Do you like books, but find it to be complete bullshit that they don’t play songs and YouTube videos for you? Me too! I blame that a-hole, Johannes Gutenberg. Movable type? More like type that’s just sitting on there on the page, putting me to sleep. Amiright or amiright?!?
THANKFULLY, Wilco is here to save the day (they did say they’d love us, baby). The group has released an iBook entitled The Incredible Shrinking Tour of Chicago, documenting a 5-show mini-tour of their hometown that took place last December. The book is free of charge, and includes set lists, photos, audio from one performance of ”One Sunday Morning (Song For Jane Smiley’s Boyfriend),” and a YouTube video of the band rehearsing “The Weight” with Mavis Staples and Nick Lowe. It’s a really slick experience, one well worth checking out, even if you weren’t in attendance at any of those 5 December shows.
Seeing this material presented in this format for the first time brought me all the way back to 1997, when I was 12, the Internet was just starting to be a thing, and Silverchair was one of my favorite bands in the whole world (What? Don’t pretend you’re not happy that I just gave you an excuse to watch the “Tomorrow” video without feeling like Uncle Rico). That’s because, as you might remember, Silverchair’s sophomore album, Freak Show, came on an enhanced CD, with a little card that read, “This compact-disc contains an Extra Multimedia portion. Put this disc on your CD-ROM drive and check it out!” I couldn’t have been more psyched when I saw this. The future had arrived! Jet packs couldn’t have been far behind! My excitement vanished, however, when I put the thing in my parents’ computer and got totally freaked out by how dark and creepy the nightmarish, carnival-themed interface was (if anyone wants to go toe-to-toe on childhood wussiness, bring it on; I got stories). I don’t think I even saw/heard whatever extra material was there to been seen/heard. I remember the album itself being darker than my tastes at the time, as well, though I can’t remember whether the CD-ROM was the chicken or the egg in that situation.
Fortunately, The Incredible Shrinking Tour of Chicago didn’t freak me out, but instead allowed me to plug my headphones into my iPad and walk around the house feeling a bit like the future had arrived again. I have no idea if this type of experience will become popular (maybe it already is in educational contexts), but I did learn one thing last night — placing your iPad next to the sink while you brush your teeth is a recipe for a wet iPad. Grab Wilco’s iBook here and check out the album version of “One Sunday Morning (Song For Jane Smiley’s Boyfriend)” below, along with the video of that backstage rehearsal of “The Weight.”
Wilco — “The Weight” (with Mavis Staples and Nick Lowe)