Is happiness a bad thing for music? Everyone knows the cliché of the prodigious musician who just isn’t as good after getting clean, and that some of rock & roll’s most venerated talents died young as a result of a mix of drugs and depression. So does that mean that successful, veteran rockers should pack up their Telecasters and bust out the shuffleboard? That seemed to be the sentiment when Death Cab for Cutie recently released Codes and Keys, a record that many people dismissed for not being melancholy enough. But I don’t buy it. Maybe it’s because I tend to get emotionally attached after following someone’s career, but I like when musicians seem happy, and that’s one of the reasons I’m digging Wilco’s cover of the Nick Lowe song, “I Love My Label.” Some context: Wilco just founded their own record label, dBpm Records, which is notable in part because Wilco’s dispute with Reprise Records over the label’s refusal to release the band’s breakthrough album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, made them poster children for sticking to one’s creative guns in the face of corporate pressure. That was 2001, and ten years later, it’s wonderful to hear the band relish their success as they begin this new chapter of their career with dBpm’s first release, a 7” single of new song “I Might,” with the delightfully ironic “I Love My Label” B-side. My copy came in the mail on Saturday, and I fell for both songs right away. “I Might” sounds like a band having fun — fun fuzzy bass, fun driving snare, fun everything; and “I Love My Label” is the cherry on top of an exciting moment in the band’s career. Founding dBpm Records means that no one can tell Wilco their music isn’t good enough to be released (except Jeff Tweedy). Check out both songs below, and if you’re a vinyl person, click here to buy the 7” single.
“I Love My Label”