I just heard a song from sky blue sky on a VW commercial. Wha????
Wilco naturally defended their choice to shill for a car company, and given my great love for all things Wilco and all things Tweedy (except for when he gets fucked up on pills and backs out of coachella the one stinking time I can actually go), I tried to give them the benefit of the doubt. I really did. What they said even makes a bit of sense. Doesn’t it?
But I can’t hide it, my annoyance is there, my disappointment is real. I wouldn’t call them sellouts (for a true example of sellout, listen to liz phair’s exile in guyville, and then pick up that awful self-titled CD of hers that came out a few years ago…you will cry, guaranteed), but it’s certainly left a bitter taste in my mouth.
Wilco’s only saving grace here is the music…it hasn’t changed over the years to appeal to a broader audience. I know this because I’m involved with them intimately, I’ve taken refuge in them, they are part of me. So this car commercial deal is not the worst thing in the world, because they aren’t altering their work just to be IN the commercials. And really, they can do whatever they want with their music and make money off of it however they can. I don’t begrudge them that.
But it’s reasons like THIS that keep me from being totally okay with it.
Those birds don’t know the first thing about the beauty and joy contained in wilco’s music and they never ever will. She went to myspace to learn about Wilco. myspace. MYSPACE. And now, here they are sitting next to me, in my actual space, my sacred special place, simply because they watched a freaking TV commercial. Do they think that grants them the same rights and benefits, that they’ve earned the same from Wilco as me?
oh hell no. hell hell hell no.
Wilco can drop their songs wherever they want and pretend like it’s all kosher, but I know better. I fully believe that all music is not for the masses. The masses dilute it, they sully it, they destroy it, with their blank minds and insatiable hunger. They don’t deserve to be part of it. I know I’m an elitist when it comes to music; I’m okay with that, it’s a curse and a blessing, but mostly a blessing. It’s true though: with great power comes great responsibilty. Maybe Wilco doesn’t understand that.
Giving movies and TV shows the right to play your music is worlds apart from giving car companies that same right. To me, you’re saying “my art is so valuable it can sell you anything” OR “my art is so invaluable it can sell you anything.” Either one degrades the purity. Whatever your reasons, it has consequences. And you may get to pick what company is using your music, but you don’t get to pick when that commercial is played, or what other commercials surround it. You want people watching Age of Love or fucking laguna beach thinking “hey wilco is cool!”???
so why, wilco, why? Is it just for the money? Is it because you guys really really love VWs? Or you think that Volkswagon is a great company that does great things for the world? Is it because you want every chump watching TV to hear your music? Really, that’s what you want? What’s the real reason? You don’t owe us any explanations, I suppose, it would just be nice.
On one of the message boards, a user posted a quote from Tom Waits on this very subject. Tom Waits gets it. He gets everything though, that is one cool dude.
“Songs carry emotional information and some transport us back to a poignant time, place or event in our lives. It’s no wonder a corporation would want to hitch a ride on the spell these songs cast and encourage you to buy soft drinks, underwear or automobiles while you’re in the trance. Artists who take money for ads poison and pervert their songs. It reduces them to the level of a jingle, a word that describes the sound of change in your pocket, which is what your songs become. Remember, when you sell your songs for commercials, you are selling your audience as well.”
So maybe that’s what really bothers me. I’ve put more of myself into their music than all of these people who are hearing them for the first time, not because they want to, but because of an advertisement. I’m invested, they are not, and it just doesn’t feel right. It’s not that I don’t want people to love Wilco’s music. But they should have to work for it, too. We are owed as much. Hearing them in these commercials makes me feel cheated. I don’t want taken from me what I’ve cultivated, with careful and deeply felt deliberations. I’ve made the effort for years and I’m rewarded for that by hearing their music while some stupid car drives around the screen.
I’ll be okay. I think. Like I said, worse things have happened.
all that being said, there surely must be a few musicians I’ve “discovered” via a commercial; I can’t think of any offhand, but I know there must. Which makes me a jerk of the highest order–it’s okay for me, not for you.
But it’s wilco, my beloved wilco, and I feel so dirty now. don’t they?
- Lego star wars dudes are cute and blocky.
- I’m straight stuntin