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Well, I guess it's for a good cause...
March 2, 2008 6:36 AM   Subscribe

Yo La Tengo is Murdering the Classics... again! For the 12th straight year, this legendary group of music nerds from Hoboken, NJ encamps to the studios of local free form radio station WFMU to play, on the spot, three full hours of listener-requested covers. The request show, part of the station's annual pledge drive, happens tonight (Sunday, March 2) from 5-8 pm EST, and thanks to the wonder that is the internet you can listen (128k MP3 stream) and pledge live from anywhere in the world (or catch the real broadcast in FM at 91.1 in NYC / New Jersey and 90.1 in the Hudson Valley, Catskills, Western NJ and Eastern Penn).

What will you be missing if you don't tune in? Apart from show-standards like the Velvet Underground, Rolling Stones and Beatles, last year's broadcast saw the band mount covers of everything from The Pastels and ? and the Mysterians to Grandmaster Flash, ZZ Top and Styx, nearly 40 in all. As an added bonus, in recent years the shows have typically ended with extended, catch-all medleys aimed at covering in one go any pledged requests the band hasn't gotten to --- in 2004 the medley's foundation was Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire", last year it was Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart."

(previously 1 2 3)

I'd be remiss if I didn't also mention that WFMU is celebrating its own 50th year of operation. Some of the station's unique programming has been featured here on the blue before, and its Beware of the Blog has also provided frequent fpp fodder.

Finally, if you need some Yo La Tengo to see you through until 5 pm, here's a selection from the band's covers repertoire:
Velvet Underground - "She's My Best Friend"
Dion and the Belmonts - "Teenager in Love" / Buddy Holly - "Everyday"
Beat Happening - "Cast a Shadow"
Sandy Denny - "By the Time It Gets Dark"
Looney Tunes Theme Song (with story)
Simpsons Theme Song
Rolling Stones - "Let's Spend the Night Together"
Love - "A Message To Pretty"
Cat Stevens - "Here Comes My Baby"
Johnny Cash - "I Still Miss Someone"
Angry Samoans - "The Right Side of My Mind"
T. Rex - "20th Century Boy"
The Beatles - "One After 909"
Norman Blagman - "Love Power" (The Producers)
Brook Benton / Clyde McPhatter - "A Lover's Question"
Velvet Underground - "Femme Fatale" (w/ Alex Chilton)
Skeeter Davis - "Let Me Get Close to You (w/ Alex Chilton)
The Urinals - "Surfin' with the Shah" (w/ Chairs of Perception)
posted by kowalski (46 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite

 
Never will I pass up an opportunity to express my love for The Best Show on WFMU with Tom Scharpling and Jon Wurster (Tom, Jon). This year's Best Show Pledge Marathon sounds pretty sweet: Ted Leo, Ben Gibbard and Patton Oswalt will be hanging out.

Lord, I love that show.
posted by 2or3whiskeysodas at 7:16 AM on March 2, 2008


I second what 2or3whiskeysodas just said. If I had more money, I'd pledge again! (and during the Yo La Tengo fun, too)
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 7:25 AM on March 2, 2008


Oh, and to YoungAmerican if you're reading this: congratulations on your recent award win! ;)

/derail

posted by 2or3whiskeysodas at 7:28 AM on March 2, 2008


Also, it's worth mentioning here (if unfamiliar with WFMU, though the info is sure to be found in the FPP links) that the reason they do these stunts every year is because WFMU is nearly 100% listener supported (there have been a few grants, I think) - no underwriting, no sponsorship, no corporate anything. They make all the money that keeps them operational (and totally awesome) through these pledge drives (for only these 2 weeks each year) and the record fair. And the DJ's are all volunteers. ...and the music is awesome, and all archived online, and free.

/proselytizing
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 7:35 AM on March 2, 2008


I'd like to hear them cover Shooby Taylor in a WFMU crossover.

If nothing else, WFMU has exposed way more people than would have otherwise heard them to Shooby, Jandek, Legendary Stardust Cowboy, The Shaggs, etc. via Irwin Chusid's Songs in the Key of Z.
posted by DecemberBoy at 7:58 AM on March 2, 2008


Cool. Thanks for this.

I have recently been mainly listening to Yo La Tengo's kick-ass cover of I Wanna Be Your Lover from the I'm Not There OST, which they play sounding exactly like the Rolling Stones c. 1967.
posted by tiny crocodile at 8:23 AM on March 2, 2008


Yo La Tengo represents everything that's wrong with so-called youth culture today. By "gentrifying" the songs of gritty originals like Johnny Cash and the Velvet Underground with their art-school Obama-supporting lo-fi mash-up YouTube Twittering Web 2.0 Scrabulistic vegan Nick-Drake-reviving Neil-Young-worshipping Teany-swilling Gawkeriffic Pilates-pushing iPhone-obsessed earbud-wearing greenmarket-grazing aesthetic, they make it seem like any Bushwick-dwelling pseudohipster can just sing any song they want. Well, I never.
posted by digaman at 9:22 AM on March 2, 2008 [9 favorites]


I got to say, Yo La Tengo makes a much more interesting cover band. I've never been too moved by their songwriting. They were the band for my friends' wedding and played all the cheesy typical wedding songs one hears at wedding receptions. It was fantastic.
posted by bloodniece at 9:24 AM on March 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Well, I never.

Never heard Georgia sing lead on Big Balls, obviously.
posted by carsonb at 9:54 AM on March 2, 2008


digaman: you seem to be conflating a disdain for populism with an accusation of elitism. Would you dislike them less if they developed their own elitist gentrified works? Would you feel better if appropriately-marginal people acted as if they could just sing any song they want?
posted by honest knave at 9:54 AM on March 2, 2008


Knave: I was being ironic.
posted by digaman at 10:10 AM on March 2, 2008


Great post
posted by KokuRyu at 10:54 AM on March 2, 2008


For the classics:
.

For YLT:
A+++ would buy again
posted by kuujjuarapik at 11:31 AM on March 2, 2008


The only grant that I know of received by FMU was a grant from New York State to promote music (the result of which is a series of free, free, free! concerts around NYC). It doesn't go toward programming or the station's day-to-day operations.

To quote Mike Lupica, from the station's blog:

The Free Music Series was made possible through a grant from the New York State Music Fund. The fund's goal is to help creatively-minded artists who are not afforded the same opportunities for exposure that bands with the backing of commercial radio and major record labels are. In fact, it's some of those same major labels who were found to be engaging in payola to drum up airplay for their various flavor-of-the-moment acts. The subsequent fines paid by said labels were collected by the NYSMF, and have been deployed to non-profit arts organizations like WFMU to promote the kind of independent musicians that we feel a special artistic kinship with.

FMU does only one on-air fundraiser a year (it ends March 9); the other primary fundraiser is the annual Record Fair in the fall.

If you've ever listened, you owe them a few of your dollars. C'mon, ten bucks! You can spare it.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 11:45 AM on March 2, 2008


The only thing that could make the Best Show better is a timestamped index of bits. That, and the end of Philly Boy Roy.

I had no idea YLT played weddings. Now I know who is going to be forced to play the Electropura album repeatedly during my hypothetical wedding. And honeymoon. While being made at knife point to watch my carnal relations.
posted by bunnytricks at 12:14 PM on March 2, 2008


Holy cats! Yo La Tengo just officially moved from a band that I liked well enough to a band that I absolutely love.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:07 PM on March 2, 2008


I had no idea YLT played weddings.
Likewise. That's so utterly cool that I may have to get married now.
posted by Zonker at 2:04 PM on March 2, 2008


Apparently I can't count. It's their THIRTEENTH year doing this!
posted by kowalski at 2:08 PM on March 2, 2008


The only thing that could make the Best Show better is a timestamped index of bits. That, and the end of Philly Boy Roy

Wait, whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 2:15 PM on March 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


Listening right now. This is hilarious. Love the back-up vocals on Badlands.
Wo-ahhh? Deeee whoooa? Wooooahhh?
posted by otolith at 2:19 PM on March 2, 2008


01. Roky Erickson - Starry Eyes
02. Bruce Springsteen - Badlands
03. Velvet Underground - She's My Best Friend
04. Velvet Underground - Run Run Run

They're sounding particularly fantastic this year...
posted by kowalski at 2:25 PM on March 2, 2008


> Never heard Georgia sing lead on Big Balls

You won't tonight. One announcer said that Georgia's ill.
posted by ardgedee at 2:29 PM on March 2, 2008


Huh. I can't connect.

I've never had that happen before.
posted by roll truck roll at 2:31 PM on March 2, 2008


> Huh. I can't connect.

A friend just IMed me to say the 128 stream's full and you have to fight for a connection. The lower bit-rate channels are still open.
posted by ardgedee at 2:36 PM on March 2, 2008


@computech_apolloniajames
And they need your money more this year... The station manager (Ken) talked about in the annual radio address how they are actually going to continue with smaller pledge drives as they are in debt, and need more money than usual for multiple reasons (they are building a new antenna, the royalties have gone up, etc...).
posted by ooklala at 2:47 PM on March 2, 2008


"...group of music nerds from Hoboken, NJ encamps to the studios..." The correct verb is "decamps". Sorry to be a pill at the Camptown Races.
posted by yazi at 3:48 PM on March 2, 2008


Since I don't live within the FM broadcast radius, I won't pledge during the Yo La Tengo marathon segment -- 'cause the band won't allow their music to be archived for station listeners who cannot listen during their segment. I know they have their agenda, but so do I. Fuck 'em! I'm a member of WFMU, but FUCK YO LA TENGO.
posted by sighmoan at 3:58 PM on March 2, 2008


sighmoan typed "Since I don't live within the FM broadcast radius, I won't pledge during the Yo La Tengo marathon segment -- 'cause the band won't allow their music to be archived for station listeners who cannot listen during their segment."

I agree, but things sometimes get complicated by record labels, etc. There are a number of holes in the WFMU archive as well as the archives of NPR music shows, thanks to weird contractual stipulations.

I'm loving this, by the way, but I do feel out-music-nerded: there have been far more songs I haven't recognized than in past years.
posted by roll truck roll at 4:11 PM on March 2, 2008


Definitely out-nerded. There have been about a half dozen songs that I have to go back to and figure out afterwards.

As for the various constructions of camping, I'm fairly sure that my usage is as valid as decamped would be (I have no idea what they were doing before they showed up at WFMU, but I know where they've been for the past two and a half hours, and it's pretty awesome).
posted by kowalski at 4:22 PM on March 2, 2008


Yo La Tengo represents everything that's wrong with so-called youth culture today.
Um, hey um, digaman? You do realize that this band has been around since the time of MOTHERFUCKING CASSETTE WALKMAN PLAYERS, right?
posted by DenOfSizer at 4:38 PM on March 2, 2008


The only thing that could make the Best Show better is a timestamped index of bits.

I have a 2 GB collection of every single "bit" ever done on the Best Show (including classic non-Wurster bits from Matt Walsh, Jon Benjamin and Andy Earles), broken out as standalone mp3 files. 120 hours of Mirth and Mayhem. Making that collection was hard work, son!

I was originally planning on creating a weekly podcast feed of these "bits" to run alongside the normal TBSOWFMU podcast feed (disclosure: I'm the guy who started and edits Tom Scharpling's podcast), but the guy who runs The Best Show Vault kinda beat me to it during the period of time when Tom was still trying to decide on whether a "bits" podcast feed would be a good idea. At one time, he quite seriously threatened to pull the podcast, and even the show itself, if he found that someone created such a site.

But Tom's had a change of heart since then, and The Best Show Vault has really come into its own recently. Check it out!
posted by melorama at 4:50 PM on March 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm disappointed at some of the requests this year. They played "Love with Tear Us Apart" on last year's request-a-thon, and "Search and Destroy" was from two years back, if I'm not mistaken.

But they more than made up for that by playing "Jessie's Girl".
posted by melorama at 4:54 PM on March 2, 2008


FM Me?

FMU!
posted by geekyguy at 4:59 PM on March 2, 2008


I have a 2 GB collection of every single "bit" ever done on the Best Show (including classic non-Wurster bits from Matt Walsh, Jon Benjamin and Andy Earles), broken out as standalone mp3 files. 120 hours of Mirth and Mayhem. Making that collection was hard work, son!

Share the wealth! If somehow an anonymous torrent of this was to find its way onto a quiet little tracker I would seed it until Tom comes after me with a cease-and-desist welded to the end of a chain.
posted by bunnytricks at 5:19 PM on March 2, 2008


Sighman, no need to be so critical of Yo La. Did they kick your dog or something? There is a CD called "Yo La Tengo Murdering the Classics," if you wanted to hear highlights of the band after the fact. I don't think it's unreasonable for them to make a little money off this endeavor; they've been playing at the Marathon for 13 years. For me though, the highlight of the segment is the announcing of Gaylord, who's one of my favorite DJ's on FMU. Yo La's cool and all that, but I prefer their older, funnier stuff.

And just to be totally nitpicky, contributing to FMU does not make you a member. That's NPR lingo. You're a supporter. An appreciated one, too! Take it from someone who enters on the computer hundreds of pledges for the station every year.

It's only my opinion (yeah, duh!), but the only thing that could make the so-called Best Show better is if it went off the air.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 5:25 PM on March 2, 2008


It's only my opinion (yeah, duh!), but the only thing that could make the so-called Best Show better is if it went off the air.

It makes sense that you feel this way, since you apparently don't understand or appreciate well crafted ironic humor.
posted by melorama at 6:32 PM on March 2, 2008


You apparently don't understand what people are replying to.
posted by roll truck roll at 6:39 PM on March 2, 2008


And also, it would really sucj for WFMU if they pulled a show off the air that manages to raise $40,000 in 3 hours, like Tom Scharpling did last week.
posted by melorama at 6:39 PM on March 2, 2008


sucj=suck
posted by melorama at 6:39 PM on March 2, 2008


By the way, there is a "backdoor" to downloading the 128k mp3 archive of the YLT marathon show. MeFiMail me if you're interested.
posted by melorama at 7:18 PM on March 2, 2008


Preliminary semi-complete setlist from tonights show (from Ken Katkin, on the WFMU blog:

Roky Erickson - Starry Eyes
Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band - Badlands (dedicated to Glen Jones)
Velvet Underground - She's My Best Friend
Velvet Underground - Run Run Run

Ken from Cincinnati (me!) wins the Lee Hazlewood CD).

The Who - I Can't Explain
Brian Eno - Baby's On Fire
Feelies (?) - Slow Down (?)
Big Star - I'm In Love With A Girl
(?) "My Baby Put Me on the Critical List" (?)
Black Sabbath - Sweet Leaf

Cream - Tales of Brave Ulysses
Sugarloaf - Green Eyed Lady
The Cramps (?)
Lee Hazlewood & Nancy Sinatra - These Boots Are Made For Walking

Thin Lizzy - The Cowboy Song
Wild Angels/Bonnie St. Claire (?) - "Clap Your Hands, Stamp your feet, abba dabba dabba do" (?)
(?) "It'll be our world" (?)
Elvis Costello - What's So Funny About Peace Love & Understanding?

(?) "Bridget doesn't know she doesn't understand. Please don't shout Bridget because" (?)
Wire -Mannequin
Elvis Presley - Viva Las Vegas
The Undertones - Teenage Kicks

Feelies - Only Life
Iggy Pop - The Passenger
Troggs - With A Girl Like You
Ron Davis/Rodd Keith (?) - "Mystery Called Love" (?)
Kinks - See My Friends

Rick Springfield - Jesse's Girl
Bobby Darin/Johnny Cash (Tim Hardin) - If I Were A Carpenter
Rivieras/Ramones - California Sun
Joy Division - Love Will Tear Us Apart
Linda Rondstadt (Mike Nesmith) - Different Drum

Iggy Pop - Search and Destroy
Rolling Stones - Paint It Black
Jefferson Airplane - White Rabbit

The Big Bopper / Jerry Lee Lewis - Chantilly Lace Medley:
Fame Theme Song
Queen - Another One Bites The Dust
Starland Vocal Band - Afternoon Delight
"At last I'm free I can hardly see in front of me"
Frogs - Now You Know You're Black
"My litte girl, I bet you went out every night" (?)
Burt Bacharach / Carpenters - "What Do You get When You Fall in Love
Bob Dylan - I'll keep it with mine
Modern Lovers - A Plea For Tenderness
Poppa Pass The Biscuits
Bobby Gentry - Ode To Billy Joe
Richard Harris - Macarthur Park (Someone Left A Cake Out In The Rain)
Pretenders - Tattooed Love Boys
Banana Splits Theme Song
Earth Wind and Fire - Boogie Wonderland
"Ain't Got Nothing" (?)
Francis Scott Key - Star Spangled Banner
posted by melorama at 8:34 PM on March 2, 2008


Okay, it's time for y'all to quit fighting and help me work out a complete setlist. I've bolded the ones that are big mysteries to me, but if I've made a mistake anywhere else do speak up!

01. Roky Erickson - Starry Eyes
02. Bruce Springsteen - Badlands
03. Velvet Underground - She's My Best Friend
04. Velvet Underground - Run Run Run

05. The Who - I Can't Explain
06. Brian Eno - Baby's On Fire
07. ??? "Slow Down" song ???
08. Big Star - I'm In Love With A Girl
09. ??? "My baby put me on the critical list" song, but not Don Covay unless it was some weird lyrics mash ???
10. Black Sabbath - Sweet Leaf

11. Cream - Tales of Brave Ulysses
12. Sugarloaf - Green Eyed Lady
13. The Sonics - Shot Down
14. Nancy Sinatra - These Boots Are Made For Walkin'

15. Thin Lizzy - Cowboy Song
16. ??? "Clap Your Hands, Stamp Your Feet" / "Aba daba daba doo" song ???
17. ??? "It'll be / It'll be our world" song ???

18. Nick Lowe / Elvis Costello - (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding

19. Hypnolovewheel - Bridget Because
20. Chumbawumba - Mannequin
21. Elvis Presley - Viva Las Vegas
22. The Undertones - Teenage Kicks

23. The Feelies - It's Only Life
24. Iggy Pop - The Passenger
25. The Troggs - With A Girl Like You
26. Ron Davis - It's a Mystery Called Love
27. The Kinks - See My Friends

28. Rick Springfield - Jessie's Girl
29. Johnny Cash - If I Were A Carpenter
30. The Rivieras - California Sun
31. Joy Division - Love Will Tear Us Apart
32. Linda Ronstadt - Different Drum

33. Iggy & the Stooges - Search and Destroy
34. Rolling Stones - Paint It Black
35. Jefferson Airplane - White Rabbit
36. The Big Bopper - Chantilly Lace (Medley)

posted by kowalski at 8:36 PM on March 2, 2008


On posting: apparently i should be reading the wfmu blog and clicking preview more often.
posted by kowalski at 8:37 PM on March 2, 2008


And ah, yes, I guess song 20 was originally by Wire. None of that in my collection for some reason. That's okay, I got The Sonics to compensate!
posted by kowalski at 8:45 PM on March 2, 2008


More from the WFMU blog, from someone named jumba: Ken was right about Slow Down being a Feelies track, and Critical List appears to be by the Fleshtones.
posted by kowalski at 4:10 AM on March 3, 2008


In case anyone was still puzzling (or attempting to avoid embarrassing themselves like I did), Ken's got the full set list completed at BOTB, thanks to a little help from a certain Ira Kaplan.
posted by kowalski at 4:33 PM on March 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


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