the record, this song will still be one of your favourites. It's an excited big loud song that doesn't feel like 'hard rock,' but more like a great live performance in a small place. By the time this song is over and has had it's various false endings, you can't help but be taken away by this record.
Most detractors are usually looking for country or alt-country and really don't find too much of it, but if you're looking for a great record, even if all your favourite records are alt-country, this is still one of the greatest albums released during the 90s. It may even be one of the best to come before the 'end of the century.'
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Experimental Alt-Country,
"Being There" is often called Wilco's masterpiece, but in many ways it is merely a precursor of things to come. Not yet in full Brian Wilson mode, and still working within its country roots, "Being There" is a highly enjoyable blend of American styles. The album features some of their most convincing hard rock, not to mention the achingly beautiful "Far Far Away."
My only complaint (and the reason "Being There" doesn't merit 5 stars) is that some of the material should have been left out. The first disc is strong from start to finish - a virtual masterpiece. However, around the middle of the second disc, the music becomes rather tedious - the rockers grating, the ballads uninteresting. With some careful editing, "Being There" could have easily been a single-disc masterpiece.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wilco's masterpiece,
Wilco is a terrific band, and I wholeheartedly enjoy all of their releases...but "Being There" is their finest endeavor, and their one album that will best stand the test of time. There are times when Wilco seems more like "Jeff Tweedy feat. Wilco," and "AM" and "Being There" offer the most input from Bennett et al., which really results in a much more diverse-yet-cohesive sound than on, say, "Summerteeth," which is sonically beautiful, but the lyrics often seem mismatched with the music. That said, Tweedy is the principal songwriter here, and this album catches at a point where he's more articulate than on some UT releases and "AM," but he's obviously still a little self-conscious, and are less explicitly personal than what "Summerteeth" would later produce. Most of the Uncle Tupelo-related angst is released in the first track: "Take the guitar player for a ride/cuz he ain't never been satisfied/he thinks he owes some kinda debt/be years before he gets over it...I'd like to thank you all for nothing, I'd like to thank you all for nothing at all." "Being There" is about a lot of things, I'm sure, but most obviously and most powerfully, it's an detailed trip through a very vulnerable folksinger's relationship psyche. The album gets lonely, joyful, melancholy and wistful all on the first disc and reexamines them all again on the second. It's a perfect documentation of a relationship, never overstated and very subtle. After this album, it may be a little hard to go back and listen to your Cure cds; all the emotion that you hear in Robbie Smith's tortured voice and lush instrumentation is there in Tweedy's hushed sighs and delicate guitar licks. Instrumentally, the album is also quite diverse. Tweedy is often wailing on Telecasters and Bennett is usually behind the Hammond organ, but equally as often Tweedy's relatively alone on acoustic, or the whole band's together in a swelling Spector-esqe song, like "Monday," which even includes trumpets. Somehow, it all pulls together perfectly, and is produced so warmly that it's impossible not to be pulled in. You will be hardpressed to find a review that criticizes the use of two discs: the end of disc 1 leaves you starving for more, and disc 2 only barely satiates. This album highlights Wilco's immense talents, and stands out as one of the greatest musical achievements of the 1990s. The album is truly timeless, and I would recommend adding "Mermaid Ave Vol 1" to your order; because Wilco is addicting.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Far more than an alt-country masterpiece,
1996; Reprise Records
My Rating: 10/10
It's difficult to overemphasize the importance and significance of BEING THERE. It is THE place to start for anyone new to non-CMT Country music. While there are plenty of great alt-country records out there, and some might even be more consistent and concise at delivering on Gram Parson's deposit of Cosmic Americana, BEING THERE ties in so many other influences that it transcends the genre, and hints at greater possibilities.
From the sad and swaying "Far Far Away" to the optimistic "What's The World Got In Store", Tweedy covers all of the requisite emotional bases, but it's in going the extra mile on tracks like "Misunderstood" and "Sunken Treasure" that Tweedy delivers grand artistry, transforming the lives of suburban midwesterners into cinematic epics. Additionally, Tweedy proves that Wilco is capable of power-pop greatness with "Monday", "Outta Site" and "I Got You (At the End of the Century)", roadhouse swagger with "Forget The Flowers" and "Someday Soon", teary-eyed nostalgia with "The Lonely One" and "Say You Miss Me", and classic rock throwbacks with "Hotel Arizona". But it's not just the songs themselves that make BEING THERE stand out - it's all about the unpolished edges. From the numerous shouts of "Nothing!" in "Misunderstood" to the seamless segue of "Red-Eyed and Blue" into "I Got You (At the End of the Century)", BEING THERE glories in the journey of making an album.
That message - the experience of being there - eminates from both the songs AND the album artwork, which consists purely of photographs from the recordings sessions. Tweedy invites the listener to BE THERE with the band as they make a record, to be uplifted, moved, and changed, and to come away wanting to experience it all over again. In this, Wilco seems to have captured the very heart of the alt-country genre.
But for Wilco, after being lauded for this record, it wasn't enough to rest on the laurels of making an instant classic. With a masterpiece under their belts, it was time to push the boundaries of the genre they had helped create.
1. Misunderstood (5/5)
2. Far, Far Away (5/5)
3. Monday (5/5)
4. Outtasite (Outta Mind) (5/5)
5. Forget the Flowers (5/5)
6. Red-Eyed and Blue (5/5)
7. I Got You (At the End of the Century) (5/5)
8. What's the World Got in Store (5/5)
9. Hotel Arizona (4/5)
10. Say You Miss Me (4.5/5)
11. Sunken Treasure (5/5)
12. Someday Soon (4/5)
13. Outta Mind (Outta Sight) (3.5/5)
14. Someone Else's Song (4/5)
15. Kingpin (3.5/5)
16. (Was I) In Your Dreams (4/5)
17. Why Would You Wanna Live (3/5)
18. The Lonely 1 (5/5)
19. Dreamer in my Dreams (3.5/5)
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Holy Cow! This is such a great cd!,
This is when Wilco became special. This is such a sprawling, courageous, daring, creative and (yes) flawed cd. It is similar to the Stone's Exile on Main Street or Led Zep's Physical Graffiti in terms of depth and creativity. The slight flaws even make the cd better since the work is so eanest and real. This was a group taking it to the next level. This is the type of cd that you would have expected from a much more experienced and mature group as opposed to Wilco's second cd.
There is a bit of everything here. "Misunderstood" and "Sunken Treasure" morph from folk into psychodelia. "Red Eyed and Blue", with it's whistling solo is Woody Guthrie-esque folk. "I got you" is balls to the walls Stones/Aerosmith rock. "Was I in your Dreams" is sugar sweet power pop.
There is so much here, so much to sink in, so much to discover, so many hidden melodies, piano tinklings, drum backbeats, etc that you will pick up on something new all the time. There is too much to absorb in not only one sitting but even after listening to this cd for a month.
Wilco/Jeff Tweedy really hit their stride strating with this cd. I am a huge fan and highly recommend all of their works. This is a band that takes chances.
"Being There' is their rock cd, "Summer Teeth" their pop cd, Yankee Foxtrot Hotel" their musical cd and "A Ghost is Born" their guitar cd.
This was the start of a band that has not made a bad move since. See them live since they re-create eveyr sound on the stage. This is hardly a band that is a creation of the studio. This band may be the Pink Floyd of the current era. Jeff Tweedy is oozing with creative talent.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Where are you taking us, Jeff?,
Many fans of Uncle Tupelo and Wilco's "A.M." bought this double-disc album, and didn't know what to think.
Although, many songs feature the perfect alt.country stylings we'd grown to expect, the band also didn't hesitate to ROCK OUT, garage-style. A blast of guitars and noise and crashing symbols rushes hotly out of the first track, "Misunderstood," and the album quickly declares itself as something all its own, something that owes nothing to any of its old fans, or to the band's old sound, or to anyone: "I'd like to thank you all for nothing, nothing, nothing at all!" Ungrateful, but heartfelt enough to give a person chills.
From there, the album alternates between lilting steel guitar numbers and raw (yet melodious) garage rock. An occasional horn section explodes from nowhere. Lyrics wonder: "What's the world got in store...for you?" Lyrics contemplate love and Y2K in a timeless way. Lyrics express being lost and feeling hopeless and needing music. "Why would you wanna live...in this world?" one song asks, but then proceeds to answer that question with a jaunty little fiddle reel. Things get loud and rowdy, things get bummed and introspective, but the music NEVER suffers.
It's always great.
And it's always cohesive: Wilco makes albums, not collections of songs. The songs fit together and lead to each other and form a whole. The band offers enough alt.country goodness to please its old fans, and enough rock and roll to please everyone else: this album is almost like the band taking its old fans by the hands and walking with them to even greener pastures, leading them from "A.M." to "Summerteeth."
And it's a nice walk.
And there's a lot to see and hear.
And you'll be glad you took it.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Songwriters Manifesto...,
...through the eyes of a husband-father by day/rock star by night. So lyrically personal you begin to feel as if your in the band with Jeff Tweedy and the boys. Midnight laments recalling Neil Young's Harvest year, bar rockers callin out for Mick & Keith, Westerberg and Stinson, cradle croons calling for Cash and Willie, lullabyes on the beach-boy-tip, and epic intro's recalling big stars and byrds on psychedellic punk folk acid with The Band pickin up the slack behind The Mats'on the outro, a 'dreamer in my dreams.' This is heaven. All lover's of great music should have this in their collection. (Personally, before this came out in october of 96, I had waited 23 years of my life for something to completely overwhelm me in terms of lyrical and musical depth, this was it(and I've heard alot of great music people!) Even if you don't 'get it' at first, rewards lie within each listen. This never leaves me, wherever I go. I hope it does the same for you. A big sincere "thank you" goes to the band.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The lows are low, but the highs are staggering,
This was a fairly staggering conception, warts and all, and it wouldn't be until the next release that Wilco truly become masters of the artform, but it's quite a worthy, powerful ride for what it is. The record, for the first place, should have been on one CD and trimmed a bit. There are some half-songs ("Red Eyed and Blue," "I've Got You," which while peppy has some pretty dumb lyrics, and "Kingpin") and it gets a bit mired in its own moroseness towards the end (though "(Was I) In Your Dreams," Why Would You Want to Live," and "The Lonely 1" are all lovely songs in their own respects, it's a bit punishing to have them back to back to back), but there are such dizzying moments of transcendence on this record that you can mostly forgive it for its faults.
The two focal points of the record, "Misunderstood" and "Sunken Treasure," are powerful, emotionally geared epics that set the course for the whole record- themes of loss, betrayal, and distance. The whole record throbs with an organic closeness- the songs feel like they're no more than a few inches from reach. "Far Far Away" sounds like the band's encircling you in the studio, Jeff Tweedy in front of you strumming an aching melody. "Dreamer In My Dreams" is like a racous live take (hoe-down, even?), with some frenetic violin playing and an improvised feel with Tweedy's hoarse vocal.
One could say the record throbs with pain, as well- the sonic equivalent of pain and trying to be ambivalent about it. It's the band's most intimate recorded performance, and though they will aim for and achieve higher, this will hold a special place in any fan's heart too.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant- an amazing effort,
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This CD is just stupendous. Its awe inspiring almost. The 2nd CD by this amazing Chicago-based band leaves a fresh taste in your mouth. The CD manages to avoid the problem that many artists have of having all the songs sound the same. "Being There" has many different sounds to their songs, from the sweet country feel of "far, far away" to the almost Weezer-ish sound of "outta mind(outta site)"- all of which are driven by their impressive lyrics. If you like any of Wilco's other work, or if you appreciate good lyrics or slow mesmorizing melodies, you must buy this CD.
Most Helpful First | Newest First