25 years of Chicago: Amplified
1983 1993 1994 2001 2003 2004 2005 2015
Frontman Shares Struggles

Jeff Tweedy

Explore the moment.
Jeff Tweedy is the lead singer and creative force behind the band Wilco. In the early 2000s, he was suffering from severe depression, panic attacks and a painkiller addiction. When Eight-Forty-Eight Host Steve Edwards interviewed him in 2004, he had just gotten out of rehab.
It's been really trying, a pretty dark time. It's easily the most difficult time in my life.
1m 05s
Steve Edwards:

What does music do for you?

Jeff Tweedy:

The main thing music does for me is that it focuses my mind in the present. It's really hard to play a piece of music if you're drifting off. You'll lose your place. It's a form of meditation I've found, that's really effective for me. When you are inside of a song, you lose your sense of self. You feel a connectedness to something outside of yourself, and at the same time it's very enriching, because it's coming from you. It's coming from a part of you that you don't have access to all the time, your unconscious mind.

The main thing music does for me is that it focuses my mind in the present.
2m 52s
I'm very interested in the way children make art ... And I really think that, as an artist, you never really go anywhere different that that. You're never evolved from that at its core. You might refine your ability to frame it, and edit it into something that is digestible to a broader segment of the population, but the core of it, the raw material, is allowing yourself to make stuff up, and not be so hard on yourself.
6m 02s
Looking Back: Steve Edwards

The Tweedy interview, to this day, is one of my favorites. When I sit down for an interview, what I'm looking for is for somebody to be reflective and honest and insightful about themselves, about their motivations, about the decisions they had made, and the work that they did. The magic that happens, if somebody's willing to do that, is you learn so much more about them and yourself and the human condition. That was precisely the case with Jeff Tweedy.

Apart from him being one of the most important musicians of the last 20 years and a beloved figure within music, a guy at the height of the band's fame and his own fame who'd also along the way struggled with his own problems with addiction, he'd just come out of rehab and he was in such a contemplative place, that he was willing to go naturally into all sorts of things, into his own life.

The thing I remember more than anything was him talking in really rich and telling ways about his own creative process and Wilco's creative process, how collaborative and improvisational they were.