Yo La Tengo: ‘When We Let The World In, It Can Be So Profound’

l2It can take years for a musician to discover his or her voice. But in the meantime, they find themselves by discovering the music of other artists. With a wide-ranging catalog spanning 30 years, Yo La Tengo is its own band, but the trio has become just as noted for its huge repertoire of cover songs.

Yo La Tengo’s new album, Stuff Like That There, features covers from the well-known (Hank Williams, Cat Stevens, The Cure) to the obscure (Antietam, The Special Pillow). Before serving as Morning Edition‘s in-house band, they sat down with NPR’s David Greene to talk about adapting to other artists.

Did you all have a goal in mind when you took “Friday I’m in Love” by The Cure into the studio?

Ira Kaplan: I’m not sure we were going for anything specifically. I think the sound of Georgia singing that song — we all respond to that and wanted to play in a way that was supportive of her. In fact, when we were recording it, it actually took us a little bit of trial and error. At first, Dave Schramm was playing electric guitar, as he does on every

The One Real Problem With Rolling Stone’s ‘Greatest Songwriters Of All Time’

l 1Lots of magazines do big lists, but few rely on them as heavily as Rolling Stone does. The magazine cranks out a list for just about every aspect of popular music. All promise authoritative, canonical overviews of various elements of the art; at their best, these offer context and critical insight, helping readers fill gaps in their knowledge.

The lists have become a lucrative part of the Rolling Stone brand. They’re also instant controversy magnets. So it is with the latest one — devoted to The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time.

Right on cue, this list — which was sponsored entirely by Apple Music (raise eyebrow over editorial independence here) — has generated its share of dissonance. In some Internet precincts, howls of outrage can be heard over certain regrettable omissions: No Jim Morrison! No Nick Drake! No Warren Zevon! No Public Enemy! (Curiously, though, The Notorious B.I.G. is represented.) No Pink Floyd! No John Mellencamp! How could they?

Elsewhere, the indignation has to do with the artists who were included: What is R. Kelly (ranked on the list at no. 80) doing on the same list as Holland-Dozier-Holland (15)? Taylor Swift

Lil Wayne In New Orleans: Hot Boys, History And Homecoming

9n6a3763_wide-d8254c68fde71e4c64808d3174d3b22df2fbfe54-s800-c85More than 20 years into Lil Wayne’s career, the froggy-voiced, diminutive rapper is hardly ever described as an elder statesman. But as he bounded through a nearly three-hour set at Friday’s Lil Weezyana Fest, a performance held fittingly at Champions Square, the outdoor plaza next to the Mercedes Benz Superdome built to commemorate the Saints Super Bowl-winning 2009 team, the dreadlocked artist merely skimmed his biggest pop victories, like “Lollipop” and “Love Me,” songs that have made him a bankable headliner worldwide. He hadn’t performed in his hometown for close to six years and the eponymous showcase, marking the ten year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, had been billed as a homecoming, an official reunion of the Hot Boys, the group with which he received his first success.

We’d have to wait to get to all that, though. The star didn’t hit the stage until almost two and a half hours after the crowd packed in, anticipation wilting in the 80 degree heat. As I navigated back and forth between the general admissions scrum pressed elbow to elbow dozens of yards from the stage and the VIPs in the bleachers staged to their

Host A Silent Disco Party With Wireless Headphones

Do you remember the era when “Beatles” first produced their energizing music and made the crowd go crazy with their beats? Of course, you do. Following their footsteps, we had so many bands who made the masses drool over with their muscle-thumping cords and pounded their hearts with their electrifying record labels. These rock stars have made us all shake legs on their popular beats ever since. Today, we have DJs doing the same. Partying and dancing with friends is something which every youth wants to indulge in. However, there are several restrictions to loud music. To beat the odds and still organize a party which marks an impression amidst your friends, you now have the flexibility of a silent disco. With wireless headphones, you can call for a party at anytime and anyplace. Possibly known as the future of entertainment, these wifi headphones make you put on your party shoes and invigorate a sense of freedom.

These party headphones save you the cost of organizing a party in a closed setting or a discotheque and explore the options of open settings. Each member is wearing his or her party headphones and listening to their favorite music. Also, a revelation has

We Didnt Wanna Be Anybody Else A Tribe Called Quest Reflects On Its Debut

Twenty-five years ago, the first album by A Tribe Called Quest hit record stores — and as soon as it dropped, it stood out. Even the title, People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, felt like an iconoclast’s mission statement.

It was the short life’s work of four guys from Queens who got together in high school: Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Jarobi White. Their socially conscious lyrics and Afrocentric visual style were in line with contemporaries like Public Enemy, but the vibe was different — loose, fun, with head-nodding beats pulled from sources far and wide.

“Hip-hop, at that point in time, was a lot of James Brown sampled music,” says Muhammad, the group’s DJ (and an NPR podcast host since 2013). “We wanted the sound to be a journey, and we brought forth a lot of melodic-based music — sort of that more poetic, but intellectual and fun aspect of creating music.”

“Back then, biting was forbidden. Nowadays, it’s pretty popular: MC So-and-So has a line that he originated, another MC comes along and takes it,” adds Phife Dawg. “We pretty much were always into being ourselves. We didn’t wanna be anybody else.”

Ahead of their Friday-night appearance of

The Go Betweens

The next time you’re down the local boozer with your mates and there’s an uncomfortable lull in the conversation, consider striking up a discussion based on the following question – which is the best band never to have had a top forty hit? Now, obviously, this is a version of the hoary old chestnut that’s passed many a drunken hour for the sports fan down the ages – who is the best footballer never to have played in the World Cup? The answer to that is a rather obvious one, of course, George Best. The musical variation of this question may be more stimulating.

Whilst Robert Lloyd and the various re-incarnations of his Brummie post-punk combo, The Nightingales, would make any respectable critics’ short list, his guttural, sub-Beefheart squeal was aimed more squarely at the underground than at the mainstream. The same uncompromising mindset also rules out the likes of New York’s Suicide and David Thomas’ experimental avant-garage group, Pere Ubu.

Soon enough, however, somebody will alight upon the only truly acceptable answer, at least the only answer acceptable to me, and a good number of other men and women of a certain age, who are each the proud possessors of

Richard Strauss Musical Mountain Climb

Harrowing tales of mountain climbing filled theaters this summer in such films as Meru and Everest. But exactly 100 years ago today, audiences took a different kind of climb when Richard Strauss premiered An Alpine Symphony, a majestic, musical depiction of a dawn-to-dusk hike up the Alps.

We’ve rounded up two Alpine Symphony experts to be our trail guides up the mountain. Semyon Bychkov is conducting the symphony tomorrow night with Los Angeles Philharmonic. David Hurwitz is the author of Richard Strauss: An Owner’s Manual and, like any good guide, he starts with a little background.

An Alpine Symphony was Strauss’ last tone poem,” he says. “By the time he wrote it, he’d achieved a level of mastery in orchestration which was pretty impressive, and this uses one of the largest orchestras ever assembled by anybody, especially in the brass department. It has 20 French horns, two sets of timpani, lots of extra trumpets and trombones, a wind machine, a thunder machine, extra woodwinds. And he even used a contraption for the wind section that would allow the players to hold long notes indefinitely without having to breathe. It involved foot pumps and air tubes and things like that. So it’s quite

‘Modern Girl’ Carrie Brownstein Describes Finding (And Hiding) Herself In Music

Guitarist and singer Carrie Brownstein is known for her defiant, kinetic performances in the band Sleater-Kinney. But she tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross that it was vulnerability that initially drew her to the music world.

“When people grow up with a family characterized by chaos and uncertainty and fragility, you look for a substitution for that,” she says. “Music was a means through which I could meet people and sort of begin the process of exploring who I was or who I could be.”

The child of an anorexic mother and a father who came out as gay in his 50s, Brownstein was an anxious, uncertain youth. She describes her search for identity and the sense of belonging she found in music in her new memoir, Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl.

“It took a while, but just even listening to music with a group of people and going to shows, that really was a pathway towards getting out of some of that darkness,” she says. “All of the elements of my life that couldn’t be explained, that I didn’t have the words for, were suddenly given a shape. … I had a soundtrack.”

Interview Highlights

On her mother’s anorexia

Meals and eating and that