Featuring Dave Schramm on lead guitar, the cover stays fairly close to the folk-tinged original. “No I’d rather go and journey/Where the diamond crescent’s glowing,” they sing. “And run across the valley/Beneath the sacred mountain.”
Written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King, “Wasn’t Born to Follow” originally appeared on the Byrds’ 1968 album The Notorious Byrd Brothers and subsequently featured in 1969’s Easy Rider. “I’m sure I heard the Byrds’ song for the first time when my mom took me and a bunch of my friends to see Easy Rider,” Ira Kaplan said in a statement. “One kid was forbidden by his parents from joining us, as was my younger brother. My dad took my brother to see Butch Cassidy [and the Sundance Kid] instead, and I’m guessing my friend stayed home and did homework.”
The six-song EP was made in collaboration with artist Yoshimoto Nara, who designed the cover art. It includes a cover of Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited track “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry,” recorded by producer Roger Moutenot while the band recorded 2000’s And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out. “Yes, we’re as dumbfounded as you are, if not more so,” Kaplan said. “After a lot of sleuthing, we came up with this.”
The rest of the EP consists of a rendition of the Delmore Brothers’ “Blues Stay Away,” Ronnie Lane’s “Roll on Babe,” and the Flying Machine’s “Smile a Little Smile for Me.” The band recorded one original for the EP, “Bleeding.”
Last month, Yo La Tengo released We Have Amnesia Sometimes, composed of five instrumental tracks recorded last spring in lockdown. Matador is preparing to reissue the band’s 1995 LP Electr-o-pura this fall, as part of their Revisionist History series.
Sleepless Night is available for preorder now.
Sleepless Night Tracklist
1. Blues Stay Away
2. Wasn’t Born to Follow
3. Roll On Babe
4. It Takes a Lot to Laugh
6. Smile a Little Smile for Me