Song 166: Yo La Tengo, “Our Way to Fall” (2000)

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Back in 2000, I picked up Yo La Tengo’s And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out at Bull Moose on a whim. I’d heard the band was good, and the cover was awesome. It turned out to not only be a great record, but a perfect introduction to Yo La Tengo, a band that had already, at that point, been around for 16 years. I’d missed out on the glorious I Can Hear the Heart Beating As One, but I got to hear this one, a strange, wonderful mix of the band’s disparate strengths, the year it came out.

And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out has all the Yo La Tengo elements that have made them such an enduring indie rock band for 30 years: the fuzzy pop they perfected with “Sugarcube” (reincarnated here as “Cherry Chapstick”), the distortion marathon of “Hoboken,” and the hazy, sweet “Our Way to Fall.” The bouncy “We Can Have It All” is the obvious favorite on this record, but “Our Way to Fall,” a paean to the important things people share, is the sleeper hit.

Bands like Yo La Tengo don’t tend to get much attention for their lyrics, and I’m not sure why that is. It may just be the difference between bands and solo artists, the latter of which people assume write autobiographical, memoir-type songs. But Yo La Tengo’s songs usually have interesting lyrics, and “Our Way to Fall” is no exception. I love the simplicity of the memories being described: “I remember sitting next to you/and I remember pretending I wasn’t looking.” That’s such a great description of being in love with someone.

This song always makes me think of the commercial that Errol Morris directed for PBS. It’s similarly based on the images and feelings that come from memories, and I think it’s a perfect use of this song.

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