July 24, 2002

Hi everybody. We just got back from doing the final scheduled performance of The Sounds Of Science at the Sonar festival in sunny Barcelona. Thanks to everyone who helped, and came to see it, and the many vastly gifted chefs and cortado-brewers of that beautiful city. And thanks to British Airways for not losing any of our bags, and for showing Ocean’s Eleven and two episodes of “SpongeBob SquarePants.”

The documentary about Georgia’s parents, Independent Spirits: The Faith and John Hubley Story, aired on PBS July 4th in NYC. Visit www.pbs.org/itvs/independentspirits for more information and future airdates.

We are happy to announce that we are finally credit-card ready. Sheesh. Thank you for your patience and support on this matter.

How many summer blockbusters will James see this year? Has he already seen Undercover Brother? Did he camp out overnight for Scooby Doo tickets? Is he gearing up for that movie with the word "perdition" in the title? Psyched about Busta Rhymes vs. Michael Meyers? Could be! Keep track of what you think he’ll see, and then in August we’ll see who can guess correctly What James Saw. We’ll give away something nice to the winner. Saving Silverman one-sheet, anyone?

Everybody Loves Gregory: according to a reliable source, And Then Nothing… artist Gregory Crewdson was name-checked on a recent episode of HBO’s “Six Feet Under.” According to a not-very reliable source, one of those “Sex And The City” ladies wore an NNB t-shirt last week.

Have you found yourself with an odd craving for Starbucks Frappucino or Double Shot in the last week or two? Perhaps it has something to do with their latest tv ad campaign featuring all-new pieces of instrumental music written and performed by us. Watch this space for mp3’s of the music as part of our forthcoming feature: Yo La Tengo Sells Out.

Do you want to know a secret? Do you promise not to tell?

In the last couple of years, we’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with some amazing people: Terry Adams, Neil Innes, Jad Fair, Ray Davies, Roy Campbell, Jr., Susie Ibarra, the list goes on and on. When we got ready to record The Sounds of the Sounds of Silence, the three of us made individual wish lists of who we’d be most excited to work with, and one name and one name only appeared on all three. It seemed awfully far-fetched but it never hurts to ask. Amazingly our dream participant was available and willing. The only catch was we weren’t allowed to use his name on the record.

When we read the latest Mojo, one record review in particular inspired a last stab at getting permission to tell everybody about our guest musician. The answer was still no, but as consolation we were offered the opportunity to post his reminiscences of the sessions.

Amazing. Started off like The Beatles – harmonicas on it, a bit Revolver-ish, quite fast. We hit a brick wall, with loads of drums on it, bass and guitars and that stuff. And – I have to take credit for this – I said, ‘Give me 10 minutes,’ and Ira said ‘I don’t want it to be acoustic. It’ll be fuckin’ shite.’ Everyone went to the chippy, and came back and I was, ‘See? Now it’s "Norwegian Wood."’

Weller used our studio to do his new album, I was up there doin’ summat, and he left early. I had a song I’d written on holiday somewhere. It reminded me of ‘Rain.’ It started off acoustic and went more like Revolver, then we were looking for a guitar solo for months, everything I played was fuckin’ rubbish. Ira had a go, Georgia had a go, James had a go. Rubbish. So who do you call? Johnny Marr. He said, ‘Get us a black Les Paul, a fuckin’ Fender whatever amp it is, and a fuzz pedal,’ and just stood there and played this solo, beamed in from the planet rock. We don’t play it live, ‘cos it’s fuckin’ really difficult.

It’s a toss-up between this and ‘Hyas and Stenorhynchus’ for the third single. Me and Georgia were doing ‘Rock & Roll Santa’ up at our studio for the Just Shoot Me Christmas Special. We finished early as we usually do and I said, ‘I’ve got this tune.’ I was playing the same chords for four minutes, and everyone was looking at each other going (mimes incomprehension). I said, ‘Just give me 5 minutes.’ I’d done the demo, I sang it once, put the harmonies on; our keyboard player put three solos on – Mellotron, Hammond, pump organ – all three were shockingly bad, but when we put them together it sounded perfect. As we lived with it, we thought, ‘That’s the song.’ I wrote it on a Sunday morning, I was living in a hotel, it defined what I was feeling at the time.

A fantastic song. James had three bits of music which he was trying to make into songs. I remember being in a dressing room in America somewhere, me and Ira standing over him, saying, ‘Why don’t you put all three together?’ – ‘Are you allowed to do that?’ – ‘Oh yeah, it’s in the manual.’ We recorded it on a little ghetto blaster and he went, ‘Fuckin’ ‘ell that’s brilliant.’ That song’ll stand up in years to come. Saying that, he’s setting himself really high standards for the next album. Now he’ll find out what the press are like – I say to him, ‘Try writing "Live Forever" when you’re 24.’ You really shouldn’t be doing that until your 30s. He doesn’t understand what that means, but he will next time he comes to write a record.

Started out as a plaintive acoustic number. Then we decided we hadn’t used a proper string section for a while. It’s about redemption. It was the last song written for the album. Will it be Number 1 for a long time? It’ll be Number 1 for a week and sell three million copies in an afternoon and then none the next week, as usual.

A riff from the Be Here Now tour. I bought an electric sitar in San Francisco and started playing that riff. We were doing one of Georgia’s songs and I started playing the riff. Georgia went, ‘That’s fuckin’ mega.’ For a long time it was an instrumental, then I sang some stream of consciousness words, and everyone was, ‘Aww, man, it should be the first single.’ I said ‘I’m gonna change the lyrics’ and Georgia said, ‘You should make it the most Yo La Tengo-sounding song you’ve ever written.’ Then I knew – it’s gonna be the fuckin’ most optimistic song. It was gonna be a single in October but it was too dirgey. To justify coming back after a two-year lay off, it had to be the fuckin’ bollocks.

James’ ‘I Don’t Want To be A Soldier.’ It’s the blues, innit? I don’t like talking about his songs ‘cos he’ll be ‘It’s fuckin’ not about that at all you cunt!’ I’ve no idea what it’s about but when I heard it, I thought, that’s a Yo La Tengo song. He didn’t expect it to get on the album, he thought it would be a B-side. Great, but it’s better live than on the record.

Ira’s. ‘I swing through trees/ with Tarzan on harmonies for free.’ Fuckin’ amazin’ lyrics. Liam got inspired by it immediately, which is always a sign that it’s good. Great to play live.