Tell Me About That Album: The Whole Love

Bassist John Stirratt shares the story behind Wilco's eighth wonder.

SW: Is there any discussion before the writing process begins about a record's concept or mood or agenda?

Stirratt: It's usually unspoken until we have a few songs. [Sometimes] there will be multiple threads going on with a record. This one had that.

In years past, to try to get a more clean record, we've maybe gone one path. Sky Blue Sky was like that. This record just merged after a while. A sound wants to take over, and you have to sort of allow it.

It is a real challenge to make different sounds and different feels exist on a single record, and I think Wilco (The Album) was a less-successful version of that.

Can you tell me about the title and why it changed from the original idea, Get Well Soon, Everybody?

We had this album art that we thought sold the whole thing in a really good way, and we weren't able to get [it]. We had a lot of hopes wrapped up in the entire package. "The whole love" is parlance for detectives; when a suspect is about to give a confession, they say they're going to get "the whole love." And I think Jeff [Tweedy] got really attached to that idea.

Was it a famous artwork you wanted for the cover?

[Laughs] No, it wasn't all that famous, but they just wanted a lot of money for it. The [Joanne] Greenbaum stuff on the cover we thought would be part of the package regardless.

I love the album cover, the more spiral-y sort of things. After [opening track] "Art of Almost," where there was this almost abstract piece of music leading off the record, I think it really felt at home to me. It fell right into the sound and the look of the record to all of us.

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