Happy together

Let’s start with some old business.  My apologies to Becky and Dave.  Due to what the New York Times’ correction page might call an editing error, I neglected to note that they . . . had the YLT version of “My Little Corner of the World” as the first dance at our wedding.  We were married on October 20, 2001 in Sterling Heights, MI.  We live (and lived at that time too) in Carlisle, PA.  Our wedding was not long after 9/11.  Many of our friends and family decided to drive (long distances) to our wedding.  It was a wonderful celebration during an otherwise depressing fall.

On to current events.  Ron writes us a long email, with lots of memories, culminating in his wedding day three years ago today.  My wife was first introduced to the band by me, and I cautiously sized up her reaction (being a musician myself, and a gigantic music nerd, I’m not ashamed to admit if she didn’t “get it,” the impending marriage was off! (my version of “the test” from the great movie, Diner).  Thankfully, she loved it from the start, in particular “Nowhere Near,” which became our song, ringtones and all.  We had a small, intimate and beautiful fall wedding in Vermont, my only disappointment being that YLT was not my wedding band, which I seriously considered trying to make happen, until my musician friends convinced me that would never happen!  (I’m still convinced “never” is too strong a word).  So my disappointment left tucked into my back pocket, we walked down the aisle to the sounds of my former bandmates serenading us with their arrangement of Nick Cave’s “Into My Arms.”  When the time came for our first dance, what other choice did we have to come full circle than “Nowhere Near”!  The way I saw it, hearing YLT as I began my life journey with my true love was the best omen for a lifetime of joy and happiness.  Now when I’m away from my wife and I listen to YLT, I see her lovely face before me, and  ” . . . If I’m ever that lucky, I won’t have to be so sad.”

And I’ve even got an anecdote of my own: In 2009, we play our second favorite Showbox venue in Seattle, the Sodo, with Jackie-O Motherfucker.  No question what the highlight of the night is: The encore, when Howard Kaylan joins us for a trio of Turtles classics.



Let’s go to bed

Fourteen years ago today, we are in Brisbane, performing at the Livid Festival.  Lou Reed is headlining our stage, and I get to watch from an ideal vantage point: directly behind the guy scrolling his Teleprompter.  (Will you believe me if I claim that the final words on it are GOOD NIGHT?)   Afterwards, Mark Luecke and I head to the main stage for The Cure, then despite a 4 a.m. lobby call for our flight to Japan, we decide to check out the aftershow doings.  I get back to my hotel room, shower, and put on the tv, figuring it’s too late for sleep.  Mark apparently feels differently, or so we surmise when an hour or so later all of us except him are downstairs, ready to go.  We call his room but the phone doesn’t wake him up; neither does pounding on the door.  It’s not easy, but we finally convince the hotel to unlock his door so we can wake him.  If only all festivals were that entertaining.



One night of peace & music

Seven years ago today, we make our first and to date only visit to Woodstock, for two Freewheeling Yo La Tengo shows.  Speaking of first and only, if I’m not mistaken, the other act on the bill, Bishops at Large–Jesper Eklow, Mike Fellows and Harry Druzd–were making their debut and farewell appearances that night.  Can’t recall all our patter, but none of our musical moments referenced the festival (unless I’ve been misinformed and Herman’s Hermits were part of Friday’s lineup).  Nevertheless there is no shortage of local color, with songs by Bob Dylan, Todd Rundgren and NRBQ dotting our sets.


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Ring my Beltran

Eight years ago today, Carlos Beltran takes strike three with the bases loaded, the Mets lose, and the Cardinals go on to the World Series.  I am in the office at the Fillmore, staring at the tv in disbelief, while the Chairs of Perception (the once and future Urinals) play their set.  Later that night, both bands perform “Surfin’ with the Shah” during our first encore, and then once again during our second.  (The only upside to the Mets’ loss is that in a rash moment I have promised to paint some part of my body orange and blue should the Mets win.)  And Jen knows the score, so to speak: Back in 2006, I was just beginning to date a wonderful man with one quirk: he came from a family of Mets fans.  (I didn’t yet know what that meant.)  I’d been looking forward to the YLT show at the Fillmore on Oct. 19 for months. But now I was dating this guy and the Mets were in the playoffs and they were playing an elimination game that very night.  I spent the early evening watching the Mets game with him at a bar downtown.  But as the game wore on, I became torn.  How long will this game last?  I can’t be late for the show.  But do I leave him now in this moment of tension?  Then it struck me: Odds were good you guys were watching the game too.  And I wagered that night’s show wouldn’t start until the game was over.  I stayed to the end.  Carlos Beltran did what Carlos Beltran did.  Devastation set in.  I told my new love, “Come to the show anyway.  The band will be sad too.”  We hailed a cab and flew to the Fillmore.  The sadness didn’t lift.  At some point, Ira took a moment between songs to let the crowd know the band weren’t quite themselves.  Their beloved Mets had been defeated–stunningly so.  Surrounded by silence, my date shouted out, “Ya gotta believe!”  (I didn’t yet know what that meant either.)  Ira responded: “You know, we do believe.  And that’s what makes it hurt so much.”  Without missing a beat, the band launched into a loud, raucous, cathartic version of  . . . something.  And the sadness started to lift.

I’ve got one more 10/19 story.  In 1995, we play at Moe in Seattle with Run On.  We’re unimpressed by the club’s hospitality and presumably no one at the club is signing up for our fan club either.  I don’t think any of this adversely affects our set–we have a good time playing, and bring Rick Brown up to sing “Neutron Bomb” at the conclusion of the encore, around 1:15 a.m.  The second we leave the stage, someone from the venue asks me if we’re done, to which I reply we don’t know until we gauge the audience response.  Instantly he turns the house lights on, which is basically the same as a matador brandishing a red flag at a bull.  Our decision made for us, we run back on stage before people start leaving, and play the local favorite “Cast a Shadow” (for the moment continuing to keep our issues with the venue backstage) and “Bad Politics.”  Then I thank everyone for coming and announce that we have one more song, that this next number will definitely be the last one, and we start “Speeding Motorcycle.”  I’m guessing by now it’s 1:25.  As usual, James is on bass, I’m playing acoustic guitar, and Georgia is on the Ace Tone.  At the conclusion of the lyrics, I play a solo, which goes on and on and on.  And on.  We never raise our volume and my playing is never atonal (well, not intentionally), but our message is quiet and clear.  The house lights come on.  We continue playing.  Someone from the club goes to our soundman, Mick Learn, and tells him he has to get us to stop.  He replies that his job is to make us louder not quieter.  We keep playing until the club cuts the power on stage, and the night is over.  Actually, it’s not, but this story is.



Long way to go

An all-too-brief sentence about our all-too-brief visit to Seoul in 2006, culminating in a performance at the Grand Mint festival on this day.  At least we also scheduled two shows in Taipei on that trip; last year we flew to Melbourne, played (albeit two sets), turned around and came home.  A short post today–I’ll conclude with another thousand words:



I’m with the banned

After Dave Schramm quit the band at the end of August, 1986, we did one show as a trio and a wedding with Christmas’s Michael Cudahy on guitar.  At a benefit at Maxwell’s in late September, we invited our original bassist Dave Rick to take a night off from his group, Phantom Tollbooth, and play lead guitar.  All parties had a good time, so we set up an encore on this date 28 years ago at CBGB, putting together a bill with Dredd Foole & the Din and Mofungo.  When CBGB added one or two more acts to the lineup, there was grumbling and even the suggestion of bailing on the date altogether, and in turn CBGB promised that any band that cancelled would never play the club again.  So we were in quite the pickle when the phone rang at 6 a.m. on the day of the show and it was our bassist, Stephan, calling us from Europe to tell us that he had missed his flight back to New York.  Obviously we had to play, but how?  Dave had done many shows with us on bass and could’ve done so once more, I suppose, but he was unavailable before soundcheck, and I doubt I was nimble enough on short notice to handle all the guitar playing.  Then the light bulb went off: Not only were we friends with an excellent bassist, but there was a strong possibility that he’d be awake at 7 a.m.  And sure enough, Chris Stamey was willing to step in.  Of course, he too was not free to rehearse.  Locked into the 11 songs we’d practiced earlier in the week with Dave, my lasting image of the night is Chris walking around CBGB with a bass and headphones, studying until the moment we went on.  I doubt we were great, but having managed not to be banned, we continued to perform at CBGB most every year through 1993.

Our opening song that night opens another event, 23 years later.   Ailene writes: My husband Matt and I danced to “Did I Tell You” as the 1st dance at our wedding 10/17/2009.  We live in Hoboken, NJ.