Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Yo La Tengo, "From A Motel 6"

February is the worst month of the year. Winter refuses to go away. With Super Bowl over and March Madness and the baseball season yet to start, sports options are really lame on nights when I have nothing better to do than watch television. Hollywood dumps its shitty movies in the theater. Awards shows and their fatuous celebrity worship are everywhere.

Every year at this time I never fail to get into the dumps. In these times I have lean especially hard on music for help. Back in grad school I even made a mix tape (one of my last) called "Late Winter Blues" that I kept in my car tape deck through the whole month of February. One of those songs, one that I always return to, is Yo La Tengo's "From A Motel 6." While this came out during their 1990s heyday, I did not discover them until I met my friend Kevin back in the year 2000, when we learned we were both way into indie rock. The Painful album was one of the first CDs anyone ever burned for me. The year we spent rooming together was a musical education, one I am still grateful for.

I like Yo La Tengo's 90s period in winter because of the droning, Velvet Underground-derived guitar. It's the sound of hard, cold winter sunlight reflecting off a snowbank whizzing by my window while I drive on slushy streets. I have no idea what the song's about, I just know that the title is a reference to Bob Dylan's "From A Buick 6," which also has a strong riff behind it. When I listen to this, like a lot of 90s indie guitar rock, I let my mind wander in the swirls of the feedback-drenched guitars, losing myself for a few minutes. It's a welcome deliverance from February.

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