Why Glen Phillips is Responsible for me Liking Good Music

Remember the band Toad the Wet Sprocket? Damn, did I love those guys in high school. And college. And graduate school. And even still today, if we’re being totally honest. In fact, I recently backed their Kickstarter campaign for the new album they recorded (got the digital download just the other day. It’s quite good, in fact).

But this isn’t really about them.

After they broke up, the lead singer, Glen Phillips, embarked on a quiet, stripped down solo career. He released a string of subtle, beautiful albums that I still listen to even today.

And he’s the reason I listen to Wilco and Greg Brown.

See, on his first solo album, Abulum, he had a song that featured the line, “And it’s sadly sweet/Like a Wilco song.” I’m highly susceptible to musical suggestion, it turns out, so I decided to give these Wilco guys a listen. I started with the (then) most-recent album they’d put out, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.

So yeah, I was sorta hooked from that point forward.

Wilco led me to Uncle Tupelo and Son Volt. Those led me to other alt-country bands, like the Jayhawks and Whiskeytown. That led to Ryan Adams (maybe we shouldn’t pursue that thread too far). So it’s fair to say that a good chunk of the music I love can be directly traced to that one line in that one Glen Phillips song.

As for the Greg Brown connection, Phillips did a cover of “Small Dark Movies” on his Live at Largo album, and that song got its hooks into me deep. The Greg Brown album that song came from originally, Further In, still cracks my head open and pours my brains on the sidewalk every time I hear it. It’s just so damn perfect.

So I guess the point is this: you never know where a lyric might take you. You never know how you’ll gain access to a new band or a new album. If you stay open to it, you might find yourself falling down a pretty deep rabbit hole, and it can be a great trip.

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