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Oral Report Based on Wilco Book Review

silverystars 14 / 105  
Oct 3, 2007   #1
I posted my book review project (of Greg Kot's book "Wilco: Learning How To Die") in a separate thread, but this concerns a related assignment: an oral report.

"Your oral report should include the highlights of your written report, but it should also include your evaluation of the book. if you state the the author held your attention well, you should have examples to demonstrate your opinion. You may use a graphic to help in your report. You should prepare to talk from 7 and a half to to ten and a half minutes. Although that may seem long, you will find that you must practice your presentation to stay within the time limit."

"Rubric: Content provides an appropriate introduction, organization, and conclusion. Highlights of the work are clearly given with adequate support. The student's evaluation of the book is objectively presented with appropriate support."

"Delivery: Spoke clearly, did not read from notes, uses appropriate gestures, movement, and eye contact to give a poised and professional presentation."

I must note that I am not much of a public speaker, but, since this is a subject I am interested in and generally feel at ease talking about it, I feel that will help. I have an idea of what I would like to present to the class, via the classroom's projector.

I would show the class a photos of recording artists. For example, a photo of rapper Kanye West, who I believe currently has the second-biggest selling album in the U.S., according to Billboard magazine. I would ask the class if they know who it is, and if so, was it because they have seen him on magazine covers, heard them on radio, seen them perform on MTV, etc. Another example might be a photo of Kelly Clarkson, who has, like Kanye, sold millions of albums in the U.S., and proceed to pose a similar line of questioning (who is it, and how do you know who it is?) I would try to then make the connection between the two that they are highly publicized.

The third example would be a photo of the subject of my book review, the band Wilco. I am betting that many people, including those in my class, will not be familiar with Wilco. I might point out that the band's albums sell, on average, about 250,000 copies apiece. Then I could talk about how the book explains that what makes them different is their non-radio-friendliness. Since they are not easy to define in sound, they are not as heavily marketed and promoted as Kanye and Kelly, ie. featured on magazine covers, on radio and MTV, etc.

Does this sound like a feasible approach? As always, I appreciate any and all feedback. Just so there is a point of reference, here is the current version of my written summary upon which I will be basing my oral report, adding my own evaluation, as well:

According to Chicago Tribune music critic Greg Kot in his book, Wilco: Learning How To Die, the sound of Jeff Tweedy's band Uncle Tupelo, which he founded in 1987 with high school friend Jay Farrar, was not hard to define: American roots music, such as bluegrass, country, and folk, filtered through the energy of fuzzy garage and punk rock. As their stature soared, Farrar's relationship with Tweedy within Uncle Tupelo grew tumultuous, leading to their 1994 breakup. In the wake of that split, Tweedy immediately formed Wilco, who have surprisingly become the complete opposite of what the music industry expects from major-label recording artists: a tough sell.

At first, Wilco was easy to categorize as merely a straightforward, countrified rock-and-roll band. But Kot notes that, with each album they have released, Wilco have continually frustrated the expectations of the public and the industry. From the sprawling but multifaceted double album Being There, to the densely elaborate, lyrically depressing pop of Summerteeth, Wilco has continually branched out ever farther from their rustic origins. With those creative strides, however, have come unexpected waves of change.

The book's most dramatic illustration of such changes occurs amidst the making and releasing of Wilco's fourth album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, which, at that time, was their most sonically and lyrically adventurous to date. During that time, Jeff Tweedy dismissed two members of Wilco and recruited a new drummer and producer. Soon after Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was completed, the band was unceremoniously let go by Reprise Records, due to the label's hesitance to release an album so difficult to market, so non-radio-friendly. Rather than waiting to release the album officially, Wilco began streaming it on their website for free, garnering attention from the public, the media, and record labels. Upon its release in 2002 on Nonesuch Records, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, became their highest charting and most selling album, casting a light of scrutiny on the current state of the music industry.

Over the course of its 244 pages, Wilco: Learning How To Die explores the restless search of Wilco, and in particular Jeff Tweedy, for experimental freedom in defiance of the music industry's desire for quick success and easy marketability. Kot details the pressures Tweedy has faced in that pursuit, such as reconciling his escalating fame with the responsibility of supporting a family, his various conflicts with bandmates and his record label, and his battle with painkiller addiction due to anxiety, depression, and crippling migraine headaches. Ultimately, the book is a championing portrayal of Jeff Tweedy and Wilco's struggle for personal and artistic satisfaction by challenging not only listeners, but also themselves, which makes for compelling and thrilling music biography.
EF_Team2 1 / 1,708  
Oct 4, 2007   #2

I think that's a very creative way to lead into the presentation of your book review! By engaging the class's participation, you will hold their attention. Then, when you present them with a picture that is not familiar to them, they will be intrigued and want to know more. In this day of mega-media marketing, it is very interesting to learn of a band with a different approach.

Good work!


Sarah, EssayForum.com

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