In the late ’90s, Wilco recorded a couple of albums with British singer-songwriter Billy Bragg (Mermaid Avenue Volumes I & 2) on which they built songs from lyrics by protest singer Woody Guthrie. This was at a time when the economy was on the rise, Wall Street was bullish and it was only a matter of time before we were all brushing our teeth with liquid gold.
A decade on, the economy is in the toilet and Wall Street confidence has disappeared into the ether. But Wilco are still here! Their new album, the recently christened Wilco (the album), is out June 30. And yesterday they posted on their website a timely new cover of Guthrie’s bitter, sarcastic, “Jolly Banker.”
In the grand tradition of Radiohead’s In Rainbows, Jeff Tweedy & co. suggest a range of donations that can be made to the Woody Guthrie Foundation and Archives in exchange for downloading the track. In fact, if you happen to be “unemployed/underemployed or otherwise broke,” they recommend you contribute some money at a later date. If, on the other hand, you happen to be a “banker/hedge fund manager/credit default swap trader,” they suggest a minimum donation of $100, which does seem only fair.
Are you a fan of the Mermaid Avenue albums? What do you think of “Jolly Banker”? And how much will you donate?
More from EW’s Music Mix:
Brandon Flowers: Americans don’t care about new rock bands
Noel Gallagher sings in the shower for charity: See it here
Rivers Cuomo’s new DVD: An exclusive full-song “El Scorcho” clip
Take on Me: What are the best — and worst — cover songs?