Hidden Gems: I Am Trying to Break Your Heart
By Les Winan
November 30, 2004
I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, Sam Jones’ terrific documentary on the making of Wilco’s fourth studio album, is a fascinating look into the recording process and life with a rock band. Jones’ filmmaking, while unflinching and intrusive, never seems to impede or encourage pretense.
What the film shows is an innovative American band continuing its artistic rise while hitting a crossroads interpersonally. Combining the outstanding music of Wilco’s album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot with the day-to-day life of the band, Jones’ camera captures the recording process, struggles with a record label, and most interestingly, struggles within the band.
Critically acclaimed, Wilco became the face of what is wrong with the music industry when, after massive acclaim for their previous two albums didn’t translate into equally massive sales, they were dropped by Reprise Records (a Warner Bros subsidiary) over their unwillingness to change Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Ultimately picked up by Nonesuch Records (a Warner Bros subsidiary), Yankee Hotel Foxtrot went on to win, among other accolades, the Village Voice’s Pazz and Jop Album of the Year award, and landed in the top 15 on the Billboard album charts.
IATTBYH is notable for music fans interested in the evolution of the album, frank discussions of interpersonal squabbles within the band, and a crisp, often funny, narrative. Jones is helped by the engaging personalities within Wilco, but ultimately, the filmmaking moves the story as much as reality does, and Jones should be commended for a winning eye, sharp editing, and being in the right place at the right time.
To read BOP's interview with director Sam Jones, click here.