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Adult Head Paperback – March 1, 2004
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"Adult Head provides a lyrical map to aspects of Wilcos stunning new album, A Ghost is Born
." -- Echo Weekly
"Tweedy... handles imagery and metaphor with skill and restraint ." -- The Journal News
These wonderful poems do not directly reveal themselves, but rather they are complex, cerebral constructions that require serious contemplation. -- The Reader, March 18, 2004
Tweedy stands on his own, proving not only the intelligence behind Wilcos lyrics, but a greater intelligence that lies somewhere deeper. -- Performing Songwriter, May, 2004
From the Inside Flap
"America's finest troubadours have always broken our hearts, and Jeff Tweedy is no exception. In this glorious first collection of poems -- wise, delicate, wry and compelling poems -- Jeff Tweedy reminds us again of the quiet oscillations in every life between the willed courage of humor and the inevitable tides of sadness. Don't be surprised to discover that this book is, at its very core, a deeply spiritual sequence of meditations and adventures." - David St. John
"Jeff's a poet. Always has been. That's apparent to anyone caught by his voice and guitar. He's not a rock poet. Adult Head is not some ego lark. Jeff writes words to convey his soul with a wholly natural sense. He has his heart inside the literature of poetry in all its straight-up and experimental lyrical historicity. He thinks maybe barking dogs are laughing! He thinks maybe the world is some kind of kitten. He still thinks we're serious. Word magic. And we're lucky he can sing it so sweet. A fair amount of you can't hug jeff; he's on stage. But you can hug this book. It hugs back." - Thurston Moore
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The Black Hours
are almost gone
the night is dissolving
in a cup of god lifted
to toast the lightning
high-pitched as it hums
and as your spine shines
with your soul, a shiver,
a fist so clear and trying
to climb into the unlit sky
you can see
there's so much less to this than you think
your mind's a machine
that's deadly and dull
it's never been still
and its will has never been free
it's almost dawn
and it's snowing again
I have never seen so much night
The imagery is always intense, and when a poem reads like a well-crafted song it's only more enjoyable to read. Definitly check this one out.
I am not sure how I would have felt about the poems in Jeff Tweedy's Adult Head had I read it prior to the release of Wilco's album "A Ghost is Born". Several of the poems, or at least some of their individual stanzas, have since appeared in song format on that album and changes, somewhat, the idea that the writing in Adult Head is poetry in a traditional sense. Lyrics for "Company in my Back", "Muzzle of Bees", "At Least That's What You Said", "Hell is Chrome", "I'm a Wheel", and probably some that I've missed, all appear in infant form within these poems making "Adult Head" more like an intimate portrait of Tweedy's songwriting process than a book of poetry.
Imagery and ideas are occasionally repeated ("Prayer #2"/"Muzzle", "Sister Invention"/"I'm a Wheel", "At Night"/"Blueheart Chrome") as if they are being polished until fit just right. Other times the "inital draft" feel is clear and a few pieces feel as if they have been meshed from several different thoughts. Often in the same poem a stanza will resonate all on its own but feel off kilter in context of the entire piece. "First This" is a strong example of the order (or disorder) of some of these works. The first two stanzas of "First This" hold together well but the third takes the reader just off base. However, if the poem is read with the last stanza first, the cohesiveness of the piece seems to come together and progress more readily. Of course, this may have been Tweedy's intention (especially in this case - the poem IS titled "First This"...) but the technique proves more of a distraction than a pause to consider. It seems Tweedy may even be aware of this weakness as he broke down the piece "Muzzle" into two separate songs on "Ghost is Born" - the first three stanzas becoming "Muzzle of Bees" and the last two becoming "At Least That's What You Said".
All of that said, there is still plenty of fresh material. "Way of Light (Christmas, 1978)" and its companion piece "Christmas, 1978, Later" catch the enormous emotional charge of coming of age - the pain of learning that childhood's magic is often just mundane trickery. "Doris" and "The Bench-Warmers Daughter" create such crystal clear character studies Tweedy might as well have pasted down photos as soon as words. "Easy Bake Oven" is innocently seething with its final line, "...and I've never been too sad to eat."
And there are, of course, those pieces that are just waiting to burst into song - "Temper, Temper", "Poison Color", "Blueheart Chrome".
Overall, an interesting body of work that should definately be revisited in light of "A Ghost is Born". A great companion piece to the cd but also a stand-alone book of unorthodox and highly personal poetry.
it's in the poems that branch away from song lyrics that he comes closer to capturing the elusive essence of good written poetry. I found the "Prayer" sequence particularly moving, and there are many more examples where Tweedy seems to be getting it right.
overall, what a volume like this shows is the difference between a good song lyric and a good written poem is. good song lyrics are general enough that the listener can feel as though every line depends on, and is relevant to, his or her own life. by contrast, good poetry is intensely personal and meaningful, however detached it may be from the events it describes. for my money, a singer-songwriter as talented as Jeff Tweedy is could write a fantastic volume of poetry--but this isn't it. this is pretty average, but I gave it an extra star because I happen to really like Wilco and Tweedy.