Hear This: Yo La Tengo’s “Tom Courtenay” pays homage to ‘60s British movie stars

In Hear This, The A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well. This week: In honor of the Oscars, songs named after celebrities.

Yo La Tengo, “Tom Courtenay” (1995)

At no point during Yo La Tengo’s 1995 single “Tom Courtenay” does the band sing or say the actor’s name. Currently appearing in the excellent British drama 45 Years alongside Oscar nominee Charlotte Rampling, Courtenay was once one of the stalwarts of 1960s U.K. cinema, appearing in films like The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner, Billy Liar, and Doctor Zhivago. In the latter two, he starred alongside Julie Christie, whose name YLT guitarist Ira Kaplan does sing in “Tom Courtenay.” The song begins with the line, “Julie Christie, the rumors are true,” and then proceeds to make reference to an unnamed “movie star” and “our hero.” But the “Mr. X” in question is …

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