Mar 022023

Yo La Tengo recently began a tour in support of their latest album, This Stupid World. A good portion of the setlists have been devoted to original material from the new record, but the trio have been debuting some new and surprising live covers, too. Last week in San Francisco, YLT premiered a second-set version of “Goin’ Down the Road Feeling Bad,” a traditional tune most associated with the Grateful Dead.

YLT’s connections to the Dead are numerous and not without precedent. Though the two bands might seem like they exist in fully separate musical worlds, they share a decades-long streak of creative independence and eclecticism. Lately, YLT have been playing two-set shows and leaning into their jams, obvious staples of the Grateful Dead’s (and their various offshoots’) live shows. And the Grateful Dead seem to be on YLT’s collective minds in other more literal/specific ways recently as well: squarely in the middle of This Stupid World highlight “Tonight’s Episode”—amid a litany of oddly-named yo-yo tricks—there’s a not-so-subtle call-out to Steal Your Face, the Dead’s seminal live album recorded in San Francisco (and unofficial namesake for its longtime logo/mascot, Stealie). It feels fitting that “Goin’ Down the Road” would finally drop into YLT’s live rotation in the Bay Area of all places — part cool-handed reference, part big flex.

In other cover-related news, Yo La Tengo will pause their tour for one night next week (March 6th) to head back east and take part in seminal freeform radio station WFMU’s annual in-studio live covers marathon. On Monday March 6th at 9p EST, pledge $100 or more to WFMU’s effort, and Yo La Tengo will cover whatever song you’d like live on the air.

More info here, and take a listen to a clip of Yo La Tengo’s Grateful Dead cover below (courtesy of the Jokermen podcast).

Check out other Yo La Tengo covers here, including dozens from the band’s 2021 Hannukah run. 
Check out other Grateful Dead covers here.

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