Monday, February 15, 2010

The Deeper In: Yankee Hotel Foxtrot -- Introduction

Relative to its legend, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is like a gold nugget suspended in a jello mold. The dramatic sequence of events that surrounded the album's release was famously captured by Sam Jones in I am trying to break your heart, the filming of which surely found Jones turning to his cameramen and asking, "Holy shit, are you getting all this?" at least a few times. The songwriting, the spats, the eventual rifts, the chundering, the incendiary phone calls, blended with that rich swirl of dramatic irony afforded by the album's eventual success. All in all, a documentarist's dream sequence.

Undeniably fascinating, the documentary has also cast a shadow that can obscure the album's standalone brilliance. The uneducated observer might conclude that YHF's success and/or critical reception has been unduly inflated by the collateral fanfare (i.e. the documentary, delayed release, and the backstory in general). I mean, if every album had such a unique birthing process and artsy black-and-white documentation, perhaps they'd all be classics, right?

I shouldn't have to hammer out a tome to prove the absurdity of such statements. In reality, it boils down to the time-tested life cycle of hype: Buzz, approval, backlash, support, dissent. And finally, like a boulder rolling off a fencepost, the album will thud to one side of that "classic status" barrier. At this point, YHF is a confirmed member of the the elite (a position given water by its charting on virtually all best of the decade lists.)

But even that is just an objectification of something that cannot be objectified (something I would never do...) So why is Yankee Hotel Foxtrot so great? In this month's "The Deeper In", I will defend the album's lofty status through hard-hitting critical thematic (over)analysis. I'll explain my interpretation of YHF as a thematically rich album that, despite what it seems, bears a positive message. Over the next three days, I'll first offer my personal account of familiarization with YHF. Then, I'll offer a lengthy (and I do mean lengthy) analysis of the album proper. Finally, I'll wrap it with a few afterthoughts on Thursday.

As always I welcome any feedback, supplementary ideas, or outright disagreements. Until tomorrow!

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