meta-scriptJeff Tweedy's Blurred Emotions: Wilco’s Leader On 'Cruel Country' & Songwriting As Discovery |
Wilco Jeff Tweedy
(L-R) Pat Sansone, Glenn Kotche, Jeff Tweedy, John Stirratt, Nels Cline, Mikael Jorgenson

Photo: Annabel Mehren


Jeff Tweedy's Blurred Emotions: Wilco’s Leader On 'Cruel Country' & Songwriting As Discovery

"I'm trying to open myself up enough to see what's inside me," Jeff Tweedy says about Wilco’s 'Cruel Country.' "I'm just full of country songs and folk songs."

GRAMMYs/Nov 22, 2022 - 02:22 pm

With their 1994 debut album, A.M.Wilco accrued the "country" genre tag; for their latest album, they teased a full-chested embrace of it. "Wilco goes Country!" they announced; after famously swerving around the genre for almost 30 years with drone sculptures, Dadaist poeticism and motorik meltdowns, it was time to drink straight from the bottle, as it were.

But if you think about this multifarious band for a few moments, it was obvious that Cruel Country wouldn't — couldn't — have been as one-note as Wilco implied it would be.

The tongue-in-cheek lead single, "Falling Apart (Right Now)," offered zero foreshadowing of the aerodynamic suite "Bird Without a Tail / Base of my Skull." Or the heart-in-throat ballad "The Universe," which unfurls into the celestial "Many Worlds." Or the poppy "Hearts Hard to Find" — which is practically destined to remain in setlists as a swoony sing-along, on par with classics like "California Stars."

No, Cruel Country, which was released May 27, isn't strictly a country album — it adheres to the form more as a North Star than as a hard-and-fast requisite. What binds these songs more profoundly than their stylistic conceit is Jeff Tweedy's songwriting — which frequently explores how seemingly opposed human emotions commingle and inform each other.

"My experience of my own emotions is that they all interact," Tweedy tells over the phone. "They aren't individual, isolated things that you experience one at a time, and I think that's a really beautiful thing about being alive."

Hence, a song like "Tonight's the Day.""Between good and bad/ And what is true/ Between happy and sad/ I choose you," Tweedy sings: "Between hard and easy/ Surrender and escape/I heard you say/ There is no way/ It's the only way." Meanwhile, drummer Glenn Kotche plays pensively — like he's chewing on a heavy thought, weighing two equal and opposing truths.

Because of how Tweedy's brain works, he can tread a seemingly limitless breadth of philosophical territory — like the vast American horizons evoked in Cruel Country.

As a lifelong student of folk and country music dating back to pre-Wilco band Uncle Tupelo (and before), Tweedy's songs seem to fill the air, ground and water; every leaf he turns over might reveal a new tune, however strange and oblong.

"I do look at the act of writing songs as discovery as much as composition," Tweedy reflects. "It's like finding stones on the beach or something. They all have a certain value, if you're into looking at them… I get into a certain state of mind, and think to myself: I wonder what song I'm going to sing today."

Whatever might follow Cruel Country is bound to be interesting, at the very least. Comparing Wilco’s upcoming material to the new album, he says it's like "somebody dropped a weird shape into the desert." (The monolith from 2001 comes to mind — an unexpected, futuristic structure in what was thought to be a vast, unbroken plain.)

Until then, this double album, which is loosely conceptualized around the subject of America, is worth repeated communion — every spin of its commentary on messy democracy, westward expansion and philosophical contradiction will reveal something new. Especially when Cruel Country deals with human emotions — which, like the United States, can't be easily compartmentalized. caught up with Tweedy about the process behind writing and recording Cruel Country and why he saw a rare form of communal love in lockdown-era society.

He also discussed Wilco's recent triage of surprise sets at Carol's Pub in Chicago, the band's hometown, where they played cuts from the album as well as Americana classics.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

How was the Carol's Pub show? Did it engender a different sort of satisfaction than a typical Wilco show?

[Chuckles] It was really awesome. A fun, fun night.

We love playing, and we love getting to play in these beautiful theaters and festival stages and all the different places we get to play. But we very, very rarely get to play the way I think music was intended to be heard, you know?

The shows that mean the most to me in my life have been the shows I've seen in small clubs — just having that visceral connection, and being able to hear the instruments coming off the stage, and not just through the PA. There's just nothing like that kind of connection.

You can make a communal experience in any room, and you can make a big spectacle — arena shows, everything has their place, and music is an incredible force for good. But, in my opinion, nothing ever sounds quite as good as the way it sounds in a small room.

The sheer capacity of a giant venue might lend itself to a sort of passivity between the artist and crowd. I'm sure you get to touch more of an active force in a smaller room.

Yeah. I mean, the stage is low. You're almost eye-to-eye with the audience. I feel like you can hear people listening in a different way. The movement in the audience becomes more a part of how the band's playing. It's just a much more immediate give-and-take, I think.

Can you touch on some of the covers you performed, starting with Bob Dylan's "Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You"? What does that tune mean to you guys?

I've done that song a couple of times; I opened up a couple of acoustic shows with it one time. The Tweedy band — when I do shows with [sons] Spencer and Sammy, and our friends — we've done it maybe once or twice.

I just love the way it opens up a set. This message of "Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You" is, obviously, not what the song's about, but it's a nice thing to say to an audience. I think it's a nice introduction to a set.

How about the Tom T. Hall song "That's How I Got to Memphis"?

[Chuckles] That's just a great song. Something we just started playing in our dressing-room jam room, so we just threw it in the set.

One more: the Grateful Dead's "U.S. Blues," which I'm actually not that familiar with.

Deadheads are sure familiar with it. Boy, it really highlights and underlines the people in the audience who have that vocabulary [laughs]. When we play that song, it's amazing. There's a fair amount of crossover with our fans, it seems like.

When we kicked into that song the first time we did it, in an encore, I don't know if I've ever seen a reaction like that from such a sizable portion from the audience.

[Wilco guitarist] Nels [Cline] and I played a show with Phil Lesh and Friends; we were invited to do this festival set with them in Chicago. They wanted me to sing some Dead songs, and I picked a few that I felt like I could do well. That was one of them.

And then, when we got back to the Wilco tour, Nels and I were playing it in the dressing room again. It just sounded like something that fit in with the lyrics of Cruel Country; it has a similar commentary on the brokenness of the community.

And musically, it felt right in our wheelhouse, so we just kept playing it. It's fun.

To get into Cruel Country, I love that you waited months to play this show and open up to the press a little bit. Was this in an effort to let fans sit with the album for a while, to give it some space?

I think it's more just the reality of how Wilco operates. We're not super-concerned with album cycles. We [didn't] have the physical record to sell, or anything like that. We wanted to put the record out at our festival [Solid Sound], so we did it digitally.

It's probably not the best business decision, but it's the best artistic decision to just have these new songs and new material to play, and have people know what it is, because we like playing it.

We have another release this year; that's an archival release. We've done some stuff with that, but mostly, we're just out playing the songs that fit in with what we feel like playing right now.

When I watched you do an interview on camera at the Loft a few years ago, you were talking about how human emotions can't be neatly compartmentalized — you can be sad-hopeful, or pensive-hopeful, or happy-concerned.


It seems like Cruel Country's songs mutually gnaw at these nuanced psychological concepts. Was that something you were thinking about during the writing process? Is that partly why they swim in the same tank?

Well, I certainly think it's part of a broader philosophy of making music that feels honest to me. It generally involves blurring the lines a little bit in that regard; a song that's entirely joyous generally feels even more joyous to me if there's a little bit of darkness allowed into it — just as a reminder, or something.

I think that's the way life works. My experience of my own emotions is that they all interact. They aren't individual, isolated things that you experience one at a time, and I think that's a really beautiful thing about being alive. You can have a thought of mortality at the same time you're having a hot dog at a baseball game. [Laughs]

Can you talk about the song "Ambulance" a little bit? It's presented as this harrowing, autobiographical story, but I'm reluctant to take that at face value. I'd rather ask you about it.

Well, it's nothing autobiographical. Certainly, not literally. I was just trying to intuit a different scenario where there's some redemption for all of us. As a person that's an addict and in recovery, I think a lot about all the different paths that people take to getting healthier, and in some cases, I'm really relieved and grateful that I didn't experience more suffering.

At the same time, I'm pretty sure I suffered enough, [laughs] you know?

I'm not sure if this is intentional, but to me, "All Across the World" so succinctly captures the post-pandemic, post-Trump presidency milieu. So many people I deal with are trying to be functional and happy and return to normalcy, but there's a  shell-shocked look in their eyes. Is that in the ballpark of what you were going for?

I mean, the way I feel is that one of the things everyone is really struggling with is being immediately presented with the world's suffering upon requesting it. At any given moment during any day, we have more access to the lives and struggles of the globe, and the fears and concerns of everybody, everywhere.

Modern social media has provided us with what conceivably could be a really good thing — that we're more tuned in to each other in a way that you hope would present an opportunity to unite in some common understanding that we're all doing our best, and we're all pointing toward the future with the hope that it's better — or good.

So far, we haven't really evolved to that. The thing I think we have evolved to is that it's emotionally overwhelming, and most people have a difficult time processing all of that. Instead of talking about solutions and ways to problem-solve all of this suffering and awareness of global concerns, it's much easier to find people to blame.

That seems to be where we're stuck. So, in my mind, that song is kind of about, at the same time, being aware of all the things that I'm glad that I'm not experiencing. For example: just say a hurricane — whatever it is. Being aware of it, and finding some negativity to add to it doesn't help anyone.

It's like "putting your oxygen mask on, first thing" — that's a pretty succinct analogy to the way I think you kind of have to live right now.

I think it's important to converge your ability to be inspired, your ability to be joyous, and your ability to give a beautiful thing to the world, and hope for the best — and do everything you can to alleviate the suffering that you can have an immediate impact on.

I'm really moved by "The Universe." The impression I get is that it would seem it would take your whole life to write that song. What led you to write that one?

Not to give you a super-long answer, again, for a song that's, like, three minutes long. I don't know if all of what I just said is contained in "All Across the World," but that's what the thought process is that leads to a song like that. Same thing for "The Universe" and "Many Worlds."

At the beginning of the pandemic, one of the things that made me a little hopeful was the idea that, in a really fractured society that doesn't tend to share a lot of experiences across the board, we were all going through something similar. At least there was a similar fear being expressed around the world.

I think the opportunity was mostly squandered by leaders around the world not acknowledging it. Some places did better than others. But I felt moved by the idea that movie stars and presidents and dishwashers and trash collectors — everyone across the board — was basically navigating this one topic.

Whereas, for most of my life, I don't remember there being a single topic that you could guarantee everyone was at least somewhat aware of. It just underlined and highlighted a belief that we've maybe all expressed at some point — that we're all kind of in this together.

That was just made completely visible in that moment — in these moments that are still continuing, I guess, but it's definitely not the way it was at the beginning.

Probably, the thing that probably most inspired it was: early in the pandemic, when things were really shut down, I took a drive with my kids, and the highways were completely empty around Chicago. It seemed like a really powerful moment of love. There was enough concern for each other that people were actually adhering to these public health guidelines.

It wasn't like, "Oh my god; everyone's being controlled by the government." It was more like, "OK, everybody gets it — at least enough to know this is what needs to be done right now." I found that really beautiful.

"Story to Tell" seems to exist hand-in-hand with "Darkness is Cheap," in the sense that it deals with notions of sticky narratives, of gripping tales, of plundering or killing yourself to be legendary. Which is obviously so pervasive in rock 'n' roll lore. What were you trying to impart with that first one?

I think we hear about it a lot in the art and music worlds, because of the pervasiveness around tortured artists and creators and the connection between that type of suffering and creativity.

But I don't think that there's any market being cornered by [laughs] a musician on that particular topic, because I know a lot of people who don't make songs or art in my life that have caused themselves needless suffering — almost as a way to create what they feel like is a real life. To not feel numb or alienated.

I think at one point, when I was younger, it did feel like I wouldn't have anything to write about of value to anybody if I wasn't in pain. And that's nonsense, and everybody should know it's nonsense.

The last one I want to touch on is "Country Song Upside-down." The melody just seems to fall out of your guitar and voice, and it comports with what I imagine the Cruel Country sessions were like — just grabbing country songs out of the air.

We have a place in Michigan that's a little bit more secluded in the woods. We call it "the cabin." That's what that song makes me think of.

I do look at the act of writing songs as discovery as much as composition. In fact, I'm much more comfortable with the idea — not that I'm opening myself up as a conduit to the universe or something like that; I don't necessarily believe in that.

I just think that I'm trying to open myself up enough to see what's inside me, clearly. To discover something I didn't know I wanted to say. And that's just what I'm full of. [Laughs] I'm just full of country songs and folk songs. 

It's what I've listened to the most in my life, or something. I'm not tired of them, either. It's like finding stones on the beach or something. They all have a certain value, if you're into looking at them, you know? That's how I feel.

It's a much less judging state of mind — just pretty thrilled at the idea that, to keep with the analogy, that maybe I'm going to find a really good, flat stone to toss out on the lake.

Jeff Tweedy Wilco

*Wilco. Photo: Anton Coene*

Stepping away from your songwriting a little bit, can you talk about your bandmates' MVP moments on Cruel Country? I think of Glenn on "Tonight's the Day"; I can't imagine any other drum part on the song than the one he played.

Oh, yeah. That, and I think Pat really has a lot of breakout moments on this record, where he gets to play more guitar than I think he's ever played on a Wilco record. It just colors the whole record in a really beautiful way.

It's like a tapestry, or something — the way he and Nels started figuring out how to interact with each other. It's like an audible commune, you know? [Chuckles]

The band as a whole is really visible on this record, or really audible — partially, or mostly, because of the nature of recording it all in the same room, at the same time. We've made a lot of records in a lot of different ways, but it's been a while since we've done that.

We've played a lot of music together since the last time we did it, and that's what I hear when I hear this record.

People think of musicians and bands as being these static things — they got to a certain point where they were good enough to be heard and put out records. The way I look at it, almost all the bands and musicians I'm interested in and care about feel like they never quite got there — and they continue to grow, and continue to aspire to find out more of what it is they're capable of.

It's along the same lines as the songwriting concepts I was discussing. It's really, really gratifying to feel like you got a little bit better at something. And as a band, it's really gratifying to feel like we made something that we very, very profoundly, deeply know we couldn't have made five years ago, without all the miles that we've traveled together in between.

What can you reveal about the eventual follow-up to Cruel Country?

I don't know if the style of recording is going to change that much, but the types of songs — it's a collection of songs that really wouldn't fit into the Cruel Country landscape.

Maybe they would! They'll definitely fit in live. But it's going to be more like somebody dropped a weird shape into the desert, or something.

It's the furthest-out, striving kind of material for the band — striving for a new shape, striving for something that's exciting to us, that we don't feel like we've heard before. Definitely, something we don't think we heard ourselves play before.

28 Essential Songs By Wilco Ahead Of Their New Album Cruel Country

Cheryl Pawelski and Jeff Tweedy
Cheryl Pawelski and Jeff Tweedy

Photo: Daniel Boczarski


Jeff Tweedy & Cheryl Pawelski Sit Down For "Up Close & Personal" Chat: 'Yankee Hotel Foxtrot,' Writing One Song & More

Cheryl Pawelski is the producer and curator of 'Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (20th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition)', which won a GRAMMY in 2023 for Best Historical Album. On Feb. 27, she sat down with Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy about all manner of creativities.

GRAMMYs/Mar 11, 2024 - 02:48 pm

"We don't get the applause. That's later."

That was an offhand comment from Sarah Jensen, the Senior Executive Director for the Recording Academy's Midwest Chapter — ahead of a conversation between Cheryl Pawelski and Jeff Tweedy. But given the nature of the ensuing chat, it's oddly apropos.

On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of Wilco's seminal Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, four-time GRAMMY winners Tweedy and Pawelski chatted before a hometown audience at the Rhapsody Theater in Chicago. Pawelski produced and curated Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (20th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition), which won Best Historical Album at the 2024 GRAMMYs; Pawelski accepted the golden gramophone on their behalf.

Today, 2002's ambitious, deconstructionist Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is just about universally revered as a watershed for alternative music. But in a David-and-Goliath story told and retold since its release — especially in the documentary I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, Yankee was rejected by its label, Reprise.

Wilco left their label, published Yankee on their own website, and it became a tremendous hit. Nonesuch — which, like Reprise, operates through Warner Records — picked them up, meaning the same record company, in effect, paid Wilco twice.

Ever since, the applause for Yankee Hotel Foxtrot — the one with the immortal "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart," "Jesus, Etc." and "Ashes of American Flags" on it — has been unceasing. And, naturally, a hefty chunk of Pawelski and Tweedy's conversation — for the Recording Academy's "Up Close & Personal" interview series, and MCed by Chicagoan family music artist Justin Roberts — revolved around it.

According to Tweedy, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was a pivot point, where they decided to move away from any sort of pastiche.

"There are a lot of things on the boxed set," he said — referring to the plethora of alternate versions of well-known tracks — "where I would listen to them now and go, 'That was good enough.' But it wasn't satisfying… Rock and roll was built on that thing, above all else… be yourself, without any apology, and on purpose."

The "Up Close & Personal" session didn't start with Yankee, though; it started with How to Write One Song, Tweedy's 2020 treatise on the process of… well, writing one song. Which gets as psychologically and spiritually incisive as Tweedy fans would expect.

"I think music in general is a safe place to fail," the prolific songwriter stated. "When you take your ego out of it and you look at it as a daily practice of spending time with yourself in your imagination… once you do it for a long time, it really makes the notion of failure almost quaint or something."

When it comes to songwriting, the 11-time nominee said "nothing's really ever lost. You learn something about yourself writing terrible songs. I know myself better because of the songs that you've never heard."

Tweedy offered other helpful concepts and strategies, like accumulating enough voice memo ideas — for so long — that you can treat them like the work of a stranger. "I'll go through and listen through a bunch of stuff like that," Tweedy quipped, "and go, 'Who wrote this?'"

Pawelski went on to elucidate her rich legacy in the music business — including her fight to get the Band's deep cuts, like Stage Fright, included in Capitol's music budget. (She's worked on archival projects by everyone from the Beach Boys to Big Star to Willie Nelson across her decades-long career.)

Read More: Jeff Tweedy's Blurred Emotions: Wilco's Leader On Cruel Country & Songwriting As Discovery

Tweedy also discussed the magic of collaboration. "I've gotten really good at being alone with people. So I think that facilitates collaboration to some degree," he said. "What I mean is being as forgiving of myself with other people in the room as I am with myself alone."

What was one of his favorites, Roberts inquired?

"The one that probably will always be the most proud of is getting to work with Mavis Staples and contributing something to her catalog, to her body of work that seems to have resonated not just with her audience or a new audience, but with her that she likes to sing, that means something to her. I think that would've satisfied me without it winning a GRAMMY [in 2011]."

When the conversation drifted to Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Pawelsky discussed the foreboding process of digging through the sessions' flotsam and jetsam.

"The world kind of changed during the making of this. The band certainly changed, and also, technology changed," she explained. "So we had everything — we had DATs, we had ADATs, we had tape, we had cassettes, we had CD-Rs."

About her process: "I go backwards and try to reconstruct how things happen, and it's always incomplete and I don't know what I'm missing, so it's extra fun. But this particular record was done and undone in a lot of ways… some of the latter recordings sound like they're earlier recordings."

As Pawelski admits, the prospect of stewarding Yankee was "kind of terrifying" because of how meaningful the record is. "It really was a Rubik's cube. I would get the orange side done and I'd turn it over."

As the talk wound down, the subject of Wilco's latest album, Cousin, came up — as well as Wilco's rare use of an outside producer, in Cate Le Bon.

"I thought that it would be really a catalyst for getting something different out of the songs that I write," Tweedy explained. "I like the idea of working with a woman, which I felt like has not happened that much in rock and roll, from my perspective

"So that felt like an inspired bit of lateral thinking," he continued. "that felt so right to me to get to — and that she wanted to do it, and that we were friends, and it did."

To go "Up Close & Personal" with Tweedy is unlike most interviews; his brain simply works different than most, and you walk away pleasantly scrambled and transformed.

Which is what the Yankee Hotel Foxtrot sessions were like — and thank goodness for Pawelski, who shows it's not merely a masterpiece: in all its alien transmissions, vulnerable one-liners and shattered poetry, Yankee continues to engender GRAMMY glory.

Songbook: A Guide To Wilco's Discography, From Alt-Country To Boundary-Shattering Experiments

8 Music Books To Read This Fall/Winter 2023
Britney Spears - ' The Woman In Me,' Jeff Tweedy - 'World Within A Song' and 'Tupac Shakur The Authorized Biography' by Staci Robinson


8 Music Books To Read This Fall/Winter: Britney Spears' Memoir, Paul McCartney's Lyrics & More

As 2023 nears its end and the holidays approach, add these books to your reading list. Memoirs from Dolly Parton and Sly Stone, as well as histories of titans such as Ella Fitzgerald are sure to add music to the latter half of the year.

GRAMMYs/Nov 24, 2023 - 03:58 pm

If you’re a music fan looking to restock your library with some new reads, you’re in luck. With the second half of the year comes a dearth of new music books recounting the life and times of some of the most celebrated artists in the history of the artform are hitting shelves. 

From Britney Spears' much talked-about memoir that tackles the tabloid tumult of her life and Barbra Streisand’s highly anticipated autobiography (which clocks in at nearly 1,000 pages), to tomes that recount the lives of Tupac Shakur and Dolly Parton, it’s time to get reading. Read on for some of the best music-related new and upcoming books to add to your collection. 

The Woman In Me

By Britney Spears

One of the most highly anticipated books of the year, Spears' memoir has been a blockbuster in the weeks since its release. When it was announced that the singer was writing a book, fans and observers braced themselves for what she would reveal when it comes to her tumultuous life and career. The result is a no-holds-barred look at how an innocent girl from Louisiana became swept up in the tsunami of fame, as well as the resulting wake. 

The Woman in Me details Spears' halcyon younger years as part of the "New Mickey Mouse Club," her explosive career, the blossoming and collapse of her relationship with Justin Timberlake, and the punishing conservatorship concocted by her father. Spears doesn’t hold back, but also shouts out the figures who provided solace and kindness: Madonna, Elton John, Mariah Carey, and former Jive Records president Clive Calder. The Woman In Me proves to be an unflinching, eye-opening look at the swirling tornado of music, fame, love and family, for better or for worse. 

My Name is Barbra

By Barbra Streisand

Since her early '60s breakout to her current status as a bona fide living legend, Barbra Streisand has lived a lot of life. Streisand's 992-page tome breaks down her humble beginnings growing up in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and her subsequent stratospheric life during which she received a whopping 46 GRAMMY nominations and released many timeless songs. Along the way, she also became the first female in the history of moviemaking to write, produce, direct and star in a major motion picture (Yentl). 

It’s all a long time coming, considering Jackie Onassis first approached Streisand to chronicle her triumphant life in 1984 (at the time, the former first lady was editor of Doubleday and Streisand was a mere 20 years into her iconic career). "Frankly, I thought at 42 I was too young, with much more work still to come," Striesand recently told Vanity Fair. It’s an understatement considering all that’s happened since.

THE LYRICS: 1956 to Present

By Paul McCartney

One of the most celebrated artists of all time, McCartney's genius songwriting is on full, glimmering display in THE LYRICS. Newly released in a one volume paperback edition, the book puts the Beatles' way with words front and center while offering popcorn-worthy backstory. 

Originally published to acclaim in 2021, the updated version includes additional material and insight from Macca himself on the creation of some of the most indelible hits in music history, including the 1965 Beatles hit "Daytripper." 

"The riff became one of our most well-known and you still often hear it played when you walk into guitar shops," wrote McCartney of the track. "It’s one of those songs that revolves around the riff. Some songs are hung onto a chord progression. Others, like this, are driven by the riff." 

Behind the Seams: My Life in Rhinestones

By Dolly Parton 

"It costs a lot of money to look this cheap!" So says luminary Dolly Parton, in a self-deprecating and witty and also patently untrue famous turn of phrase. While Parton’s life story has been recounted numerous times on the page and on screen, Behind the Seams zeros in on not just her trials and tribulations, but her unmistakable style. 

Packed with nearly 500 photographs, the book traces Parton’s looks from the sacks she used to dress in as a child in poverty to the flamboyant visuals associated with her stardom. "I’ve been at this so long, I’ve worn some of the most bizarre things," Parton recently told the Guardian. "My hairdos have always been so out there. At the time you think you look good, then you look back on it, like, what was I thinking?"

Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)

By Sly Stone

The 80-year-old reclusive frontman of Sly and the Family Stone has certainly lived a lot of life. From his early days as part of the gospel vocal group the Stewart Four, Stone and his family band later became fixtures of the charts from the late '60s into the mid-'70s; a journey traced in the new book Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin), named after their 1969 song of the same name.  

Known for funky, soulful and earworm signature hits including "Dance to the Music" and "Everyday People," the band won over the hearts of America, influencing legions of fans (including Herbie Hanckock and Miles Davis) and gaining a few enemies (the Black Panther Party). The book chronicles those ups and downs (including drug abuse), tracking Stone up to the modern era, which includes receiving the Recording Academy's Lifetime Achievement Special Merit Award in 2017. 

Becoming Ella Fitzgerald: The Jazz Singer Who Transformed American Song

By Judith Tick

Ella Fitzgerald is one of America’s most iconic voices and the full breadth of her story will be told in the first major biography since her death in 1996. Known as the First Lady of Song, the 13-time GRAMMY winner is known for her swingin’ standards, sultry ballads, scat and everything in between.

Out Nov. 21, the vocalist’s historic career is recounted by musicologist Judith Tick, who reflects on her legend using new research, fresh interviews and rare recordings. The result is a portrait of an undeniable talent and the obstacles she was up against, from her early days at the Apollo Theater to her passionate zeal for recording and performing up until her later years. 

"Ella was two people," her longtime drummer Gregg Field told in 2020. "She was very humble, very shy and generous. But when she walked on stage she was hardcore and didn’t know how to sing unless it was coming from her heart."

World Within a Song: Music That Changed My Life and Life That Changed My Music

By Jeff Tweedy

Aside from his extensive discography with Wilco and beyond, Jeff Tweedy is the author of three books: his memoir  Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back), a meditation on creativity called How to Write One Song, and his latest, World Within a Song. The latter expertly examines a variety of songs by a disparate spate of artists, from Rosalía to Billie Eilish with Tweedy’s singular take on what makes each song stand out along with what he dubs "Rememories," short blurbs that recount moments from his own life and times. 

Much like his songwriting prowess, it’s a book where Tweedy’s way with words shine with shimmering eloquence. "My experience of my own emotions is that they all interact," Tweedy told last year. "They aren't individual, isolated things that you experience one at a time, and I think that's a really beautiful thing about being alive."

Tupac Shakur: The Authorized Biography

By Staci Robinson

One of the giants of hip-hop finally gets his due with an official recounting of his life and times. Here his legend is told by the authoritative Staci Robinson, an expert on the star who previously wrote Tupac Remembered: Bearing Witness to a Life and Legacy and served as executive producer of the FX documentary series "Dear Mama: The Saga of Afeni and Tupac Shakur."

Here, Robinson reflects on Tupac’s legacy from a modern perspective, and tracks the history of race in America alongside the rapper’s life and times, from the turbulent '60s to the Rodney King riots. Along the way are the stories behind the songs including "Brenda’s Got a Baby." 

"In between shots (of filming the movie Juice) I wrote it," Shakur is quoted saying in Robinson’s book. "I was crying too. That’s how I knew everybody else would cry, ’cause I was crying.’" 

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Collage image featuring photos of the presenters for the 2024 GRAMMY nominations


How To Watch The 2024 GRAMMY Nominations: St. Vincent, Jeff Tweedy, Muni Long, Kim Petras, Jon Bon Jovi, "Weird Al" Yankovic & More To Announce The Nominees; Streaming Live Friday, Nov. 10

The nominations for the 2024 GRAMMYs will be announced on Friday, Nov 10, starting at 7:45 a.m. PT / 10:45 a.m. ET. Watch it live on and YouTube.

GRAMMYs/Oct 30, 2023 - 02:00 pm

It's that time again: The 2024 GRAMMYs is just a few months out — airing live Sunday, Feb. 4, from Arena in Los Angeles. Which means nominations for the 2024 GRAMMYs are just around the corner. On Friday, Nov 10, starting at 7:45 a.m. PT / 10:45 a.m. ET, nominations for the 2024 GRAMMYs will be announced via a livestream event airing live on The nominations will also stream live on the Recording Academy's YouTube channel

The 2024 GRAMMYs nominations livestream event will feature a diverse cast of some of the leading voices in music today, including St. Vincent, Jeff Tweedy, Muni Long, Kim Petras, 2024 MusiCares Person Of The Year Jon Bon Jovi, and many others, who will be announcing the 2024 GRAMMY nominees across all 94 categories. Plus, the livestream event will also feature an exclusive GRAMMY Nominations Pre-Show and Wrap-Up Show, which will both feature exclusive videos and conversations about the biggest stories and trends to come out of the 2024 GRAMMYs nominations.

City National Bank is the Official Bank of the GRAMMYs and proud sponsor of the 66th Annual GRAMMY Awards Nominations.

See below for a full guide to the 2024 GRAMMYs nominations livestream event happening next week:

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How Can I Watch The 2024 GRAMMY Nominations? 

The nominations livestream event will stream live on and the Recording Academy's YouTube channel.

When Are The 2024 GRAMMY Nominations Announced?

The 2024 GRAMMYs nominations will be announced Friday, Nov 10. The day kicks off with an exclusive GRAMMY Nominations Pre-Show, starting at 7:45 a.m. PT / 10:45 a.m. ET. Hosted by Emmy-winning TV host and “GMA3” contributor Rocsi Diaz, the GRAMMY Nominations Pre-Show will give music fans an inside look at the various initiatives and campaigns that the Recording Academy, the organization behind the annual GRAMMY Awards, supports on a year-long basis on its mission to recognize excellence in the recording arts and sciences and cultivate the well-being of the music community.

Afterward, starting at 8 a.m. PT / 11 a.m. ET, the GRAMMY nominations livestream event begins. The livestream event will begin with a special presentation announcing the nominees in the General Field categories, aka the Big Six, as well as select categories. On, exclusive videos announcing the nominees across multiple categories will stream as a multi-screen livestream event that users can control, providing a dynamic, expansive online experience for music fans of all genres. The nomination videos will also stream live on YouTube. The full list of 2024 GRAMMYs nominees will then be published on and immediately following the livestream event.

After the nominations are announced, stay tuned for an exclusive GRAMMY Nominations Wrap-Up Show. Co-hosted by "Entertainment Tonight" correspondents Cassie DiLaura and Denny Directo, the Wrap-Up Show will break down all the notable news and top stories from the 2024 GRAMMYs nominations. The GRAMMY Nominations Wrap-Up Show will stream live on as well as the Recording Academy's YouTube channel, X profile, Twitch channel, TikTok page, Instagram profile, and Facebook page.

Watch the 2024 GRAMMYs nominations livestream event and make sure to use #GRAMMYs to join the conversation on social media as it unfolds live on Friday, Nov. 10.

The schedule for the 2024 GRAMMYs nominations livestream event is as follows:

GRAMMY Nominations Pre-Show
7:45 a.m. PT / 10:45 a.m. ET

Nominations Livestream Event
8 a.m. PT / 11 a.m. ET 

Nominations Livestream Event Ends & Full Nominations Revealed
8:25 a.m. PT / 11:25 a.m. ET 

GRAMMY Nominations Wrap-Up Show
8:25 a.m. PT / 11:25 a.m. ET

^All times are approximate and subject to change.

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Who's Announcing The 2024 GRAMMY Nominations?

Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr. will be joined by GRAMMY winners Arooj Aftab, Vince Gill, Amy Grant, Jimmy Jam, Jon Bon Jovi, Samara Joy, Muni Long, Cheryl Pawelski, Kim Petras, Judith Sherman, St. Vincent, Jeff Tweedy, and "Weird Al" Yankovic, along with "CBS Mornings" co-hosts Gayle King, Nate Burleson, and Tony Dokoupil, to announce all the nominees for the 2024 GRAMMYs. 

When Are The 2024 GRAMMYs?

The 2024 GRAMMYs, officially known as the 66th GRAMMY Awards, will air live on Sunday, Feb. 4, at 8-11:30 p.m. ET/5-8:30 p.m. PT from Arena in Los Angeles. Music's Biggest Night will air live on the CBS Television Network and stream on Paramount+. 

Mark your calendars now for the 2024 GRAMMY nominations happening Friday, Nov 10.

With additional reporting by Morgan Enos.

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Kendrick Lamar GRAMMY Rewind Hero
Kendrick Lamar

Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic


GRAMMY Rewind: Kendrick Lamar Honors Hip-Hop's Greats While Accepting Best Rap Album GRAMMY For 'To Pimp a Butterfly' In 2016

Upon winning the GRAMMY for Best Rap Album for 'To Pimp a Butterfly,' Kendrick Lamar thanked those that helped him get to the stage, and the artists that blazed the trail for him.

GRAMMYs/Oct 13, 2023 - 06:01 pm

Updated Friday Oct. 13, 2023 to include info about Kendrick Lamar's most recent GRAMMY wins, as of the 2023 GRAMMYs.

A GRAMMY veteran these days, Kendrick Lamar has won 17 GRAMMYs and has received 47 GRAMMY nominations overall. A sizable chunk of his trophies came from the 58th annual GRAMMY Awards in 2016, when he walked away with five — including his first-ever win in the Best Rap Album category.

This installment of GRAMMY Rewind turns back the clock to 2016, revisiting Lamar's acceptance speech upon winning Best Rap Album for To Pimp A Butterfly. Though Lamar was alone on stage, he made it clear that he wouldn't be at the top of his game without the help of a broad support system. 

"First off, all glory to God, that's for sure," he said, kicking off a speech that went on to thank his parents, who he described as his "those who gave me the responsibility of knowing, of accepting the good with the bad."

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He also extended his love and gratitude to his fiancée, Whitney Alford, and shouted out his Top Dawg Entertainment labelmates. Lamar specifically praised Top Dawg's CEO, Anthony Tiffith, for finding and developing raw talent that might not otherwise get the chance to pursue their musical dreams.

"We'd never forget that: Taking these kids out of the projects, out of Compton, and putting them right here on this stage, to be the best that they can be," Lamar — a Compton native himself — continued, leading into an impassioned conclusion spotlighting some of the cornerstone rap albums that came before To Pimp a Butterfly.

"Hip-hop. Ice Cube. This is for hip-hop," he said. "This is for Snoop Dogg, Doggystyle. This is for Illmatic, this is for Nas. We will live forever. Believe that."

To Pimp a Butterfly singles "Alright" and "These Walls" earned Lamar three more GRAMMYs that night, the former winning Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song and the latter taking Best Rap/Sung Collaboration (the song features Bilal, Anna Wise and Thundercat). He also won Best Music Video for the remix of Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood." 

Lamar has since won Best Rap Album two more times, taking home the golden gramophone in 2018 for his blockbuster LP DAMN., and in 2023 for his bold fifth album, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers.

Watch Lamar's full acceptance speech above, and check back at every Friday for more GRAMMY Rewind episodes. 

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