Yesterday’s post about Ronnie Wood sent me on a path of sidemen who have created exceptional work on their own. Which brought me, for the first time in years, to Jay Bennett.
Bennett was a member of Wilco from 1994 to 2001. A multi-instrumentalist, he was a wizard in the studio, whether producing, mixing or engineering. Bennett’s fingerprints are all over Wilco’s most interesting creative period, from “Being There” to “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.” Jeff Tweedy built the framework, but Bennett added the flourish that pushed it into new territory.
But Bennett also had an ear for melody. He and Tweedy co-wrote “My Darlin’,” which Wilco first released in 1999. Three years later, after being fired from the band, Bennett re-recorded it for his first solo record. This is the version I prefer, a sweeter, more broken rendering of a lullaby.
It’s beautifully punctuated at the end with a phone message from Bennett’s father, wishing him a Merry Christmas. By the end of the decade, after health issues and an accidental overdose, Bennett was gone.