Sunday, May 24th, 2009
R.I.P. Jay Bennett (1963-2009)
Chicago Sun-TimesI’ve spent the night following some terribly sad news that I was hoping wasn’t true, but apparently is – former Wilco guitarist and songwriter Jay Bennett passed away this weekend. It’s unfortunate that Bennett is mostly remembered for the way he left the band, famously documented in the I Am Trying To Break Your Heart film, and not for the magic he brought to the band via production and songwriting from Being There through Yankee Hotel Foxtrot – still arguably their best three records.
I’d like to pay tribute to the man with one of my favourite Wilco tunes, which happens to be primarily a Bennett composition. “Venus Stop The Train” was never officially released, probably due to his departure for the band, but did surface on the much-bootlegged Yankee Hotel Foxtrot Demos collection as well as Bennett’s solo debut The Palace At 4am (Part I) albeit in a drastically different form. I much prefer the starkness of the Wilco version, with just Jeff Tweedy singing overtop piano presumably played by Bennett.
Bennett released a slew of solo records post-Wilco, the latest of which – Whatever Happened I Apologize – came out last year and is available for free download. He was working on his sixth, Kicking At The Perfumed Air, at the time of his death.
Such a sad, sad thing – rest in peace, Jay.