The EW 100: Music

Wilco
Image credit: PHOTOGRAPH BY MORAD BOUCHAKOUR

WILCO
Restless Rockers

WHY THEM Wilco's beautiful new collection of simple country jamming, Sky Blue Sky, contrasts sharply with the band's last studio album, 2004's dissonant and lyrically surreal A Ghost Is Born. The CD gave the sextet its highest-ever chart position — and was hailed by EW as a work that ''may be the best Eagles album the Eagles never made.''

GIVING US THE BIRD Frontman Jeff Tweedy (seated) was unimpressed by EW's Eagles comparison and subsequently described it as ''fighting talk.'' So, should magazine staffers avoid darkened alleys for fear of being jumped by the alt-country icon? ''Well, I don't have any vices left,'' laughs the Wilco singer, 39, who in 2004 entered rehab to treat an addiction to prescription painkillers. ''Wholesale slaughter is the only thing I have left to me! No, I understand that it was a compliment. But the Eagles have never been a big favorite of mine.''

JEFF TWEEDY: BOSS FROM HELL? Although the current band has been together for three years, Wilco's various personnel changes have led some to conclude that Tweedy may be a little lacking in management skills. ''One of the strangest things about coming into Wilco was that people would just walk up to me and say, 'So, is Tweedy an a--hole?''' says guitarist Nels Cline, 51. ''I don't know where this reputation derives from. I think he's a fantastic boss.''

TOYING WITH US The band recently unveiled a line of cool, if very similar, Wilco dolls. ''I can't tell them apart,'' admits Cline. ''Some friends asked which one was me — and I guessed the wrong one.''

NEXT Tweedy voices Goddy on the July 11 episode of Comedy Central's show Lil' Bush. ''They asked me if I was interested in playing God, and I said that's something I'm very comfortable doing,'' says the singer. ''I do it all day long.''

SECRET TALENT ''I was really good at sacrificing my body when I played baseball,'' says Tweedy. ''I was a good catcher — I could take a fastball on the inner thigh better than anybody. What was my secret? Stupidity.''

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