by Andria Lisle
The acrimony has moved to the courtroom for former Wilco bandmates Jay Bennett and Jeff Tweedy, seen flanking a very tall fan in happier days.
News and rumors are currently bouncing around the blogosphere. Bennett, Wilco's onetime pianist/guitarist, is suing Tweedy, the band's founder and frontman. While this news isn't exactly Memphis-centric, Wilco have plenty of local fans. They even recorded their debut album, A.M., at Memphis's own Easley-McCain Recording Studio way back in the summer of 1994.
Go here for the full transcript of Bennett's lawsuit, which was filed in Cook County, Illinois last Monday. Citing a breach of contract, Bennett — who jumped ship in 2001 — is seeking $50K in unpaid royalties and other compensation. He also claims that he never signed a release for his appearance in the 2002 film I Am Trying To Break Your Heart, which documents the soured relationship between the two musicians.
Bennett says he's pursuing the lawsuit because he needs hip replacement surgery and, lacking health insurance, can't afford it. Coincidentally, as the savvy folks at Pitchfork Media have already noted, Wilco just released their rendition of "The Jolly Banker," a droll anti-capitalist ditty by Woody Guthrie, which can be downloaded here.
Here's the third verse of the song:
"When money you're needing, and mouths you are feeding,
I'm a jolly banker, jolly banker am I.
I'll plaster your home with a furniture loan,
Singin' I'm a jolly banker, jolly banker am I."
You can read the whole sordid story at the Chicago Tribune.
You can also listen to Wilco's brand new album, due for release on Nonesuch on June 30, here.
And, if you're uninsured like me, be grateful for the Church Health Center, which helps out Memphis musicians out all the time, so that we don't have to resort to hiring lawyers when our health gives out.