In addition to decades of writing their own lovely songs, Yo La Tengo run a sideline as one of the world’s greatest cover bands. They pepper almost every album and live show with other people’s compositions, and regularly pull stunts like their yearly fundraiser for their beloved local radio station WFMU, during which anyone who pledges $100 can request any song (literally any song) and they’ll do their best to play it.
Naturally, for their new Spotify Singles release, they pulled out a cover: a six-minute version of “Time Fades Away,” the slashing title cut from one of Neil Young’s rawest albums, which they’ve also played live in the past. As guitar players, Young and Yo La Tengo’s Ira Kaplan share an ability to wring emotion and melody from feedback and noise, a similarity that is highlighted here. If you’re the type of YLT fan who enjoys freakouts like “Mushroom Cloud of Hiss” and “And the Glitter Is Gone,” you’ll be happy with their take on it.
“Time Fades Away” comes with a take on the serene Georgia Hubley ballad “Shades of Blue” that is fairly faithful to the version on this year’s There’s a Riot Going On. Hear both below.