The Joup Friday Album: Traveling Wilburys – Vol. I

Album cover Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1In the supergroup pantheon, who really considers The Traveling Wilburys? Treated like a shameful secret among superfans of each of the group’s members (Roy Orbison, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, and Bob Dylan), The Wilburys were an ‘80s “two-off” group that got together to spin folksy, watered-down Southern gothic kind of tunes that hovered around some of the easy listening stations of the time.

Abhorring anything Jeff Lynne and his omnipresent drum machine, my boyfriend Batdad Tu mocks the ever-loving shit out of this group. Granted, they’re not his beloved (fill in the blank of whatever superhero troupe Josh Homme is assembling at the moment), but my soft spot for – and defense of – The Wilburys shall remain unwavering.

Picture it: Huber Heights, Ohio, 1986. As suburban as it gets. An ancient Dodge van that only my old man knew how to start and drive, and a tape deck that rotated maybe three tapes: Linda Rondstadt’s greatest hits vol. 1, an incredible mix tape of AM tracks that I’ve kept to this day, and Traveling Wilburys, Vol. 1. My dad fucking LOVED this tape. I’ve inherited his tendency to play the same song over and over, but thanks to prehistoric technology, one pretty much listened to the whole side through before reversing it. Nothing was digital, and thanks to that, I can hear any one song on this album and immediately start singing the next one on the album.

There was only one track he consistently skipped, and I have to say it’s the one true clinker on the album. “Congratulations” is just stupid, and (probably not coincidentally, because he grates on my last nerve) a Dylan ballad.

But never was there a better contemporary ballad of drug dealing and doomed love gone wrong than “Tweeter and the Monkey Man” (I’ll allow Dylan’s caterwaul here because the song kicks your mom’s ass). “Dirty World” is essentially a big sleezy come-on that’s gotten better with time. “Heading for the Light” is actually one of my top five favorites of all time.

Top. Five. Come at me, music bros.

The Wilburys (complete with a stupid legend and individual monikers given, no doubt, by marketing) went on to make Vol. III. See what they did there? Yeah, we’re going to forget this one exists, despite the fact it has gone on to clutter up the deluxe vinyl compilation that was released earlier this year. Because it sucks.

I should be tagging someone here… Amy!



Melissa Fowler

Melissa Fowler

Smart, opinionated, crabby, fortysomething who loves to word. Hates squirrels; rampant stupidity in the form of willful ignorance, bigotry and intolerance (yeah, reconcile THAT); and is starting to realize that Mike Judge is indeed a soothsayer.

One Response to The Joup Friday Album: Traveling Wilburys – Vol. I
  1. Shawn C. Baker Reply

    Excellent write-up Melissa! And if those music bros do come at You, I’m putting my $ on You! (and I’ll have Your back. Love me some TW)

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