Yo La Tengo: Popular People?


“Sure, it crosses our minds, but it’s great that we have the opportunity to do what we want and live very well from it.” Yo La Tengo’s Ira Kaplan ruminates on the fact that despite years and years (they’ve been around since 1984) of critical cheers and adoration offered by a core of committed fans, they haven’t yet had a major impact on the general public. At the end of the day, there’s really not much to complain about, ”he continues,“ we’re all smart enough to look around and see that people who are generally successful aren’t necessarily more satisfied. of what they do that we do. are.”

It has become a recent recurring theme for Kaplan to highlight the New Jersey trio’s happy position to do pretty much what they love on record. As an example, he signals the release earlier this year of Fuck book (an ’80s cover album released under the pseudonym Condo Fucks) that “was born by just plugging in a fuzzbox before a party and going there. Rather, it gives the impression that he and his band mates (wife Georgia Hubley and James McNew) exist in a bubble of contented fantasy, sometimes stung into creative action by spirits of spontaneity. Surely they take some time to think about their next destination? “No, not really, or certainly a lot less than you think. Sometimes people seem to find a story in a new record that just doesn’t exist. You can take the Condo Fucks album and maybe suggest that there was a bit of planning there, but that’s not necessarily the case.

Kaplan draws attention to the idiosyncrasy of a supposed narrative by giving a history lesson on the early days of popular music and the political politics that frequently took place which suggests that most of the time things got out of hand. control of the artists in question. “I find it interesting to think of bands like The Beatles, The Kinks, The Rolling Stones, etc. When their music was first released in the United States, before rock n ‘roll was treated seriously as an art form, the track listings were often different. original versions. So in that sense our history here in the United States was different from what you experienced in Britain. The bands didn’t have much to do with it, it’s what people did with those songs that provided the story ”.

Yo La Tengo has just released their twelfth studio album, Popular music – Kaplan won’t say if the title is ironic – the critics’ praise ringing loudly in their ears again. At this point in his career, Kaplan, himself a former rock writer himself, may wonder if the music journalism industry has any lasting relevance. “The whole star rating era that we seem to have now… I don’t think this is shape at its peak. It’s not just music journalism, it’s artistic coverage in general. I went to see a movie yesterday. I didn’t particularly like it, but it was still an interesting movie to watch. “Is it good or bad” is not the most vital function that the serious critic can provide to his readership. Unfortunately, that is not the majority opinion these days.

Based on the evidence of Popular songs, it seems silly to suggest that Yo La Tengo should call him someday soon, though Kaplan admits that the request comes up more and more frequently. “The question of our stop always takes me by surprise. It really didn’t occur to me that we could do that. I keep thinking that if we got bored we would stop doing it. Maybe it’s naive, maybe we couldn’t resist the fact that people are willing to pay us to do things, even if we don’t take advantage of it.

That’s not to say Kaplan hasn’t given serious thought to other career paths. “Well, recently we were in Italy and there was this gelato [ice cream] place we couldn’t stop going. At first we thought we should really try different ones every day, but this was clearly our favorite so we went there all the time. Then, and I don’t remember the exact Italian phrase, but I noticed that they belonged to some sort of “Council of Craft Ice Cream Makers” and thought “Hey, I could work for this company! “


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