First of all, I’d just like to say that I really, really wish the song “Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros WOULD GO THE FUCK AWAY!!! RELEASE SOMETHING ELSE! CRIKEY!
so anyway, today is the day.
today is a pivotal day.
today is the day I see Guided By Voices……LIVE. TONIGHT. AT THE PARADISE.
The only downside… I’ve been sick, as in SICK, really sick, the past 3-4 days. Today I feel a little better. Still coughing, still got the runny nose… but I feel an energy pulsing through my being. I have never seen Guided By Voices. In fact, at one point in my life, i HATED Guided By Voices. It wasn’t until I heard the song “Gold Heart Mountain Top Queen Directory” that I fell in love with them. After that it was all over. Guided by Voices has a VERY extensive discography, but I’ve managed to learn basically all of it. So to kick things off I’m going to do a Top Ten. It wont be easy, like I said, they have SO many songs, and so many good songs, that it’s really hard to chose….. but, I will try.
My Top Ten Favorite GBV Songs of All Time (in no particular order)
1. “Gold Heart Mountain Top Queen Directory” Album: Bee Thousand.
This is an obvious pick. Not only is it one of there most haunting, spine-tingling songs but it was the first song that turned me on to GBV. For a song thats only 1:40 seconds long, it sure leaves a long lasting impact. It starts off with a standard open tuning GBV riff, and then Pollards hypnotic, ultra-trebley vocals kick in, and you’re like…. oh my god this is good! Then all of the sudden the song seems to explode, with Pollard belting out lines about a girl who “runs through the night as if nobody cares”. A great example of how Pollard uses poetry as lyrics for indie-rock tunes. Just an unbelievable brilliant song by an even more unbelievable brilliant band. A+
2. “King And Caroline” – Album: Alien Lanes
A lot of my friends don’t seem to really like this song, and I don’t understand why. The lyrics cut out in the beginning, and the cheapness of the recording quality really stands out on this one. Plus, Pollard sings out of key a few times, but it works, in only the way it could work with Robert Pollard. What I love most about this song is the bass line. The song itself seems almost on the brink of collapse the whole time, but the bass glues it all together. Pollard’s vocals are inspired and emotional. I can help but sense some great melancholy in his voice on this song, like the lyrics almost hurt him to sing them. Great, great tune. Another short one, finishing at 1:36 minutes.
3. “Weed King” Album: Propeller
How can I describe this song… well, for one, it is quite haunting. I know I use that word too often, but its true. It also has one of the best climaxes to any song ever. Pollards vocals are on ultra reverb. The first minute you listen to this song, you wanna put a lighter up in the air and sway. It’s dark, but it’s mellow. Then it takes this turn, a few words about lemonade and freedom cake, and all of the sudden there’s this release of rock n’ roll catharsis. Dark, brooding, catchy as hell, that’s what GBV is all about, and at 2:39, this one could be considered pretty long by GBV standards. All hail rock-a-thon.
4. “Club Molluska” Album: Same Place the Fly Got Smashed.
I first heard this song at my cousins house. He put on this documentary about GBV called “Watch Me Jumpstart”. I was just starting to come around about GBV. The movie starts out with a car driving around Ohio. This song is playing in the back-round. It was almost a spiritual moment in my life. It really captured the dreariness and the gray concrete drabness of living in the Midwest. Anyway, the song is really short, at 1:35 minutes, but its power is beyond space and time. You can’t even really tell if you’re hearing a guitar or a really low-tuned fuzzy bass. Two chords. The song opens with Pollard asking “Have you seen that girl? With the blood shot eyes? with the razor sharp teeth? and the hungry smile?”. In the documentary, the camera angle is from the hood of the car. You don’t see anybody. You just see a run away world.
5. “Chicken Blows” Album: Alien Lanes
Pollard sounds like he’s underwater. Like most of my favorite GBV songs, the song is depressing, and sounds like it’s about being middle aged and miserable. With a little cleaning up, this song sounds like it could have been a hit in the 60’s. With the “La La La” back ups, it’s almost like indie doo-wop. My favorite line: “I’m not here…. to drink all your beer” Classic Pollard.
6. “Indian Was An Angel” Album: King Shit and the Golden Boys
This nostalgia-pop song is sort of an obscure one by GBV, its not on any of there “popular” records, like Bee Thousand, Alien Lanes, Propeller, etc. This song makes me want to cry. The sadness in Pollards voice. “She says nothing to take the pain away” <—I love that fucking line. Anyway it’s an acoustic one, with a little bass in there for good measure. This one became an instant favorite when I first heard it, which was when I was in a GBV downloading frenzy. I almost named by band Little Star after the line in this song, “Little star went rolling up the hill… asked me to come and dance I said I will”.
7 “Liars Tale” Album: Self-INflicted Aeriel Nostalgia
The tremolo guitar. It reminds me of “Crimson And Clover”. This song is just a simple guitar riff, tremolo’d to the max. With a few snare hits now and then for good measure. Pollard tells us a story, about the way ‘she’ was. Apparently she was a bitch, who left him. This song is just simply amazing, conclusive and based on fact. Also I think this if the first of the many songs that Pollard sings the words “I don’t really care anymore”.
8. “If We Wait” Album: Sunfish Holy Breakfast
Wow. Robert Pollard has so many different voices. All of them amazing. Something in this song is just so depressing. The song starts off with Pollard telling us “Theres some food up on the table, boys….and if you ever seen me flying. Then you know that I am weak. and you are free to take me down stairs away from cares.” This is why Pollard is the Shakespeare of indie rock. His words are so effective. The song then kicks in with drums and super treble acoustic guitars. Pollard then asks us “If you could be anything that you want to be, would you be what you see in the mirror? Hm. Then, like he does in a lot of songs, he sings “Oh… I dont care anymore” Which like I said, is a recurring line in his songs. The ending of this song also rocks. Hard.
9. “Mincer Ray” Album: Bee Thousand
I had to include a Tobin Sprout song in this list. Tobin had a bunch of awesome tunes in GBV (awful bliss, a good flying bird, gleemer, etc) but thats not the ONLY reason I’m including this song. It’s just a great song. Quintessential dreary, fuzzy, melancholy GBV. Pollard is to Tobin like John Lennon is to Paul Macartney. Both wrote good songs, Pollard just wrote a whole lot more. Tobin’s are more whimsical, while Pollards are more dark. Mincer Ray is probably Tobin’s most dark piece. Though I have no idea what a Mincer Ray is, it sounds cool.
10.”Lonely Town” -Album: Suitcase 2
How this never ended up on an LP is BEYOND ME. This song RULES. First of all, Pollard sings in a very Elvis-like manner, which is very different for him, but it works. Plus the guitar lead is probably the most simplistic yet catchy lead I’ve ever heard. The song paints a picture in my mind of a very desolate one horse town where nothing happens (something I can relate too… I DID live in Marblehead). Anyway, Lonely Town is THEE best GBV song never to be released on an official album. How it never made the cut is beyond me. Great song, Great hook, Great band!
SO THATS MY LIST! HOPE YA ENJOYED!