Song of the Day: Yo La Tengo – Stockholm Syndrome

Jordan Posner recalls: “Stockholm Syndrome” isn’t a typical Yo La Tengo song. For one thing, it isn’t sung by either Ira Kaplan or Georgia Hubley, the usual vocalists. Rather, bassist James McNew handles the vocal duties this time around. The song also doesn’t really feature the wall of droning guitar that the band has featured for almost 30 years now. Aside from a brief guitar-freakout after the first chorus (This is Ira Kaplan, we’re talking about, after all. The guy never met a drone he didn’t like), the mostly acoustic, fairly simple song stays firmly planted on earth. Coming smack dab in the middle of the group’s masterpiece, 1997’s I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One, the song asks as a bit of a palate cleanser after the weirdo funk of “Moby Octopad” and the crunchy assault of “Sugarcube.” Yo La Tengo is one of those bands that can add a little something to almost any genre of music, and it’s really nice to hear this versatile trio tackle something a bit more conventional. Mind you, I don’t want a whole album of these acoustic ditties, but one or two per album can really add some spice.

This has always been my favorite song by Yo La Tengo, and I consider the fact that they played it when I saw them live in 2004 a personal favor to me. I had come all the way from Central Ohio to Northern Kentucky (Southgate House represent!) to see them, only really knowing the songs from one album. When a band has such a wide catalog to draw from, and the concert-goer is only familiar with a handful of songs, it can be kind of a stressful situation. I constantly lament not being more familiar with a group before I see them. I could have been having so much more fun!

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Luckily, the world’s best noise-rock-trio from Hoboken, NJ came through for me by playing this song very early on in their set. It was enough to keep me smiling until they covered a Kinks song for their encore. For the life of me, I cannot remember which one.

That was also the show where I was picked as an audience participant by opening comedian and friend of the band Fred Armisen. He humiliated me in a funny way.

It was a pretty great night.

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One comment to “Song of the Day: Yo La Tengo – Stockholm Syndrome”
  1. Love this song, love this band. When they’re not crunching and droning they’re jingle-jangling like this. They are pure, true and pretense-free.

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