My Top 1000 Songs #375: I Heard You Looking

[I've been writing up my Top 1000 songs on a daily basis--you can see them all in descending order by hitting the All My Favorite Songs tag.]

Another exception to my "No Instrumentals!" rule for this list, Yo La Tengo's epic guitar jam "I Heard You Looking" has long carried special emotional resonance for me. The band steadily grew stronger and stronger, from the decent if not-necessarily-striking college radio sound of their earliest late 80s records through the transition into indie rock stalwarts on 1992's excellent, underrated May I Sing With Me. But 1993's Painful was the true break-out, the first in a 3-LP trilogy that marked them for rock & roll immortality. Great songs that ranged from blistering feedback-drenched rockers to droning atmospheric soundscapes to gorgeous ballads... culminating in this perfect album closer, the capstone in the revelation that this was truly one of the most important bands in my life. 

It's a simple, pleasantly distorted guitar riff, endlessly repeated yet melodic enough to hold your interest even in the absence of vocals, which gradually builds into a trademark Ira Kaplan blow-out, paint-peeling madness, before dropping back into the restrained comfort of that solid riff...

...and then it happens all over again.

It's a great live showcase for the band, but the studio version gives an accurate preview of the on-stage madness.

Live 1995:
And just a few days ago!
A surprisingly reverent (and even longer) cover by Teenage Fanclub: