Pete Yorn: Live from New Jersey

David Brecheisen

Live in his hometown, the show is a walk down memory lane for Yorn and pleasant trip through his catalog for his fans.

Pete Yorn

Live from New Jersey

Label: Columbia
US Release Date: 2004-11-23
UK Release Date: Available as import

Beginning with the opening blues riffs of Junior Kimbrough's "I Feel Good Again", continuing through the perennial bar favorite, Elvis's "Suspicious Minds", and closing with the acoustic version of Springsteen's "Atlantic City", Pete Yorn unabashedly wears his music heritage on his sleeve. In addition to the covers, throughout the show Yorn references musicians that influenced and inspired him, including some of his contemporaries. In his humility on stage and awe of some of these artists, Yorn seems content as a musician whose spotlight shines in the shadows of those giants that inspired him but Yorn's own music isn't anything to disregard. His songs and voice are steeped in the songs of those he claims his heroes, but carry with them their own honest emotion. Live from New Jersey captures the best from his body of work. Fans of Yorn will enjoy the slight variations in the songs and the intimacy of Yorn's performance, and newcomers have an opportunity to collect Yorn's best stuff in one album.

The constant references to other musicians and their importance in his life reveals Yorn as first and foremost a music fan -- nostalgic for the rock era that he was weaned on. Some of the nostalgia Yorn expresses probably has something to do with the location of the show. Live from New Jersey was the last show of his tour, recorded on October 29, 2003 at the Community Theatre in Morristown, New Jersey -- just a short jaunt from Yorn's childhood home. (The same show was originally made available for download via Yorn's website in January).

Most of the original songs on Live from New Jersey are from Yorn's impressive debut musicforthemorningafter. The rest of the set is made up of a handful of covers and highlights from his sophomore album, Day I Forgot, with one exception. The exception is a tribute to the late Jeff Buckley, "Bandstand in the Sky", written in 1997. Before the track, Yorn dedicates the song to Buckley, and also acknowledges the (at the time) recently passed Elliott Smith. Again, through his recognition of the importance of recent musical figures like Smith and Buckley, Yorn shows his humility as an artist. The song itself, although lyrically depressing, sounds like the classic sugary pop numbers from the '60s about life's passing.

Yorn's debut musicforthemorningafter charged onto the music scene with a fever. Rolling Stone gave the album the rarest rating of four stars and declared him one of their 10 artists to watch. His follow-up suffered the expected sophomore slump but did have its highlights (most of which are here). On both albums the songs that stand out the most are those that showcase Yorn's ability to craft vulnerable, poignant songs direct in their arrangement. The live album isn't much different. Although his more upbeat numbers, including "Crystal Village" and "Carlos (Don't Let it Go to Your Head)", are solid performances, with much stripped down bar band appeal, Yorn shines when his voice and guitar do the majority of the talking for the songs. "Loose You" and "Just Another" both showcase this talent beautifully, but on no song is Yorn's talent as a performer and songwriter more evident than the touching "All at Once". Accompanied by only guitar and a drifting piano melody, Yorn's voice quakes with emotion by the time he hits the chorus. The passion he offers to his crowd during the song is relentless and moving.

After his debut, USA Today declared Yorn, "if not the future of rock 'n' roll, at least a promising new disciple." It is unlikely that Yorn will someday swoop down and save rock as its future. I'm not sure what he would save it from or be the future of, but Live from New Jersey does prove him to be loyal disciple. Pete Yorn's belief in rock and roll and his talent as a songwriter are captured here, making the album an intimate look at an artist who's still excited to be living out his childhood dreams.


To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less

Very few of their peers surpass Eurythmics in terms of artistic vision, musicianship, songwriting, and creative audacity. This is the history of the seminal new wave group

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee's yearly announcement of the latest batch of potential inductees always generates the same reaction: a combination of sputtering outrage by fans of those deserving artists who've been shunned, and jubilation by fans of those who made the cut. The annual debate over the list of nominees is as inevitable as the announcement itself.

Keep reading... Show less

Barry Lyndon suggests that all violence—wars, duels, boxing, and the like—is nothing more than subterfuge for masculine insecurities and romantic adolescent notions, which in many ways come down to one and the same thing.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) crystalizes a rather nocturnal view of heterosexual, white masculinity that pervades much of Stanley Kubrick's films: after slithering from the primordial slime, we jockey for position in ceaseless turf wars over land, money, and women. Those wielding the largest bone/weapon claim the spoils. Despite our self-delusions about transcending our simian stirrings through our advanced technology and knowledge, we remain mired in our ancestral origins of brute force and domination—brilliantly condensed by Kubrick in one of the most famous cuts in cinematic history: a twirling bone ascends into the air only to cut to a graphic match of a space station. Ancient and modern technology collapse into a common denominator of possession, violence, and war.

Keep reading... Show less

This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Keep reading... Show less

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow shines on her impressive interpretation of Fontella Bass' classic track "Rescue Me".

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow pays tribute to the classic Chicago label Chess Records on her new album Playing Chess, which was produced by Steve Greenberg, Mike Mangini, and the legendary Betty Wright. Unlike many covers records, LeGrow and her team of musicians aimed to make new artistic statements with these songs as they stripped down the arrangements to feature leaner and modern interpretations. The clean and unfussy sound allows LeGrow's superb voice to have more room to roam. Meanwhile, these classic tunes take on new life when shown through LeGrow's lens.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.