There will be some nomenclature, some rhetorical subdivision, some dreaded categorization and definition in what follows. Unless you’ve never had good sex, you’ll agree that sometimes, drawing lines is good. Lines like “good sex” and “bad sex.”
I had just finished giving the Duchess of Hardcore Activists the drilling she’d asked for. It had been thorough, lighthearted, and a tad kinky. Overcome with curiosity as we sat on her bed toweling off, I had to ask how I stacked up. The Duchess is a woman of remarkable intellect and beauty, capable of mobilizing hundreds, even thousands. People like that are doable in the extreme, and to ignore that is like pretending water isn’t wet or something.
“You were wonderful,” the Duchess replied. “Top form, very dedicated, committed, you brought your A-game, and I love you to death for it.” I sensed that there was a “but” in there somewhere, or at least something that gave some context to her unusually enthusiastic remark. Sensing that I sensed it, she went on: “You won’t believe what some guys are like. Can I just tell you?”
And she did. She proceeded to tell me about a rather soft fellow, a good looking guy with a heart of gold and a lot going for him, who convinced the Duchess to give him a go. It was an underwhelming half-afternoon. “He was on top of me, but it was like he wasn’t really on top of me. Every time he started to do something which I thought I might enjoy, might really make me wet, he hesitated and stopped. None of his moves were decisive. They all sort of blended into each other, with a sort of nonthreatening softness.”
I must have had a disgusted look on my face, because she looked up and me and nodded, “yeah, right?” She sort of shrugged. “And he’s a great guy; I can forgive him for his weaknesses in bed, but what really sticks out in my mind is that the music he put on for sex: Wilco. And that made me lose all respect for that band.”
It’s been about ten years since hating on Wilco officially surpassed killing a ferret among the least forgivable transgressions among the hippies.* The comments that follow are not meant as totalistic indictments of the band. Rather, they aim to support just one important principle, one which progressive males ignore at their peril: Wilco isn’t meant to be sex music.
When Uncle Tupelo broke up, it was like the Star Trek episode where, following an accident with the transporter, Captain Kirk was divided into a savage, hypermasculine form, and a wimpy, overcontemplative form. While Jay Farrar and Son Volt are far from hypermasculine, their gravelly, beer-driven musical grit does make Jeff Tweedy’s ensemble** look fairly quilting bee in comparison. Tweedy certainly sounded like a real man when he sang with Uncle Tupelo. Granted, a man with a high-pitched voice, but a hard-driving, truck-dwelling country boy regardless. The typical Wilco song is ephemeral and unpredictable in comparison. Unpredictable music is great to listen to when you’re in the mood to do nothing but listen to music. It’s bad driving music, though, and even worse sex music. The following is only a very tiny list of better sex music acts than Wilco: La Tigre, Bad Religion, KISS, Spandau Ballet, the band that backs up Jello Biafra and isn’t allowed to call itself Dead Kennedys, Pansy Division, The Art of Noise, Pearl Jam, all the bands that tried to sound like Pearl Jam, and most other acts out there, really. Enya might be worse sex music than Wilco. I’d rather fuck to Tori Amos than fuck to Wilco—in fact that’s not even close; Tori’s angry, and she covered “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Jeff Tweedy would never cover that song.
Something else the Duchess said that night about her unsuitable lover could also metaphorically describe a few Wilco songs, and –a point the Duchess eventually developed—the soft politics of Wilco-loving liberals: “At one point he did something that, for a second or two, I thought might make me wet. He dragged me by my ankles to the edge of the bed. But he was apologetic almost immediately after that. Let’s just say it didn’t go the direction I thought it might go.”
“And let me throw this one at you,” she continued. “As you know, I enjoy a good, hard slap on the ass during sex. Now, I know nothing about his own preferences or what kind of lover he is, but Jeff Tweedy sings like he’d never think of striking a lover out of passion, even at her request. Listen to the lyrics of ‘I Must Be High’*** if you want to question my skepticism of Tweedy’s sexual mojo.”
“I don’t get it,” I said, playing devil’s advocate. “You’re a progressive person. You’re a militant localist, a crusader against GMOs, an unapologetic defender of gay rights, and an advocate for domestic violence victims. And you’re sitting here, naked and hot, on a bed, telling me that a certain progressive alternative rock alt country band is not ‘manly’ enough and that someone’s not ‘man’ enough to fuck you?”
“I know it sounds terrible, but I’m being totally honest. I love manly men. And I don’t want indecisiveness and hesitancy in my politics either. I want revolution, not reform. And Wilco is the perfect band for those wishy-washy centrists who support the Obama administration and fancy themselves radicals. I need a man who isn’t afraid to rip off my clothes, and we need people who aren’t afraid to rip apart the foundations of traditional politics.” She may have said more after that but all I could think about was how badly I wanted her again.
* I use “hippies” in the most general and expansive sense.
**The group named itself “Wilco” after the military and commercial aviation radio voice acronym for “Will Comply” — a choice Tweedy called “fairly ironic.” Because pointing out irony is very sexy, as is naming your band after an aviation acronym.
*** “And I must be high to say goodbye, bye bye bye” Enough said about that.