Mixtapes for Hookers

2003. Song #5 Is Climbing Up The Escalator As It Takes You Down
November 12, 2009, 12:23 pm
Filed under: design of a decade, lists, music | Tags: , ,

Picture 6

#5. Yo La Tengo, Little Eyes

I was unfamiliar with Hoboken trio Yo La Tengo until the year 2000, when I got their lovely album And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out.  I was a freshman at a college in dreadfully snowy upstate New York and I was working at an indie-snob radio station.  I ironed my jeans and had Rivers Cuomo glasses.

A few months later, once things started to that, Yo La Tengo played an outdoor show at the Mohawk Valley Community College in Utica.  It was raining that night and there were Slip N Slides.  They played on anyway, veering happily between songs from their last record and covers of Somebody’s Baby and You Sexy Thing.  And that’s when I became a lifelong fan.

Their next album, Summer Sun, came out in 2003, and ultimately I was a little disappointed.  It was just as pretty as the album before it, but individual songs didn’t seem quite as innovative as they did on the previous record.  Season of the Shark and Moonrock Mambo and their cover of Big Star’s Take Care were all good, sure, but nothing resonated quite as much as Cherry Chapstick or Our Way To Fall or Madeline.

Nothing, that is, except for Little Eyes.  This song is lovely!  Little Eyes is about insomnia and ice, speed and danger.  But it’s also a low-energy dance number, one for people who are too tired or sad or anti-social to go clubbing.

My second college radio show, which started in 2005, was called The World’s Slowest Dance Party, and I conceived the idea largely with this song in mind.  Like the Church’s Under The Milky Way or some Tindersticks or Black Heart Procession songs, it just makes me want to dance.  Danciness is an odd quality to look for from a group of squares like Yo La Tengo, but the pleasant surprise of its mildly psychy left-field groove is what makes it so appealing.

[image from YLT’s official site; click here to find out what other second-graders think of the song.]

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