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The American Conservative House Band!

I want to make the case that The American Conservative needs a house band, and that house band should be Yo La Tengo. Now, I am aware that the members of Yo La Tengo would probably be horrified at being chosen as the house band of The American Conservative; moreover, few readers of The American Conservative will care for the music of Yo La Tengo. Nevertheless, I am convinced of the rightness of my cause.

Here are my reasons:

  • Yo La Tengo has been around a long time: twenty-nine years. In the time-frame of rock music, that’s nearly eternal. Moreover, since 1991 the band has consisted of the same three members: Ira Kaplan, Georgia Hubley, and James McNew. Such stability and continuity constitute a valuable object lesson for those with eyes to see and ears to hear.
  • Of course, U2 has been around even longer with the same personnel. But get this: the heart of Yo La Tengo, Kaplan and Hubley, are a married couple — which means that they model marital stability as well as continuity in their work. Plus, Yo La Tengo is therefore a small family business! — which traditionalist conservatives love, right?
  • For the whole of their long existence, Yo La Tengo has been based in unfashionable Hoboken, New Jersey. They could have relocated to Brooklyn, or even the Village, but they stayed in Hoboken, thus modeling commitment to place, another signal virtue for tradcons.
  • The band is well-known for its vast repertoire of covers: they love to play songs written by other people, and indeed can play almost anything suggested to them on a moment’s notice. They thereby demonstrate immersion in a living tradition.
  • Their annual Hannukah concerts in Hoboken are legendary, and demonstrate their ongoing commitment to the continuities of religious community.
  • Their name is taken from a famous baseball anecdote, and conservatives love baseball.
  • They have a record called I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass, which is sure to appeal to the hyper-aggressive Breitbart wing of conservatism.

Quod est demonstrandum.

about the author

Alan Jacobs is a Distinguished Professor of the Humanities in the Honors Program at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, and the author most recently of The Book of Common Prayer: A Biography.

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