“I’ve Got It! I’ve Got It!”–An introduction to Yo La Tengo

"I've Got It!"

"I've Got It!"

The first entry in the “Deep End” series. A mix collecting the best from garage rock pioneers and indie rock royalty, Yo La Tengo.

“I’ve Got It! I’ve Got It!”–An introduction to Yo La Tengo [click2download]

All tracks by Yo La Tengo

1. “Cherry Chapstick” from And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out

2. “Winter A-Go-Go” from Summer Sun

3. “Stockholm Syndrome” from I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One

4. “Sugarcube” from I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One

5. “Beach Party Tonight” from Summer Sun

6. “Big Day Coming” from Painful

7. “Georgia vs. Yo La Tengo” from Summer Sun

8. “Speeding Motorcycle” from Fakebook

9. “We’re an American Band” from I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One

10. “The Way Some People Die” from Ride The Tiger

11. “Autumn Sweater” from I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One

12. “Tom Courtenay” from Electr-O-Pura

13. “From a Motel 6” from Painful

14. “Little Eyes” from Summer Sun

15. “Pass the Hatchet, I Think I’m Goodkind” from I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass

Synopsis originally posted at ivegotfiveyears.com, my blog.

This is the Story of Yo La Tengo.

In anticipation of their recently announced 12th (!!!) new album Popular Songs I present a playlist that encompasses what I feel are Yo La Tengo’s best songs. I avoided the cover songs, because opening that can of worms would probably expand the mix to twice its length. Maybe I’ll include their work on an upcoming cover song themed mix.

Yes. That’s a song from 2006’s I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass. It wasn’t their best album. Probably not even in the top three. But Yo La Tengo is a fantastically consistent band. A taken-for-granted staple of the independent music scene. With very little commercial success but a slightly rabid, very dedicated fan base they’ve managed to maintain a career two to three times longer than most similar acts.

The band name originates from a baseball story of the 1962 season. Center-fielder Richie Ashburn and Venezuelan shortstop Elio Chacon kept colliding midfield while chasing foul balls. Chacon didn’t understand what Ashburn was saying when he repeatedly yelled “I’ve got it, I’ve got it.” To compensate Ashburn decided to yell “Yo la tengo” or “I have it!” in Spanish. Chacon understood and backed off. Ashburn readied to catch the fly ball when left-fielder Frank Thomas ran him right over. After helping him up, he asked “What the heck is a Yellow Tango.”

So, silly baseball anecdotes aside, Yo La Tengo have established a rather expansive catalog of releases. Specializing in rambling guitar rock mixed with obscure acoustic covers and drony jam outs, they’ve maintained a sense of spontaneity to their music. The type of band that could wake up tomorrow and release an album completely unlike anything they’ve ever done.

Husband/wife duo Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley are the core  of the band. James McNew has been band’s third member and bassist since 1992. Since the band’s formation in 1984 they’ve experienced substantial critical but little commercial success. However their relentless touring ethic and willing to change and experiment with their sound has built a cult following that have helped carry them into the 21st century as a prominent and respected independent rock band.

My experience with Yo La Tengo began with a copy of 2003’s Summer Sun. It was mailed to me with a box of CDs my Uncle Will let me borrow for a few months. A lot of music from that gift shaped my taste. I played that album a lot not truly understanding how expansive the rest of their catalog was. But as I began downloading more music I acquired a lot of their back catalog. Albums like Painful and I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One became absolute landmarks of my college years.

Another interesting Yo La Tengo fact is their penchant for playing obscure cover songs live. They play live for the non-profit WFMU radio station in New Jersey every year to help raise money for the listener-supported programming. During these live shows they’ve played countless covers requested by donors. They released the live recordings on a great compilation album titled Yo La Tengo Is Murder The Classics in 2006. Also, their excellent Fakebook album contains covers from Cat Stevens, Daniel Johnston and John Cale among others. It’s their ability to give these cover songs whole new life that makes them an intriguing and exceptionally talented act.

They’re still rolling strong, playing a fan-decided setlist for this year’s Pitchfork Music Festival. My friend Rosser is attending, so hopefully he can provide me with a review of the show upon his return! I’ve yet to see them live but list them as one of those necessary shows to attend before they retire. At the rate they’re going, I don’t think they’ll be hanging up their instruments any time soon.


~ by sleepingis on June 29, 2009.

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