I think what surprises me most about the life of Jay Bennnett isn't how much he was liked...but how much he was disliked. Here are some excerpts from the comments on itunes about his album, The Magnificent Defeat:
"it's like listening to nails on a chalkboard," "quite painful," "inadequate song writing"
These are comments I would expect of someone reviewing a teenager's 4-track garage demo. Not of someone who has an immensely beautiful voice. It is unfortunate that Jay will never be truly recognized for his musical offerings during his lifetime. Even his wikipedia page is barely filled to half-mast. It's a shame that a guy with 5 solo discs to his name that used to be a major songwriting force in one of the most respected bands of the 00s, cant even get a discography page in his wikipedia profile.
I know much of the animosity toward Jay stems from the Tweedy blow-out...but that shouldn't tarnish his music. What's most surprising about the split, is that though Bennett and Tweedy thought they were heading in two opposite musical directions, their post-break-up releases have surprising simularities. After Jay left Wilco, Tweedy released the experimental A Ghost Is Born...while Jay released the experimental Magnificent Defeat. Wilco followed it up with the mellow and basic Sky Blue Sky while Jay released the mellow and basic Whatever Happened I Apologize. I think they had more in common than they thought.
Jay's most recent album, Whatever Happened I Apologize, is available for free download from his record label, rockproper.com. There has been a push to get the album released on vinyl. A Kickstarter page has been started for donations. Best part about it, if you donate as little as a dollar...you get your name in the liner notes. How cool is that?
It seems that Jay struggled all his life to find his proper place. Musically, he tried everything from playing, to singing, to producing. At the time, it appeared he was searching to find his niche. Never happy with just doing one thing. But in retrospect, it was Jay's ambition to do it all that made him as superbly talented as he was. Hopefully, in death people may give Jay's music a second chance and find out what an amazing artist he was in his own right. He will be missed.
Here are the 11 Best Jay Bennett Songs:
- The Engines Are Idle (Whatever Happened I Apologize)
- Replace You (Magnificent Defeat)
- Talk To Me (The Palace at 4AM)
- Thank You (Magnificent Defeat)
- C.T.M. (The Palace at 4AM)
- Hank (Whatever Happened I Apologize)
- God's Coffee (Bigger Than Blue)
- 5th Grade (Magnificent Defeat)
- My Wicked Little One (Bigger Than Blue)
- Puzzle Heart (The Palace at 4AM)
- Pretty Good Year (The Beloved Enemy)