That one imprint at @HachetteBooks that is filled with ridiculously good looking people
Reagan Arthur Books, obvs.
Notes on Jesse Jarnow’s BIG DAY COMING: YO LA TENGO AND THE RISE OF INDIE ROCK
This is a book about people having careers—not just Yo La Tengo, but the people who run their record label and make their videos and manage the club.
It’s been described as a history of indie rock through the prism of Yo La Tengo, but that’s not quite right: it’s a history of a tiny slice of NY/NJ-based indie rock through the prism of Yo La Tengo. You could write 20 equivalent books with completely different casts. I wouldn’t care about those books, though, because they wouldn’t be about Yo La Tengo.
Yo La Tengo’s artistic significance aside, the book’s chief interest as a historical document is as a description of how things were done before the Internet. Many of the characters spend their time and energy moving physical objects—records, zines, letters—around the country in a way that seems very old-fashioned.
Georgia’s parents were artists themselves, of course, but Ira’s parents seem to have just been nice supportive liberal parents. Before moving to Hoboken, Ira lived in an inexplicably rent-free Upper West Side apartment.
For a long time they supplemented their income from music and journalism with freelance copy-editing, which Ira describes as a nice thing to do while listening to records.
There are a few artistic turning points, all within a few years: Georgia starts singing; James joins the band; one afternoon they plug in an Ace Tone organ that another band has left in the practice space and for the first time achieve a kind of gestalt, which leads directly to the astonishing communicative leap of Painful.
Painful marked the moment at which Ira started thinking of sonic problems as logistical problems, which are the kind of problems he enjoys.
Georgia at one point tells an engineer that she doesn’t want the drums to sound like “the snare drum and its little friends.”
The big biographical question—kids?—is addressed only obtusely, with a quote from a 2002 interview with the Times Magazine (“That’s none of your business”). It’s clear that the Yo La Tengo story would not have been compatible with kids.
The big biographical theme—what’s it like to be married to your lifelong artistic collaborator?—is never directly discussed, but the answer comes through anyway: difficult, unromantic, wonderful.
At some point I might even post something here. But for now: who should I be following? I’m looking for people who use Tumblr primarily for writing rather than pics, videos, etc.