I have to admit that the news of Jay Bennett’s passing still has really me reeling hard. An immensely talented, unique and vital artist– gone. Yeah, we all know the story– Jay wore out his welcome as a member of Wilco, as far as Jeff Tweedy was concerned, and got the boot. They had heated differences over musical styles and the future of the band. It’s an old and familiar tale that often ends in separation.
That being said, I truly believe this to be true– If everyone involved has the same exact ideas and vision, then someone is obsolete. Artistic tension can be healthy, and sure can create sweet music– like “Cars Can’t Escape” which some say Tweedy left off Yankee Foxtrot Hotel just to spite Jay. At the end of the day, a lot of this stuff boils down to a swordfight– whose is bigger. Tweedy won, Jay was done. Wilco is Tweedy’s band anyway. Always has and always will be.
What also struck me hard about Jay’s passing is that it profoundly underscores that the healthcare system in this country needs fixin’ yesterday. Seriously. When will it finally matter enough that we actually do something about it? You think of someone like Jay Bennett, a fairly well-known and successful musician having to suffer in pain like that– putting off a major surgery for lack of insurance that for all we know could have contributed to his death. How many others are in pain or at risk? There are countless families in America that either simply don’t have access or can’t afford it. It makes me think that we as a country have some major priorities out of whack here. We’re bailing out corporations that perhaps don’t merit being rescued because of their own mismanagement, greed and obsolescence– obsolescence that in a lot of ways is healthy and necessary for the market to correct itself and weed out that which is inferior, unhealthy or unsustainable. Maybe we’re standing in the way of progress and evolution. Gasoline-powered automobiles and printed newspapers simply aren’t going to be as big in the very near future as they once were– I think we all realize that. Throwing money at them and trying to prop it up to save jobs isn’t going to stop the wheels of change, it’s just delaying the inevitable pain. It doesn’t seem right at all that the government is playing God when it comes to the car companies, and the taxpayers are footing the bill– a lot of whom have either crappy coverage or no insurance at all. What are we really saving, and at what cost? Let these companies deal with fate and the results of their action or inactions like the rest of humanity. If you get lazy and greedy, and fail to innovate and stay relevant– the world just isn’t going to wait for you to catch up. It doesn’t owe you that courtesy. It’s about merit. You have to go out and earn your spot everyday, or deal with the consequences.
On a lighter note– I’ve noticed Jeff Tweedy seems to be taking on a strong resemblance to boxing great Roberto Duran. I’ve always been a big Roberto Duran fan. Sugar Ray Leonard was such a no class, show-boatin’ punk.