Wilco have entered the contribution to the canon of 2020 quarantine songs. “Tell Your Friends,” a bleary and majestic new ballad from the Chicago legends, is all about maintaining connections during lockdown and anticipating a joyous return to physical touch: “Don’t forget to tell your friends/ When you see them again/ O’ I love you/ O’ I love you,” Jeff Tweedy and his bandmates sing from somewhere deep within the music’s spacious swell. There are also some nods to classic rock ‘n’ roll in the mix: “I wanna hold your hand/ C’mon let’s twist again/ I wanna hold your hand/ When I see you again.” So, yeah, “Tell Your Friends” is a very pretty song in the downcast mold of last year’s Ode To Joy, not a Weeknd cover.
Wilco debuted “Tell Your Friends” on Stephen Colbert’s remote Late Show last night, but it was more of a music video than a performance. The studio recording of the song was paired with footage of each band member singing along at home with their families. It was cute, and it definitely drove home the song’s bittersweet point of view. As Tweedy explains in a press release, “We miss each other. So we wrote a song about it to sing with each other, to sing to each other.”
In addition to the premiere of “Tell Your Friends,” Tweedy contributed a solo performance of the Yankee Hotel Foxtrot classic “Jesus, etc.” — maybe the best song in Wilco’s whole catalog, and one that nearly brought me to tears when I saw a Tweedy solo performance last year. Check out the song and the Colbert videos below.