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Wilco, Neal Francis Release Live Version of ‘Theologians’

Neal Francis Wilco
Wilco's Sky Blue Sky at the Hard Rock Hotel Maya Riviera on January 17-21, 2022 in Puerto Aventuras, Q.R. (Credit: Dave Vann)

Fellow Chicago-based acts Wilco and Neal Francis are releasing their recent collaborative live version of Wilco’s “Theologians” as a one-day-only digital single, with proceeds to benefit the Chicago-based social impact organization My Block My Hood My City and the International Rescue Committee’s efforts to aid Ukrainian refugees. The track will be available exclusively through Bandcamp on a “pay what you want” basis.

This rendition of “Theologians” was recorded Jan. 20 at Wilco’s Sky Blue Sky festival in Riviera Maya, Mexico. Mexican artist Daniel Herrera designed the cover for the download, the original version of which can be found on Wilco’s 2004 album A Ghost Is Born.

“As a Chicagoan, I’ve spent most of my life looking up to Wilco, so naturally I was thrilled when they asked me to sit in at Sky Blue Sky,” says Francis. “The band was gracious enough to allow me to pick the tune I would play with them, which presented its own challenge because they have so many songs I love. My girlfriend suggested ‘Theologians,’ as it’s one of her favorites. I liked that choice because it has a great piano part, and the lyrics really resonate with me as someone who continues to contemplate spirituality.”

As previously reported, Wilco is about to salute the 20th anniversary of its classic LP Yankee Hotel Foxtrot with a run of shows in New York and Chicago, where it will play the album in full. Over Memorial Day weekend, the group will return to MASS MoCA in North Adams, Mass., for its annual Solid Sound Festival, which skipped the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Francis has a packed touring schedule in the weeks to come in support of his latest ATO album, In Plain Sight, including his own headlining dates, support slots with Amos Lee and appearances at the Hangout and Newport Folk Festivals.