Sue, Jeff and Me

Every night at around 10 PM I get drowsy and spacy; my muscles feel like they’re about to collapse, and I know it’s time for bed. But instead of going upstairs to sleep, I am like my dog when she sees me holding her leash and harness: I run away. I really want to go to sleep, but it’s so much work to get there that I put it off. In fact, I have developed a nightly ritual on my phone. First, I do word games on the New York Times app, followed by their puzzles, then I go onto to play some solitaire games. And then, as if I’m looking down over a precipice, I’m feeling empty, so I frantically turn to Instagram, looking for anything of substance.

Initially, I see pictures of day trips my friends took and of babies of my nieces. Then I look at the video stories up top, and if it’s a Monday or a Friday, my eyes land on a happy accident: a picture of an old time jukebox lit up, with the moniker “Stuff In Our House” underneath. Stuff In Our House is the name used by Sue Tweedy, who is the wife of Jeff Tweedy, the lead singer of WILCO, which is one of my favorite bands. I’ve seen them a gazillion times.

When I see an outline around the jukebox, I light up as much as that jukebox itself. It means that there is something live happening right then and there. I happily tap on it, knowing that I will be able to slowly and surely get my teeth brushed, get the crème smoothed down on my skin, my jammies on, and lay in bed peacefully, because I am taking the Tweedys upstairs with me.   

Every Monday and Thursday on Instagram, Jeff Tweedy and his family put on a one-hour concert that they call “The Tweedy Show.” In the show, Jeff and his two sons serenade the audience, which they call “clients,” with his own songs, songs of WILCO, and lots of covers. It’s delightful. Jeff plays the guitar; his son Spencer plays the drums, and his other son Sammy is on vocals.  Spencer is one year younger or older than my daughter. He is family friends with one of my daughter’s best friends from college. Jeff’s wife Sue films the Tweedys on her iPhone. We can hear her, but we cannot see her. The banter between Sue and Jeff makes me laugh–a lot.

Spencer, Sammy and Jeff Tweedy
Spencer and Jeff Tweedy

They’ve been doing this for over a year now; they started off playing seven nights a week.

At one Show, two of the WILCO band members were visiting, and we saw Jeff Tweedy play with the rhythm section unplugged. WILCO is a great live band, and this special performance delivered.

Jeff and Sue Tweedy are real, and they’d like me a lot. I know it. They have a sense of humor that is similar to that of my husband and me. While they do their show, comments from the Insta followers (the Tweedy clients) stream through. Sue reads those that she thinks are funny or otherwise significant. Can I write something that catches her attention? Will that break the barrier between what I have with the Tweedys in reality vs. what I have in my head?

The Tweedy Show is watched by anywhere from 800 to 1200 people: enough to comprise a concert audience, but not quite respectable enough to be a decent sized TV audience. I doubt this will last more than a few more months: WILCO is touring this summer, and hopefully the pandemic will be abated enough for them to actually do that.

I was going to write that it’s a rare glimpse into an artist’s world, but I don’t know how rare it is. Anyone can share their lives on Instagram. Many celebrities put their lives on display for reality TV. Although not everyone shares their raw talent like the Tweedys.

In reality, I would be friends with Jeff and Sue Tweedy. Had they lived in our neighborhood, we’d have spontaneous dinners together. I know we’d be friends because I get their inside jokes that refer to earlier shows, family stories said in them, and people who have appeared in them. Jeff Tweedy says he enjoys what he and his family have with their clients. I do too, but I don’t think it’s real. After all, I may feel close to Jeff and Sue Tweedy, but the reality is that I have never met them.