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Not many albums come prepackaged with their own multilayered mythos, but that’s just one way among many that Wilco’s iconic fourth album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, broke free of rules and expectations. The album celebrates its 20th anniversary this year and its origin stories have become roots music folklore by now.
But even before the album was officially released in stores on April 23, 2002, its complicated origin story had played out for months via interviews, magazine articles, blog posts, and any other medium covering music news. The loss and replacement of band members, record label disputes, intra-band creative turmoil, “now or never” pressures, early online self-distributed streaming innovations, unintentional connections to the 9/11 tragedy the year before, and the unique situation of being dropped by a label and then essentially being re-signed by the same label through a subsidiary are just a few of the unorthodox narrative threads tied to this significant album. To add another interesting layer to the legend, by an incredible stroke of serendipity the vast majority of these storylines were captured as they transpired and packaged into an intimately shot behind-the-scenes documentary by Sam Jones called I Am Trying To Break Your Heart... Click here for the rest of this article.