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Yo La Tengo Energizes Morning Edition Studio

Aug 25, 2015
Originally published on August 25, 2015 1:32 pm

NPR's David Greene talks to members of the rock band Yo La Tengo at the end of their stint as Morning Edition's in-house band for a day, and throws it to them for a song.

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And I'm David Greene. I am not sitting in my usual spot next to Steve in our studio upstairs. I am downstairs in Studio One, which is right off the NPR lobby. It's our big performance space, and I'm with guitarist Ira Kaplan, his wife, Georgia Hubley - she's behind a set of drums about 20 feet in front of me. And to my left is bassist James McNew. They are the indie rock band Yo La Tengo, and this morning, they helped us make history. It was the first time MORNING EDITION has ever had a band right here performing all of the music in between stories and during our breaks. Thank you to all three of you for waking up so early and doing this.


GREENE: Ira, let me start with you. You were worried about being awake this morning - you said we have early hours - but just moments ago you were literally crawling around the floor with your guitar up against the speaker. It was probably the most punk rock thing I've ever seen happen in this building. Is there a technical term for what you were doing exactly?

KAPLAN: No. I don't think - I'm pretty anti-technical. I could not play technically if I wanted to. So, defensively, or fortunately, I'm not that interested in playing that way.

GREENE: Just when the spirit moves you.


GREENE: Georgia, take me to when you and Ira did your first performance together.

GEORGIA HUBLEY: Oh boy. Are you sure you want to go there?

GREENE: I do, I do.

HUBLEY: I don't think I do. Our first - like our first in front of people - I'm sure it was probably a party. In fact, it was a party at a long-defunct rock magazine office space. And we played a bunch of covers for a bunch of rock critics. I don't know what we were thinking.

GREENE: Sounds stressful.

HUBLEY: It was a little stressful, but actually it was pretty fun. I've seen pictures of it recently, and we're actually smiling, so we must've been having fun.

GREENE: Were you married yet at that point?

HUBLEY: We were not married at that point.

GREENE: OK. Could you tell that there was something really magical there?

HUBLEY: Of course - no - I don't know. Yeah.

KAPLAN: Well, you know, what I remember about that - I mean, the party was - the DB's, who were friends of ours, a band we both loved - asked us to help play on a few songs. And we went to their rehearsal space and played with them, and as we were leaving, we ran into the Fleshtones, another band we adored. And they were surprised to see me and Georgia, you know, with instruments. And it was Keith Streng who went, oh, you're never going to want to stop. You're going to love the feeling. I'm not sure we played anything worth listening to that night, but certainly the feeling of playing it was amazing.

GREENE: Well, we don't want you to stop either, so I think you have one more song to play for us, right?

KAPLAN: Yeah we got a brand new record called "Stuff Like That There." It's mostly cover songs, and this the first song on that record. It's written by the great Russ Titelman and the great Gerry Goffin, called "My Heart's Not In It." Let me just take my headphones off.

GREENE: Sounds good.

KAPLAN: There, they're off.

GREENE: And I will say this as you're getting ready. This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News with Steve Inskeep. I'm David Greene. Yo La Tengo, take it away.

HUBLEY: One, two, three four...

YO LA TENGO: (Singing) Since you left me, I've been out with other guys, but they don't see the lovelight shining in my eyes. And when they want to kiss goodnight, I just can't seem to do it right. My heart's not in it, oh, no. My heart's not in it, oh, no 'cause my heart still belongs to you, oh... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.