Monday, March 15, 2021

Murdering the Classics on WFMU

A good cover tune is truly something to behold. A cover can even surpass the original. This can even happen with top-tier artists. The Jimi Hendrix version of "All Along the Watchtower" is so solid that people forget that Bob Dylan wrote it. Aretha Franklin owns "Respect" so hard that she pwns Otis Redding. I'd argue that Nine Inch Nails and Johnny Cash tie with their respective version of "Hurt". But that's not true of Yo La Tengo. Their request-only WFMU benefit covers are classic in their own way, but it's in that different, Gen-X ironic sense of the word.  They strangle these poor songs. But with that special, car wreck way it makes for irresistible, unforgettable live radio. On March 7th, 2020 they held their 25th annual Yo La Tengo Request-a-thon. 

The date of the show has always varied, and the show they guested on was also quite variable before 2015. But the co-host has almost always been Gaylord Fields. My list below has a lot of gaps in it. WFMU blogged it some years, posted a playlist other years and some years apparently left no searchable virtual record. Beware of the Blog only began in 2005, and information before that is scant.  On different years Yo La Tengo performed on slightly different dates, and on different WFMU programs but always during the WFMU fundraiser. If you can fill in any of the blanks please comment on this post.

 YEAR
SHOW
 AIR DATE
 PLAYLIST
2021
Todd-O-Phonic Todd
03/13/2021
PLAYLIST
2020
Todd-O-Phonic Todd 03/02/2020
PLAYLIST
2019
Todd-O-Phonic Todd 03/09/2019
PLAYLIST
2018
Todd-O-Phonic Todd 03/10/2018
PLAYLIST
2017
Todd-O-Phonic Todd 03/18/2017
PLAYLIST
2016
Todd-O-Phonic Todd 03/12/2016 PLAYLIST
2015
Todd-O-Phonic Todd 03/14/2015 PLAYLIST
2014
The Evan "Funk" Davies Show
02/26/2014 PLAYLIST
2013
Hello Children with Faye 03/14/2013 PLAYLIST
2012
Pseu's Thing With A Hook
03/02/2012
PLAYLIST
2011
Trash Flow Radio
03/04/2011
PLAYLIST
2010
Pseu's Thing With A Hook 03/05/2010
PLAYLIST
2009
Pseu's Thing With A Hook 03/13/2009
PLAYLIST
2008
Bob Brainen's Show 03/02/2008
PLAYLIST
2007
Gaylord Fields & Tom Scharpling 03/16/2007
PLAYLIST
2006
Gaylord Fields & Tom Scharpling 03/07/2006
PLAYLIST
2005
Gaylord Fields & Tom Scharpling 03/15/2005
PLAYLIST
2004
Gaylord Fields & Tom Scharpling 03/20/2004
PLAYLIST
2003


PLAYLIST
2002

03/16/2002
PLAYLIST
2001


PLAYLIST
2000

03/07/2000?
PLAYLIST
1999


PLAYLIST
1998


PLAYLIST
1997


PLAYLIST
1996


PLAYLIST

So when the band released Yo La Tengo Is Murdering the Classics in 2006 it removed that spontaneous rubber-necking experience and replaced it with a car crash montage that feels somewhat anemic by comparison. It lacks the visceral qualities, the fits and starts, the technical difficulties, and the unintended absurdities. The fund-raiser compilation includes covers from between 1996 and 2003. The 30 tracks make for a somewhat comedic 76-minute slog. But it's all for a good cause. Interestingly the existence of the disc seems to have further popularized the live radio program.

They way it works is that all listeners who pledged money during the band's appearances are offered a chance to request one song that the band would then attempt to perform. Yo La Tengo has no way to know what songs might be requested and therefore reserve the right to play the song, or fragment of a song in any form, tempo or key they see fit —acapella, instrumental or otherwise. Some tunes are therefore unrecognizable, or may even be a bluff. We have no way to know. The WFMU benefit compilation album compiles 30 "highlights" broadcast between 1996 and 2003.The breakdown of the full track list is below:

SEQUENCE
TRACK
PERFORMANCE
1
Tighten Up
2001
2
The Night Chicago Died
1997
3
Raw Power
2000
4
Sea Cruise
1997
5
Favorite Thing
2003
6
Baseball Altamont 2000
7
Meet the Mets 2002
8
Oh Bondage, Up Yours 1997
9
Ding dang/Interplanetary Music 1999
10
Captain Lou
1999
11
Oh, Sweet Nuthin'
1999
12
Route 66
2001
13
Roadrunner
2000
14
Tijuana Taxi
1998
15
Mendocino
2000
16
Sweet Dreams
2000
17
Baby's On Fire
2003
18
Mary Anne With The Shaky Hand
2001
19
The Hokey Pokey
1998
20
You May Be Right
1999
21
Mama Told Me Not To Come
2002
22
Roundabout
2000
23
You Ain't Seen Nothing yet
1998
24
Don't Worry Koko
2003
25
Downtown
1999
26
Let the Good Times Roll
1997
27
Never On Sunday 1998
28
20th Century Boy 2002
29
Rock The Boat
2000
30
Shotgun / Medley 2002

2 comments: