DURING the writing of Wilco's A Ghost Is Born frontman Jeff Tweedy was a physical wreck.
Struck down with debilitating migraines that often made him violently sick - plus anxiety and depression - Tweedy subsequently became addicted to prescription medication and wound up in rehab prior to the album's release in 2004.
Meanwhile, the band had lost original member and multi-instrumentalist, Jay Bennett, forcing Tweedy to become the band's lead guitarist.
All the while Wilco had to follow up the heightened expectations created by their 2001 breakthrough record Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, which has since been ranked in the top-four best albums of the 2000s by Pitchfork and Rolling Stone.
The result was the sprawling and haunting A Ghost Is A Born. An epic that fluctuated between krautrock (Spiders/Kidsmoke), Crazy Horse-style rock freak outs (At Least That's What You Said), breezy Americana (Muzzle Of Bees), Beatles-esque pop (Hummingbird) and even electronic drone music (Less Than You Think).
The album divided critics and fans, but for Newcastle singer-songwriter Lachlan X.Morris it's the US folk-rock giants' finest hour.
"It's not even their most accessible album, even if you're a fan of theirs, but for me it's a really visual album," Morris says.
"Jeff Tweedy had a way of projecting a time and a place with his lyrics that I haven't heard anyone else do. It comes down to that he's not really a showy trained singer.
"It makes what he's singing about a bit more real. I guess that's what first attracted me to the album. The way he puts words together."
Morris says Tweedy's guitar playing also made A Ghost Is A Born more "real" than Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.
"It's a bit haphazard and very casual," he says. "It gives it more force for natural feeling and you're not over thinking it because you're going with your gut."
Morris is one of the Newcastle's most prolific songwriters, honing his self-described "dad rock" sound of '70s-influenced rock across his albums Ouija Board Heartbreak Tambourine (2017), Premeditations (2018) and Mood Bullet (2019).
In the four years since Morris discovered Wilco, Tweedy's songwriting has had a major influence on how Morris approaches his own craft.
"Its given me more bravery to experiment with instrumentation and also I really respect how it's quite a sad album, but more triumphant than anything and not self-deprecating," he says.
"That's something I've grown not to enjoy listening to, overly sad self-deprecating music. I think sad music can still feel, maybe almost positive, on reflection.
"It doesn't have to be woe is me. It can be something that could be portrayed as sad.
"So I use it as bit of a tool to be like, you can sing about things that might have been sad, or disheartening, but you can paint or colour them on a record to portray many things, not just that one-dimensional emotion."
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