Yo La Tengo, “I Heard You Looking”

Adam Duritz once sang the line: “Gonna get back to basics / Guess I’ll start it up again…” And honestly, it’s all I can think about just now. I’m back, and the site will continue on, and my grasp will refrain from attempting to exceed my reach. I’ve missed you. I wish I could offer you a perfect reason for neglecting this site, but, hey, who are we to fool one another? Life with a dissertation, and a family, and friends, and Sartre is hard. Having said as much, I find that certain songs just push their way forward until it becomes impossible not to write. So, for better or worse, you can thank Yo La Tengo for my deciding to poke my head in…

You see, sometime in December I finally gave in and bought myself a Yo La Tengo album. Last.fm, and about a bazillion of my friends (1), had been recommending this band to me for ages. Charles put “Little Eyes” on my mix, and I really loved it. But for some reason, the little band with the odd name just kept on passing me by. Yet, hungry for something new, and needing to kill some time in Newbury Comics while a friend went ring shopping, I finally gave in. I bought the “Prisoners of Love” compilation, figuring that compilations are a pretty good way of catching up on things. Since then, I have listened to “Tom Courtenay” and “I Heard You Looking” pretty much every day. They’re that good. I mean, sure, I listen to the whole albums, too… but some songs just burn their way into your mind, you know? (2)

Which, of course, makes me feel just a little bit silly. It’s fair to say that I couldn’t have arrived at the Yo La Tengo party any later. In fact, pretty much everyone has already gone on to the next party, but that’s just the way my life goes. Even so, I’m so desperately glad that this little song has fallen into my lap. It’s such a sweeping instrumental track, and, honestly, if I ever were to have a guitar rock band – well, I’d probably make every song sound like this one. It would be the sort of mimicry not seen since the time of Silverchair (3). The instrumental reminds me of a film that’s so good that there’s consolation in the length of the credits as they allow you to bask a bit longer. It reminds me of coming home and recounting a long journey.

And it reminds me of all my misspent youth. Of driving aimlessly and of being able to keep my life vague… of the limitless potential of slackerdom, and the expansive freedom you find at a time in your life when all roads lead – somewhere – and that’s just good enough. There’s a sadness to the track, but it seems to yield to a determination to press forward. The return to the initial melody near the end seems to confirm the unbrokenness of things, and to remind us that potential is always the same. It’s about the journey, and the willingness to consider the changeability of things – even the senses.

And so, it seems, I have always loved Yo La Tengo. I may have zero cred for showing up so late, but I feel this one in my soul. And that’s good enough. Have a listen, and let it wash over you. There’s more to come, but, for now, let’s just stick with this.

  1. Figure is to be considered accurate within +/- 1 Gajillion [Back]
  2. Incidentally, go ahead and compare the backup vocals of “Tom Courtenay” with the Dresden Dolls song “The Jeep Song,” and tell me they’re not the same. It’s weird in that “Sweater Song” – “I Bleed” kind of way… [Back]
  3. Apologies, dear Australians. We still love Colin Hay! [Back]

4 thoughts on “Yo La Tengo, “I Heard You Looking”

  1. That’s a tricky question, but I think I would stick with “Prisoners of Love,” as it’s a nice, 2-cd introduction to their work. Beyond that, a friend recommends “Painful.” If you do try one, let me know what you think! 🙂

  2. I found your site googling “why is I heard you looking so good”. Glad that you finally found YLT!. I couldn’t agree more with what you said: “I have listened to “Tom Courtenay” and “I Heard You Looking” pretty much every day. They’re that good.” – It’s never too late to join the YLT party!!! yes, there is something about these 2 songs (and others of theirs as well, but particularly these 2) that just goes straight to my amygdala and takes hold, sometimes certain songs like these, even without words, can speak emotionally.

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