The Friday Morning Listen: Wilco - The Whole Love (2011)


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Salon writer Touré misses monoculture. This isn't the monoculture of a Starbucks every 1 1/2 miles, bookending the Walmart and the Lowes. Obviously, that monoculture hasn't gone anywhere. No, this is what Touré refers to as “Massive Music Moments," when a release is so huge that it dominates the culture. The examples given—Nevermind, Purple Rain, Thriller, It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back—were popular, or at least well-known, with a large segment of the public. Their popularity made all of us members of a “tribe" of fans.

Yeah, I get that. Though people in the younger generations would probably disagree (because a. they don't know any better and b. they're supposed to), the phenomenon attached more import to these cultural signposts, making the music a permanent part of our timeline. Touré misses the “shared obsession" of particular album. I do remember that. Early in my own timeline, it seemed that nearly everyone owned that first Van Halen album. We did obsess over it, talk about it while we listened...over and over again.

For a number of reasons, not the least of which is our fractured cultural attention span, this doesn't happen much anymore. Is the impact an overall negative on our culture? That's hard to say, partly because the story hasn't been finished. Things have changed a lot in recent years, but the process isn't done. We don't yet have the long view of how this will impact the artists, the fans, and the labels. (OK, maybe we do know what will happen with the labels).

So Wilco released The Whole Love this week. I had intended for this to be an actual review of the album. But I like it so much that I'm having a hard time getting a grasp on it. It's so good that if I let my mind wander, I can let myself believe that nearly everyone I know must have a copy already. We'll be talking about it every day...while we listen. In truth, it's only a handful of my writer cohorts and other friends. It's a mini-monoculture. It'll have to do.

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