March 13, 2003

Hey everybody,

I’m typing from the spacious dressing room at the Variety Playhouse in Atlanta, GA. A framed Jacob Lawrence poster is on the wall, and there are 3 coat hangers but no coats–it’s 70°. We’re making our way to the South by Southwest convention the long way, taking a whole bunch of our new songs to the people, at least the people in Chapel Hill, Athens, and tonight Atlanta. It’s been a while since we’ve toured, so naturally we’re taking things slowly at first: here it is our fourth day out and we’ve still yet to eat barbecue more than once in a day.

The Glands have played all three shows with us. They’re great. If I can be allowed some constructive criticism, however, I think it’s somewhat impolite to play an instrumental snippet from the Four Seasons’ "Oh What a Night" at soundcheck and then not do the whole song during your set. In Chapel Hill, Chris "Summer Sun" Stamey performed too, and when he opened with "Something Came Over Me," I got goosebumps.

We want to let you know or remind you that we’ll be on WFMU on Saturday night, helping out during their fundraising marathon. You can listen on and if you pledge money to the station, you get to make a request. And we’ll try to play it. Sure it’s humiliating, but it’s for a great cause. This year, due to our travel schedule back from Austin, we won’t be on at our normal time of 5-7 pm (now once again manned by "The Great" Gaylord Fields). Instead, we’ll hit at 9 pm, and carry on till midnight, with your host Tamar (Gaylord will co-host) (that’s the Eastern time zone). Hope you can tune in.

Georgia did her Disastodrome bit two weeks ago. This reporter thought it was amazing. George Wendt, Van Dyke Parks, and Georgia — I know, what took so long?

That’s about it. We’re going to see if we can’t provide these "news" reports every week. Summer Sun comes out on April 8.


January 18, 2003


Hi everybody. We’re proud to announce our new album, Summer Sun, is all done, and will be made available for release by the good people at Matador April 8. It’s got 13 songs on it, including a few we did live over Hanukkah, a cover of Big Star’s "Take Care," surprising cover artwork, and appearances by a few special guests you’ll be familiar with if you’ve seen us these last few years (hint: it’s not Ronnie Spector or Todd Barry).

And, as a special treat for those of you with computers, we have posted a sneak preview of Summer Sun. The song is called "Don’t Have to Be So Sad" (track 9 on the forthcoming cd, side 3 cut 3 on the vinyl). Hope you like it.

Dying to know James’ top 10 list of stuff from 2002? Of course you are. Check out the news section at, or le section nouveau a la

We will also be contributing a track ("Magnet") to a forthcoming tribute compilation, devoted to one of our favorite bands in the world, NRBQ. If you were awake early enough, you may have seen A&E’s recent special on them, featuring many of the other mega-celebrity acts from the tribute record. Why weren’t we on it? Fucking James Lipton. The album lineup also includes Los Lobos, R.E.M.’s Mike Mills, Bonnie Raitt, and (current Will Rigby vocalist) Steve Earle.

Also recently completed after 4 years of slothlike toil is A Grown-Ass Man, the new album by Dump. This product is on the Shrimper records hotlist for spring, right around the time the surging Knicks rocket triumphantly into the postseason.

Everybody watched "Man Versus Beast," right?


December 18, 2002

Hanukkah’s come and gone and we want to thank everyone who came to the shows and who played at the shows and who helped with the shows. Boy, are our arms tired. We’ll be posting a bunch of photos in the near future, but in the meantime, here’s what happened:

  • Fri. Nov. 29: benefiting Social Tees Animal Rescue and the Dolphin Project
    Janeane Garofalo, David Grubbs. David joined us for four songs during our set. Ronnie Spector sang "Here Today Gone Tomorrow" and "Baby I Love You" with us during the encore.
  • Sat. Nov. 30: benefiting Arts for Art
    Todd Barry, Other Dimensions in Music. (Daniel Carter was replaced for this night by Sabir Mateen). Sabir Mateen, Roy Campbell Jr., and William Parker sat in for most of our set. During the encore, Todd Barry played drums on "Like a Rolling Stone" and John Cameron Mitchell sang "Head Held High" and "Holly Holy."
  • Sun. Dec. 1: benefiting the Hoboken Shelter
    Fred Armisen, the Fleshtones. Peter Zaremba sang two songs with us during our set. Fred Armisen (as Ferecito) joined us during "Nuclear War." Ray Davies sang "Animal Farm," "This Is Where I Belong" and "Till the End of the Day" with us for the encore.
  • Mon. Dec 2: benefiting the Civil Rights Project at Harvard University
    Girl’s Guitar Club of Greater Los Angeles, Sun Ra Arkestra under the direction of Marshall Allen. Some of the Arkestra sang on "Nuclear War." The Girl’s Guitar Club sang "This Ain’t the Summer of Love" and "Walk Like an Egyptian" with us during the encore.
  • Tues. Dec. 3: benefiting Global Kids
    David Cross, Ladybug Transistor. David Byrne joined us for an encore of "Ready for This World" (a new song of his), "Tears Are in Your Eyes," Lambchop’s "The Man Who Loved Beer," Richard Hell’s "Love Comes in Spurts" and "Pulled Up."
  • Wed. Dec 4: benefiting Sanctuary for Families
    Sarah Silverman, Virginia Dare. Mary and Brad from Virginia Dare played "I Threw It All Away" with us.
  • Thurs. Dec. 5: benefiting WFMU, Anthology Film Archives, and Film Forum
    Karen Kilgariff, Sue Garner. Dave Schramm sat in with us during our set. We all played with Sue on Yoko Ono’s "We’re All Water." Sue and Ted Reichman joined us during the encore for Randy Newman’s "Political Science," then Rick Brown came up too and sang the Art Attacks’ "Neutron Bomb." Then WFMU’s Gaylord Fields and Brian Turner, and Peter Criss (or was it Todd Barry) helped us play "Calling Dr. Love" and "Strutter."
  • Fri. Dec. 6: benefiting the Highlands Coalition
    Sountrackapella, Portastatic. Georgia and Ira played on some Portastatic numbers. Mac played the whole show with us. Matthew McCaughan added bongos during the encore.

October 13, 2002

Hello from Nashville! We’re about halfway through recording our new album. Check out the photos of scenes from our action-packed sessions. We are once again aided by tall producer Roger Moutenot, and working at the Alex The Great. It’s nice to be back, actually. The weather has been nice, dear friends are taking good care of us, and it seems like all our favorite restaurants are still open.

Our Nuclear War EP will be released on November 19th, on the Matador label. You heard it here first, or possibly second.

We are very happy to announce that we will be playing all 8 nights of Hanukkah again this year, at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, NJ. Last year was the first time we did this, and it went so well we decided to do it again. The 2001 shows each featured a special opening act (Yung Wu, Lambchop, +/-, Antietam, Hypnolovewheel, Zusaan Kali Fasteau, Annie Hayden, Consonant), a special comedy act (David Greenberger, Todd Barry, Janeane Garofalo, David Cross, Jon Benjamin, Jon Glaser, The Upright Citizens Brigade, Penn Jillette w/ Gilbert Gottfried and Paul Provenza), and special guests sitting in with us during our sets (Terry Adams from NRBQ played our whole set with us opening night, Jon Spencer played guitar & sang with us for our whole set closing night; in between, Kurt Wagner sang "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You" and "Jeepster" by two of the many great Jewish songwriters we spotlighted, and Todd Barry rocked the house on drums, to name but a few). We calculate that we played close to 900 different songs over the course of those gigs. All the proceeds from each show went to a different charity, as did the money from the 2 special t-shirt designs (by Steven Hunking of Hypnolovewheel) we had made for the occasion.

This year we will be including a brand new 3-song Christmas CDEP in the ticket price. That’s right, Christmas. Where are the good Hanukkah songs? For crying out loud. Anyways, we’ll be at Maxwell’s from Friday, November 29-Saturday, December 6. Tickets are officially on sale as of now (stay tuned for the full schedule of charities, opening acts, comics, and special guests, to be updated as soon as we know, ourselves). Maxwell’s only holds about 200 people, so act fast. We hope to see you there. (Tickets are on sale at Other Music in NYC, Tunes in Hoboken, at Ticketmaster elsewhere, and if you’re from overseas, but planning on Hanukkahing in these parts, we recommend contacting Maxwell’s at

You people seriously overestimate the number of times James goes to the movies. He saw two movies this summer, "Men In Black 2" and "24 Hour Party People." Nobody guessed he only saw 2 movies, but only one person correctly included these two titles in their lists of way too many ("My Big Fat Greek Wedding"? Come on, people), and that lucky winner, Ms. Janice Headley of Seattle, will be contacted shortly, once travel arrangements are sorted out. That’s right, James will be coming to your house. Hope you have cable.

Back to work,

Over the years, there have been occasional questions about Ira’s pre-Yo La Tengo days as a journalist. With that in mind, we offer an example from 1985 of his writing:


To the Sports Editor:

Gary Savnyu not only finds nothing wrong with the designated hitter, but suggests that it would be in baseball’s best interests to adopt a system of separate offensive and defensive platoons (”Mailbox: Pros and Cons on Rule Changes,” The New York Times, March 31). The only flaw I can find with his plan is that it’s not carried to its logical conclusion. If baseball is to use football as a model, why not also incorporate free substitution?

I say, let the team at bat send up their most selective hitter, their keenest judge of the strike zone, any time they want. He’ll try to force the pitcher to fall behind on the count, at which point he’ll be quickly replaced by a power hitter particularly adept at handling the fastball called for in this situation. Should the slugger reach two strikes, he’ll return to the bench in favor of a contact specialist, who’ll settle for putting the ball in play. Designated runners will naturally take over whenever a hitter reaches base.

Needless to say, this will eliminate the necessity of a batting order. And just as some football coaches rely on a durable running back to carry the ball 30 times a game, so too will a shrewd manager be able to send his best hitters to the plate over and over again, resting them perhaps after an especially grueling sprint along the base paths.

Take it away, Commissioner Ueberroth!

Hoboken, N.J.

(April 7, 1985, Sunday, Late City Final Edition Section 5; Page 2, Column 1)

September 20, 2002

It’s fall and we’re happy.

We’ve just handed in all the parts for Nuclear War, a 12"/CDEP to be released on the Matador label in November. It will contain four versions of the song: one features Susie Ibarra, Daniel Carter, Sabir Mateen, Josh Madell, and Roy Campbell, Jr., and one is a mix by Mike Ladd. We’ll let the other two be a surprise.

Our dear friend Sue Garner has just released a fantastic new record, Shadyside, on the Thrill Jockey label. It features many beautiful songs, as well as contributions from Rick Brown, Marc Ribot, Jim O’Rourke, and James McNew. Sue and her new band (Mr. Brown, Ted Reichman, Doug Wieselman) will be hitting the road for a few select appearances – maybe even one near you!

Speaking of Thrill Jockey, David Bowie’s favorite label, they will be celebrating their 10th anniversary with the release of Looking For A Thrill, a DVD release, with about a zillion interviews with musicians telling stories about their formative musical experiences, including the three of us. But you really gotta watch out for that John McEntire one.

And speaking of dear friends, Chickfactor magazine has finally established its foothold on the web, and is poised for world takeover. Check out its web exclusives section for an interview with Georgia and her sister Emily, and a food diary James kept during the YLT tour of South America in 2001 (with photos). Better read that David Cross interview, while you’re at it, there’s some very pertinent info about us in there, too.

Here’s a link to an article Ira wrote this summer, for DIW (the magazine, not the Japanese jazz label). How about that salary cap agreement.

Here’s a link to a top-10 thingy James wrote, not knowing the formidable competition he was up against… oh well.

Answers are still coming in for the What James Saw competition. James is very busy, what with Fashion Week and all, but he’s tabulating the results and we’ll have ’em for you next time.

La Wanda Page RIP,

August 18, 2002

Hi everybody. The dog days of summer are in full dog here in the metropolitan area. We’ve been laying low, hard at work making up new songs, and figuring out when to record them (answer: soon!). Is that really all we have to report this time around? Almost!

We’ve already recorded one and a half songs for our forthcoming Christmas EP. And on Monday we’ll be entering a recording studio with a few special guests to record some material for a new CDEP/12" to be released this fall on Matador.

A Sean Quinn writes:

"Here is my guess about James’ summer viewing . . . My guess is that James will see exactly zero summer blockbusters this summer. Not a one. Instead, the good Mr. McNew will spend his time painting large scale watercolors of exotic insects. Any time away from this all-consuming passion will be spent ‘practicing his slider,’ if you know what I mean. Please tell me when I win."

James doesn’t know what you mean. James has, in fact, been to the movies this summer. The contest to guess which summer releases he has seen ends on Tuesday, so starting then, we’ll be accepting your guesses. (you see, Sean, much like the summer TV sensation "American Idol," only then will your entries be valid – the phone lines are not open yet) (and by the way, how could they vote off Tamyra before Nikki? you gotta be fucking kidding me) The first person who guesses correctly wins something. James hasn’t figured out what you win yet, he’s clearly a very busy man.

OK then. – YLT