When the first boy musician ever to look my way told me he liked Wilco, my automatic 19-year-old response was, "Oh, yeah. Me, too."
I had never heard of Wilco.
He enthusiastically asked if I loved A Ghost Is Born, and I was like, "HELL YEAH I DO, THAT SHIT IS MY JAM," and my Catholic guilt rushed into his fancy (framed posters) downtown (Helena, Montana) apartment and filled up my lungs with a millennium of unsaid Hail Marys.
So I went out and bought A Ghost Is Born so I could engage in meaningful discussions about Jeff Tweedy's neck beard and hopefully get to first base. The boy knew I liked Pavement and assumed that, by default, I knew every band with a scruffy white frontman.
I listened to A Ghost Is Born 5,000 times and went to a Wilco show in Missoula with his friends during the Sky Blue Sky tour and faked my way through knowing that whole set, my heart racing as I stared at Tweedy's denim jacket, trying to guess what syllable I could logically mouth next.
No, it didn't occur to me that I could figure out if I liked something on my own. That would come much, much later.
I went to confession later that weekend. The priest was like, "Wait, you pretended to like what?" And I stammered, "A seminal alternative band called Wilco." And the priest actually said, "Oh yeah, I loved Yankee Hotel Foxtrot," and then gave me 10 Our Fathers. I crawled back to my dorm room in abject shame. I left the Catholic Church soon after.
What I Think Now: The very next autumn, my friend, his sister, told me that every early morning that she had to open our local Starbucks, she sat in her car listening to "She's a Jar" from Summerteeth.
I hadn't listened to Summerteeth. I bought it immediately and fell for real in love with Wilco. It was big and immediate and lush, like Robbie Robertson was quietly guiding those live sessions. I sat in my car, alone, and listened over and over. Soon afterward, way after that boy told me he was not super into me no matter how many bands I liked, I discovered that Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is magnificent.
When I was 23, I started dating an actual studio engineer who told me that Summerteeth sucked because of the production, and I looked him right in his eyes and told him to shove it, which was the first real time I defended the art that I love.
Was It Worth It: You bet. I found a band I loved, figured out that priests sometimes listen to Wilco, got to first base, and found the confidence to tell a man that his opinion on music didn't change my own. Jeff Tweedy and his cactus neck made me the woman I am today. Also, I still can't get into A Ghost Is Born.