AUK’s Chain Gang: Wilco “Via Chicago”

The previous Chain Gang offering was Dale Watson’s ‘Tucumcari Here I Come’ which required a search to learn was on ‘More Songs of Route 66: Roadside Attractions’. The choices available to link to songs relating to US routes and highways in Americana must be almost infinite. Obviously one option would be to revisit Highway 61 but even if you choose to stick on Route 66 then you have a choice of classics like ‘Well I’m Standing on a Corner in Winslow, Arizona’ which now has a park dedicated to it.

A review of the history of Route 66 revealed that the Main Street of America ran from Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California and from that point forwards the only track that remained determinedly in mind has been Wilco’s ‘Via Chicago’.

It is gloriously emotive, expressive and ambiguous. ‘Where the cups are cracked and hooked, above the sink, they make me think, crumbling ladder tears don’t fall, they shine down your shoulders’. The song was first released on ‘Summerteeth’ in 1999, but the live version on ‘Kicking Television, Live in Chicago’ is trashier and all the better for it.

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