It’s been a good couple of weeks for longtime Wilco  fans. On Friday, September 7, those who subscribe to the band’s e-mail newsletter were informed of a new development. The pertinent part of the email read as follows:

Beginning with the Chicago show next week, we're testing a way we'd like to utilize the site (and you) in a new way.... You can now vote for songs that the band will play that night by using the form linked to below. We'll tabulate the results and the band will definitely utilize them when drafting the set list. So cast your vote today.

As a laundry list of songs that stretch back to the band’s earliest A.M. days through the Woody Guthrie Mermaid Avenue albums to its latest, Sky Blue Sky, it’s a dream come true for diehard fans as many of the songs have been dormant for years. And, sure enough, the band made good on its word beginning with its hometown Chicago show at Jay Pritzker Pavilion on September 12.

During the band’s first three-song encore, they trotted out “Cars Can’t Escape,” a demo from the Yankee Hotel Foxtrot sessions that has never been officially released and was last played by the band in November 2004. For the second eight-song encore, two fan favorites remerged: “Box Full of Letters” and “Casino Queen,” both off the band’s debut, A.M. While “Casino Queen” was played last year, “Box Full of Letters” had not received full-band treatment since September 2003.

There was more A.M.-goodness to come two days later. During the band’s opening set at The Palladium Ballroom in Dallas, most fans were probably a little unclear about what founding bassist John Stirratt was starting to sing given that he almost never takes a lead vocal—ever. The slow, moping country-tinged tuned was “It’s Just that Simple,” also from A.M., the only original Wilco song Stirratt has ever sung over the course of nine some-odd albums. What’s surprising is how long its been shelved—nearly 12 years—given that Stirratt is quite comfortable singing lead in his side projects, one with his sister Laurie called, appropriately, John & Laurie, and the other with Wilco bandmate Pat Sansone named the Autumn Defense.
 
Other songs that have made it back into regular rotation, at least for the time being, include another A.M. gem, the rocker “Too Far Apart” (fallow since 2000 until this past August) and “Red-Eyed and Blue” off Being There (last seeing action in 2004).

The Gibson-toting Jeff Tweedy and company continue their U.S. tour through late October before heading to Europe for a quick two-week run. Who knows? Maybe they’ll play one of your forgotten favorites.