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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Remembering Jay Bennett

By now you've probably heard that Wilco's former multi-instrumentalist Jay Bennett died over the weekend in his sleep in Illinois. He was just 45 and had no health insurance despite his desperate need for a hip surgery.

When we had Jay in for a session in 2006, he was affable and excited about his new album, The Magnificent Defeat. But, as one who follows Wilco and who has seen the pivotal scene (in the documentary I am Trying to Break Your Heart) with Jeff Tweedy that led to Jay's departure from the band a million times, I took away from our conversation that he never really got over the experience.

I recalled our conversation when I heard that Jay was planning on suing Wilco for unpaid royalties. I think the move spoke more to the state of uninsured musicians than holding on to a grudge, really.

Jay Bennett's talents are showcased on many records, including Blues Travelers's Bastardos, but to really tap into what this literal math genius and studio whiz contributed to rock and roll, pop in the dreamy, piano-soaked circus of "Pieholden Suite" on Wilco's Summerteeth.

RIP Jay. Thanks for being a driving force in the creation of one of my favorite records, Being There.

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