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News and Views for Authors. The primary voice of Booksquare is Kassia Krozser. She is a kind-hearted, gentle soul with a wealth of patience for the foibles of humani–wait, that’s not true at all. Kassia has never had an opinion she didn’t wish to express, nor has she ever been shy about telling the emperor that his clothes are, well, transparent. This is her way of expressing love, and she lavishes all of her adoration on the publishing industry because, like a child who needs firm, corrective guidance, publishers and writers need Booksquare.
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1. Certain Songs #572: Guns N’ Roses – “Pretty Tied Up”

guns pretty tied up Album: Use Your Illusion II
Year: 1991

My favorite Guns N’ Roses song is subtitled “The Perils of Rock ‘n’ Roll Decadence,” but since someone announces the song as “The pearls of rock ‘n’ roll decadence” at the outset, it’s once again Guns N’ Roses trying to have it both ways.

And given it’s written by my man Izzy Stradlin, its no surprise that “Pretty Tied Up” argues a pretty good case for both pearls of rock ‘n’ roll and the perils of decadence.

Opening with the sound of an electric sitar weaving in and out of an circular riff, “Pretty Tied Up” alternates dreamy, psychedelic verses with a cowbell-driven footstomping chorus straight out of the glam-rock playbook.

Speaking of rock ‘n’ roll decadence, Slash adds his own with the first wah-wah solo that actually worked since the back half of Jimi Hendrix’s second solo on “All Along The Watchtower.”

After that solo, the song halts for a second so that Axl can gather himself to top the BDSM imagery that had dominated the first verse with some true decadence:

Once you made that money it costs more now
It might cost a lot more than you’d think
I just found a million dollars
That someone forgot
It’s days like this that push me over the brink
Cool and stressing

“I just found a million dollars that someone forgot.” I’d call it the first humblebrag, but of course, it’s just a straight-up boast, all the more so because I seem to remember reading somewhere that it was actually true.

After the final chorus, all sorts of madness breaks loose, as they repeat the end of the chorus again and again while Slash overdubs about 15 more wah-wah solos until the fade.

“Pretty Tied Up”

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

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Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

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The post Certain Songs #572: Guns N’ Roses – “Pretty Tied Up” appeared first on Booksquare.

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2. Certain Songs #571: Guns N’ Roses – “Breakdown”

Guns Use Your Illusion II Album: Use Your Illusion II
Year: 1991

Out of all of the ridiculous epics that either graced (or ruined, depending on your opinion) the Illusion twins, the piano-driven “Breakdown” is easily my favorite.

For one thing, it’s got one of most sublime musical passages in all of their music. It’s about 1:20 in, and Axl has already sung the first verse, Izzy & Slash have slammed in with some power chords, and the whole song comes to a near halt for a second, before a gorgeous jumble of drums, pianos and guitars weave in and out of each other for just a couple of measures until a Matt Sorum snare slam kicks the song into gear.

After that, Dizzy Reed’s piano and by a modified Bo Diddley beat in and out of the stop-time choruses power “Breakdown” musically, and Axl is singing reflective lyrics in his wistful voice.

When I look around
Everybody always brings me down
Well is it them or me
Well I just can’t see
But there ain’t no peace to found
But if someone really cared
Well they’d take the time to spare
A moment to try and understand
Another one’s despair
Remember in this game we call life
That no one said it’s fair

Slash weighs in after the first chorus with a tremendous solo, and again at the end, when “Breakdown” kicks into its highest gear, climaxing with Axl quoting/stealing/appropriating Clevon Little’s monologue from Vanishing Point.

Ah, Vanishing Point, a film that holds a weird place in my personal film history. It came out in 1971, but there was no way I saw it before 1974 or 1975. But I know I saw it in the theaters, so it maybe have been a revival.

All I remember about it is this: it had a weird structure — starting near the end (which gave it its name — there was a DJ played by the Sheriff in Blazing Saddles, and it was the first time I ever saw boobs in a movie. Or any screen, I guess. One of the characters was a girl riding a motorcycle in the nude, because I guess that’s what happened in the Southwest in 1971?

Anyways, I always like to imagine that the reason that Axl chose to monolog from Vanishing Point not because he felt it said something about heroism or freedom, but because it was the first time he saw boobs in a movie, too!

Probably not, though.

Oh, and one more thing: two things I discovered while researching all of the Guns N’ Roses posts: One: they have a lot of fan-made videos for the songs that didn’t have proper videos, nearly all repurposing clips from their proper videos.

And two: the comments section of Guns N’ Roses videos aren’t a place for the faint-hearted.

Fan-made video for “Breakdown”

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

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Go to my Patreon page

The post Certain Songs #571: Guns N’ Roses – “Breakdown” appeared first on Booksquare.

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3. Certain Songs #570: Guns N’ Roses – “Get in The Ring”

Guns Use Your Illusion II Album: Use Your Illusion II
Year: 1991

Back in 1977, The Clash were offended that CBS released “Remote Control” as a single and responded with “Complete Control,” one of the greatest lyrics ever written about the need for artistic freedom, combined one of the most ferocious performances ever put to vinyl.

Both the music and lyrics perfectly complemented each other, and the combination resulted in a song that is an undisputed classic, full stop.

A dozen or so years later, Guns N’ Roses were offended at how they were being portrayed by various music writers and responded with “Get in The Ring,” which features one of the worst, most petulant lyrics ever written. Like a Donald Trump speech put to music.

But the music!! Not as amazing as “Complete Control,” duh, but for sheer power and utter momentum, it’s almost impossible to top full steam ahead power that “Get in the Ring” has achieved by the time it gets to its best lyric:

You may not like our integrity, yeah
We built a world out of anarchy
Oh yeah!

Of course, that’s after Axl’s rant, which is quite possibly the stupidest thing I love as much as I do. At the time, it struck me as just stupid, but as the band ramps up the music around it, now it seems funny. And getting funnier every year.

And that goes for all of you punks in the press that want to start shit by printin’ lies instead of the things we said.
That means you Andy Secher at Hit Parader, Circus magazine
Mick Wall at Kerrang, Bob Guccione Jr. at SPIN
What you pissed off ’cause your dad gets more pussy than you?
Fuck you! suck my fuckin’ dick!
You be rippin’ off the fuckin’ kids while they be payin’ their hard earned money to read about the bands they want to know about.
Printin’ lies, startin’ controversy.
You want to antagonize me? antagonize me motherfucker!
Get in the ring motherfucker!
And I’ll kick your bitchy little ass!
Punk!!

Of course, Guccione, who — unknown to Axl, I’m guessing — was an amateur boxer, responded and accepted the challenge. And of course, nothing ever happened.

I mean, except for this song, which climaxed with boxing noises and an announcer saying “And in this corner, weighing in at 850 pounds, Guns N’ Roses” as the band — and overdubbed fake crowd — chanting “Get in the ring” over and over and over as Slash kicked the song ever higher.

Of course, now that announcer would have to say: “And in this corner, weighing in at 850 pounds, W. Axl Rose!!” See what I did there?

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

The post Certain Songs #570: Guns N’ Roses – “Get in The Ring” appeared first on Booksquare.

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4. Certain Songs #569: Guns N’ Roses – “Civil War”

Guns civil war Album: Use Your Illusion II
Year: 1991

One of the fun parts of doing something like Certain Songs is that I get to finally explain some of my long-held but hardly-expressed theories. Which I have a lot of!!

And here comes one of the most indefensible: not only is Use Your Illusion II the greatest Guns N’ Roses album, it’s the greatest metal album ever made by Americans.

You’ll, of course, note that “Americans” qualifier. Because Led Zeppelin. And maybe even Black Sabbath & Deep Purple. So if you’ll accept that (and that GN’R qualify as “metal”) — and of course there’s no reason you have to — then what’s better?

Some of you might say one of those Metallica albums, and sure, but if I’m going to be honest, everybody else in the universe loves Metallica more than I do. So nope.

And because I was never really into thrash or hair metal, to me, the only competition is Van Halen (which beats Women and Children First on account of what kind of bolt from the blue it truly was), Superunknown and Rocks.

All worthy, and I’ve always loved Rocks beyond measure (and I really shorted Aerosmith in Certain Songs because they were the first band I wrote about and I had no idea how extensive my writing was going to end up being) (so damn straight I’ll get back to them), but I’ve been listening to Use Your Illusion II pretty fucking consistently for the past 25 years.

And “Civil War” sets the template for the rest of the album, which is full of epic songs alternating with blistering rockers. But unlike the epics on Use Your Illusion I, “November Rain” & “Coma,” a song like “Civil War” never felt self-consciously epic, but rather just ended up that way.

Starting with a Cool Hand Luke sample over an acoustic guitar, but driven by a big riff and lord knows how many guitar solos, “Civil War” does the quiet loud quiet thing — featuring Axl alternating his crooning voice and his screeching voice — before settling into its big thesis statement:

And
I don’t need your civil war
It feeds the rich while it buries the poor
Your power hungry sellin’ soldiers
In a human grocery store
Ain’t that fresh
I don’t need your civil war

Eventually, driven by Dizzy Reed’s rollicking barrel-house piano, “Civil War” launches into its rave-up coda with Axl repeating the chorus, and its so dense and powerful that it feels like an announcement.

“Attention! While Use Your Illusion I was exactly what you might have expected, we’re going to shift into a whole new gear with Use Your Illusion II!”

And the rest of Use Your Illusion II was the proof.

Which, I realize, is a bit ironic, as “Civil War” was actually the first thing recorded for the Illusion twins, and as such, the only song to feature original drummer Steven Adler, but it just means that they wanted to imbue each disc with its own personality, and “Civil War” was the best way to establish the personality of Use Your Illusion II.

“Civil War”

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

The post Certain Songs #569: Guns N’ Roses – “Civil War” appeared first on Booksquare.

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5. Certain Songs #568: Guns N’ Roses – “November Rain”

Guns november Album: Use Your Illusion I
Year: 1991

In the early 1990s, if you wanted to prove how big of an artist you were, it wasn’t about your riders or groupies or drugs or private planes.

Nope. It was about how big your videos were. We didn’t know it at the time, but the early 1990s was the the last great moment of the MTV-oriented video era, and Guns N’ Roses took full advantage of the gynormous budgets guaranteed by their stardom to make ridiculously over-the-top videos that matched both their ridiculously over-the-top songs and their ridiculously over-the-top egos.

And sitting on the top that they were constantly going over? “November Rain,” W. Axl Rose’s attempt to write “Stairway to Dream On.”

And while the “November Rain” video seemed insane and nonsensical, that’s only if you don’t realize that it was secretly outing Slash as a Time Lord. Called, er, “Slash.” You see, the wedding — you know, where Axl is basically showing off that his girlfriend is supermodel Stephanie Seymour — takes place in and the wedding takes place in his TARDIS.

And now the most famous scene in that video — one of the most famous scenes in any music video — where Slash walks out of the giant church where the wedding is plays his guitar solo while a helicopter shot reveals that the church is larger on the inside that it is on the outside suddenly makes sense, right?

Back then of course, it didn’t make any sense, because whoever heard of a Time Lord playing guitar? Now, of course, we know better. Though we should have realized it then, because how else would Slash get a CREEM T-shirt in 1992?

That said, make all of the fun you want, because the popularity of “November Rain” has been as huge as the song, and the nearly nine-minute single made the top ten, and the video was not only the top video on MTV that year (though it didn’t win the VMA), since it was put on YouTube in 2009, it’s been watched over 600,000,000 times.

Official Video for “November Rain”

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

The post Certain Songs #568: Guns N’ Roses – “November Rain” appeared first on Booksquare.

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6. Certain Songs #567: Guns N’ Roses – “Double Talkin’ Jive”

Guns Use 1 Album: Use Your Illusion I
Year: 1991

Izzy Stradlin was always my favorite. While he could have seemed like the lukewarm water between Axl Rose’s fire and Slash’s ice, to me he was also the guy who embodied the straight-ahead rock ‘n’ roll groove at the heart of Guns n’ Roses.

He was also arguably the best songwriter in the band, which was why their first move after he left was to do a covers album, and their second move was to break up.

But of course, all of that was in the future, because in September, 1991 — in the middle of a three-month release period that solidified 1991 as my favorite year ever for music — Guns n’ Roses were the biggest fucking thing on the planet, thanks to their larger-than-life decision to release what was essentially two double albums on the same day.

I remember going to Tower Records to buy the Illusion twins the evening they came out — though not at midnight, because in September of 1991, I probably wasn’t in any shape to go anywhere at midnight — and coming across an indie-rock friend of mine (who might be reading this exact post), who asked me why I was there. And when I told him it was to buy Guns n’ Roses, he looked at me like I was kidding.

But, of course, I wasn’t, and songs like the Izzy Stradlin-sung “Double Talkin’ Jive” more than justified my decision.

Like so many of the songs on Use Your Illusion I, “Double Talkin’ Jive” comes absolutely roaring out of the gate, with a huge riff in one speaker and Matt Sorum’s utterly unforgiving beat powering the song, and slams into a stop-time chorus where Izzy — backed by Axl — believably sings about a life that he probably never led:

Double talkin’ jive
Get the money motherfucker
‘Cause I got no more patience
Double talkin'(lies)
-I got
No more patience
Man

Barely a minute in, we’ve had a couple of verses and choruses so Slash takes over for a long long guitar solo that — with Sorum egging him on — soars and soars and soars until it finally fades into a classical guitar segment that reminds me of Black Sabbath at the end of “Symptom of The Universe”

On one level, it’s probably a bit of a throwaway, but on another level, it’s all so well thought out and so incredibly well-played that it never failed to thrill, especially when you figure that the classical guitar segment was also supposed to be a bit of a chill room for the next song, the epic “Novemeber Rain”

“Double Talkin’ Jive”

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

The post Certain Songs #567: Guns N’ Roses – “Double Talkin’ Jive” appeared first on Booksquare.

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7. Certain Songs #566: Guns N’ Roses – “Sweet Child O’ Mine”

Guns Appetite For Destruction Album: Appetite For Destruction
Year: 1987

Right. This song. A number #1 hit single in 1988, which seemed a little weird even then, because it wasn’t like it as a slow power ballad, or even a conventional pop song that ended with the chorus repeating over and over again.

But what “Sweet Child O’ Mine” did have was loads of drama, and a weird seat-of-your pants feel to it that somehow connected deeply to just about anybody who heard it.

Of course, I could be reading too much into its origin story here. At this point who doesn’t know that Slash accidentally came up with that instantly familiar heart-rending riff while warming up, and Izzy Stradlin & Duff McKagan — especially Duff, whose bass during the opening is Mike Mills level of hook — encouraged him by working around it?

Not to mention the fact that Axl Rose was smart enough — or at least in a good enough mood — to write one of his more sappy lyrics around the whole thing. Right?

I mean, he could have just as easily been in a fight with Erin Everly and written the lyrics for “Back Off Bitch” that day, but instead she forever wins the “Greatest Love Song Written About A Specific Person Who Is The Daughter Of A Rock Legend” competition.

And adding to the seat-of-your pants feel of course, was the whole “where do we go from here” section, which even more than the forever riff or the lovely chorus, sealed the deal for the song, because that’s always the story of any relationship: what’s next? No one wants a dead shark on their hands.

Toss in Axl’s “hi-yiiides” and “mi-yinneees” and you got a song that rocks too much to be a power ballad, is too purty to be a straight metal song, with a guitar hook that Peter Buck or Johnny Marr could have written and an undeniable chorus that doesn’t get worn out.

It all adds up to a song that somehow became one of the most important things in the world during that awful summer of 1988.

Also: I still think the Miss Alans should have covered this, as I’m sure I kept telling them.

Official Video for “Sweet Child O’ Mine”
https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=sweet+child+o+mine

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

The post Certain Songs #566: Guns N’ Roses – “Sweet Child O’ Mine” appeared first on Booksquare.

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8. Certain Songs #565: Guns N’ Roses – “Paradise City”

guns paradiseAlbum: Appetite for Destruction
Year: 1987

Has there ever been a more perfectly crafted stadium rock song? Especially when you consider that it was by a band that hadn’t even come close to playing stadiums?

Sure, I guess you could make a case for “We Will Rock You / We Are The Champions,” but Queen were already huge by the time time News of The World came out, and I still think that “Paradise City” is — at the very least — more relatable. After all, very few of us well ever be champions, but we all got a shot at paradise.

“Paradise City” announces its intent for raised lighters from the opening chiming guitars and kick…snare, kick-snare from Stephen Adler, before launching into not into it’s riff, or its verses, but its chorus.

Because sometimes you need to lead with what’s going to get 60,000 people singing in unison from the very start.

Take me down to the paradise city
Where the grass is green and the girls are pretty
Take me home (oh won’t you please take me home)
Take me down to the paradise city
Where the grass is green and the girls are pretty
Take me home (oh won’t you please take me home)

And not only did “Paradise City” open up with its utopian chorus, there were enough harmonies — including that wonderful low voice — to instantly stick the song deep in your head almost instantly.

After that, Izzy Stradlin starts playing some chords, and there’s even a synth hanging out, as Slash sends some guitar notes heavenward before launching into the supersized churning AeroZep riff that powers the rest of song.

“Paradise City” is unlike the rest of the mostly dour Appetite For Destruction, and sounds more joyous than anything else in their catalog. Though of course, Axl has to toss in his counterpoint during the bridge that the Paradise City is “so far away,” but luckily we’re all listening to Slash’s circular riff that’s running across that bridge so we’re not really worring about what Axl has to say.

Which, come to think of it, is a pretty good policy in general.

After that, it’s all about the chorus. Let’s all sing! And just to make sure everybody in the whole stadium gets their money’s worth, “Paradise City” pretends like its ending, but instead, spends it’s last minutes barreling towards the paradise city like they’ve got a legion of cops on their trail and if then can just get there, they won’t get arrested.

So with Slash powering the car with the energy coming soloing his ass off and the rest of the band singing the chorus over and over, “Paradise City” reaches its goal of being the greatest stadium song ever, and collapses at the end, spent and happy.

“Paradise City”

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

The post Certain Songs #565: Guns N’ Roses – “Paradise City” appeared first on Booksquare.

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9. Certain Songs #564: Guns N’ Roses – “Welcome to the Jungle”

Guns Welcome tothejungle Album: Appetite for Destruction
Year: 1987

If I had to choose a year where I peaked out as an indie rock snob hipster douchebag, it was probably 1987. So if you were to tell me at any point that year that I would soon (or ever) be head-over-heels for a LA-based metal band, I would have laughed and laughed.

Right? While I still loved Led Zeppelin & Deep Purple & Black Sabbath and even saw Aerosmith in concert that year, I basically considered most of the contemporary metal of 1987 either a bunch of gussied-up pop crap or amelodic thrash. And don’t even get me started on grunge.

Guns N’ Roses changed that.

It took time, but my love of GN’R helped me realize that no genre of music is dead as long as it’s fresh and alive to the people who are playing it. So Appetite For Destruction somehow became the first new metal album I truly loved since Women And Children First, seven long years (and dozen musical lifetimes) previously.

It was probably the video for this song which did it. And it was probably the moment during the bridge, the slow “when you’re high, you never wanna come down” part that drew me into them.

I remember watching that at somebody’s apartment and thinking, “Well, this is unusual, and crazy-ass melodic to boot.” The videos loom large in the rise (and fall) of Guns N’ Roses, and figure prominently in my new favorite Guns N’ Roses theory: that Slash is a Time Lord.

By the way, I have a shitton of Guns N’ Roses theories, so many that I hope I remember them all during all of the posts, but for now, let’s just talk about the first thirty seconds of “Welcome To The Jungle,” which is now as iconic as hard rock gets.

First thing you hear is echoed guitar doubling and tripling back upon itself, and over that, a desperate guttural scream that lasts longer than you would expect, and then you hear a riff that clearly came from a lost Aerosmith album, simultaneously strutting and jaunty.

That’s now you open an album, kids.

The rest of “Welcome To The Jungle” backs up that opening promise: the backing “oohhs” during the chorus, the riffy guitar solo after the first verse, “sha-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-knees!” the gorgeous bridge, and of course:

You know where you are?
You’re in the jungle, baby!!
You’re gonna dieeeeeeee!

A long time ago, my buddy Jim and I had a theory that there really wasn’t a whole helluva lot of difference between Aerosmith’s Rocks and Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols, because both records were bathed in so much distortion and songs that had great endings.

Or something like that. It was a long time ago, in the early ’80s, after both bands had originally flamed out.

But one this is certain: Slash used his TARDIS to travel back to 1977 and come up with a bunch of great riffs with Joe Perry during one amazing high-grade coke-filled night, and while Aerosmith put out the subsequent album — also called Draw The Line — in some timelines, we ended up with our much weaker version version of Draw The Line.

Meanwhile, Axl Rose just borrowed Johnny Rotten’s sneer.

Combine them both, and you get Appetite For Destruction, which should have been wayyyy too late, but actually turned out to be just in time.

Official Video for “Welcome To The Jungle”

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

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10. Certain Songs #563: Guided by Voices – “How’s My Drinking?”

gbv isolation Album: Isolation Drills
Year: 2001

Of course, drinking is one of those things that is all bound up in the mythology of Guided by Voices, as anybody who has ever seen Robert Pollard on stage, chugging beer after beer in between (or during) his songs would know.

So figure “How’s My Drinking” to be Pollard’s version of “Here Comes a Regular,” a slow, sad ballad that takes a deep dark look at what he might be doing to himself.

Framed by a mournful organ that starts out as support and ends up taking over the entire song, Pollard confronts the audience that has absolutely enabled his self-destructive behavior:

How’s my drinking?
I don’t care about being sober
But I sure get around
In this town

Even on an album that is as lyrically straightforward as Isolation Drills (paging Dr. Freud: I just wrote “Isolation Drinks” there) “How’s My Drinking?” is a whole other level of honesty. And it only gets darker.

To hell with my church bells
And leave me die
With you
I won’t change

After that, Pollard doesn’t even have any more words, just moaning “oooooh-ooooh-ooooohs” over the rest of the song, as the rest of the music rises up to swallow his sadness.

“How’s My Drinking?” has the feel of something I might have written in my journal at 2:30 AM on many nights in the 1980s, after yet another unsuccessful night of attempting to drink her off of my mind, sadly scribbled in letters that are barely legible, and not even remembered until the next time I opened it up.

“How’s My Drinking?”

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11. Certain Songs #562: Guided by Voices – “Run Wild”

gbv isolation Album: Isolation Drills
Year: 2001

Just wanna to get some perspective here. Isolation Drills was the 12th studio album from Guided by Voices, not counting all of the singles, EPs, collections of ephemera and Robert Pollard solo albums that had come out in the second half of the 1990s.

So by this time, the song count was deep into the 100s, and yet, like I said yesterday, Isolation Drills might just be the best album Pollard ever released, and the an “Run Wild” is a key reason why.

With the guitars stacked six feet deep, and moving from a creep from the beginning to a multi-faceted roar at the end, “Run Wild” is really all about the anthemic chorus.

Leave your things in the streets
And run wild
And run wild
And run wild

That’s pretty much it. But of course it’s not it. Apparently, Isolation Drills was Pollard’s break-up album, so not only does “Run Wild” have a ton of hard guitar hooks, the last minute of the song is pure catharsis:

Leave your things in the streets
And run wiiiilld
And run willlllld
And run wiiiillllld
And run wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiillld
And run wiiiiiiiiiiiiiilllllld
And RUN wiiiiiiiiiiiilllld
And RUN wiiiiiiiiiiiillld
AND run wiiiiiiiiiiillld
AND run wiiiiiiiiiiilld
And run wiiiiiiiilllld

And as the guitars swell up and over his vocals, you can almost see him running down the street, arms waving, running wild and free.

“Run Wild”

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12. Certain Songs #561: Guided by Voices – “Glad Girls”

gbv isolation Album: Isolation Drills
Year: 2001

While Bee Thousand and Alien Lanes are always going to be sentimental favorites, the Guided by Voices album that would probably be seen as their best by any normal person would be 2001’s stellar Isolation Drills.

Starting off with the ringing roaring “Fair Touching,” Isolation Drills is where the big guitars of Mag Earwhig! meets the production values of Do The Collapse meets the crazy ass pop smarts of Alien Lanes.

And it has “Glad Girls,” perhaps the most joyous-sounding song Robert Pollard has ever recorded, where over skyward-reaching guitars and ex-Breeder Jim MacPherson’s relentless double-time drums, Pollard declares:

Hey, glad girls
Only want to get you high
Hey, glad girls
Only want to get you high
Hey, glad girls
Only want to get you high

And just in case you think that Pollard is giving you a warning because they only wanna get you high, well, just like The Who song that no doubt help to inspire “Glad Girls,” Pollard’s seen the kids, and guess what?

And they’re alright
And they’re alright
And they’re alright
And they’re alright

Look. While I’ll admit that because of the low-fi or because it’s hard to know where to start, or because of Pollard’s tendency to be non-linear with his lyrics, or because of the fake English accent in which he sings, maybe Guided by Voices ain’t for everyone.

Except for this song. I can’t imagine anyone who loves rock ‘n’ roll hearing “Glad Girls” and not falling straight in love with it.

Official Video for “Glad Girls”

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13. Certain Songs #560: Guided by Voices – “Things I Will Keep”

GBV Do The Collapse Album: Do The Collapse
Year: 1999

So on one hand, having abandoned the indie confines of Matador for the major-ish TVT and bringing a certified name producer whose name happened to be Ric Ocasek, Do The Collapse was clearly the Guided by Voices sellout album.

Especially since there was a whole two years between Mag Earwhig! and Do The Collapse. Gasp!

On the other hand, are you fucking kidding me? Despite the snoozy ballad “Hold On Hope,” Robert Pollard remained too idiosyncratic of a voice, his music too rooted in the past, his worldview too skewed sideways for any amount of spit and polish to breakthrough in the TRL era.

And for fuck’s sake, had songs like “Teenage FBI” or “Things I Will Keep” or even “Hold On Hope” become a bona fide hit single, that would have been so awful? I mean, imagine Robert Pollard being interviewed by Carson Daly in between Britney Spears and Blink-182 while teenage girls held “Teenage FBI” signs aloft and tell me that wouldn’t have been awesome.

Anyways, with former Breeders drum genius Jim MacPherson now powering the the whole band, Pollard finally had a drummer who could help him fulfill his fantasies of being The Who, so a song like “Things I Will Keep” was filled with rolls and builds and starts and stops on top of which Pollard sings some of my favorite Pollard nonsense.

To those with countless numbers
No cold or hot
Like things that I will keep
And hide them in my sleep

But that doesn’t even matter, because as the guitars ebb and flow on top of those drums, sometimes playing licks, sometimes playing the melody line as a solo, sometimes just playing chords underneath Pollard’s vocals, “Things I Will Keep” always keeps you guessing as to where it’s going next, even as it sticks deep in your head.

“Things I Will Keep”

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14. Certain Songs #559: Guided by Voices – “Jane of the Waking Universe”

GBV mag earwhig Album: Mag Earwhig!
Year: 1997

Of course, as a transition album, Mag Earwhig! wasn’t all immaculately-recorded songs featuring razor-sharp guitar lines and multiple-part song structures.

So for every Who-like “Portable Men’s Society,” there was a short & simple “I Am Produced;” for every shiny “I Am a Tree,” there was a fuzz-pop “Jane of the Waking Universe.”

Starting of with the title chorus, and featuring one last (for awhile anyways) Robert Pollard / Tobin Sprout harmony line, “Jane of The Waking Universe” would have fit on any of their previous albums, right down to the melody-line aping wah-wah solo which wriggles in halfway through.

But even with the guitars melded together into a distorted roar that had to completely stop just so the bass go squeeze in a hook, “Jane of The Waking Universe” fit in way more with Mag Earwhig! than Bee Thousand.

In a weird way, “Jane of The Waking Universe” had its foot in both doors: it was rough, unpolished, but still completely huge-sounding. And, naturally, sported the most memorable melody line on the entire album.

“Jane of the Waking Universe”

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15. Certain Songs #558: Guided by Voices – “I Am A Tree”

GBV mag earwhig Album: Mag Earwhig!
Year: 1997

I’m sure it seemed like an affront to worshipers of the lo-fi aesthetic for Robert Pollard basically sack the entire “classic” GBV lineup, recruit an entire new band (made up of Cleveland’s Cobra Verde), and record the majority of Mag Earwhig! in a real recording studio.

But to me, the thing I loved about Guided by Voices wasn’t the lo-fi aspect of their music, it was Pollard’s songs, and Mag Earwhig! had a healthy good dollop of his always reliable songwriting, as well as focused two guitar attack that was only previously hinted at.

The song that emphasized the latter as opposed to the former was Doug Gillard’s “I Am A Tree,” which starts off with a ringing, stinging twin-guitar part that is as unrelenting and sharp as a drill.

For better or worse, Guided by Voices sounded like an actual band — “I Am A Tree” had several different parts, stop times in the verses, and a long guitar solo, all of which sounded pretty fucking great, especially as they revved into the double-time as Pollard sang:

I am a tree, yeah
Fruitless and free, yeah
No symmetry, yeah

I should point out that this is all relative: nobody was going to mistake the sound here for Live or Creed or any of the super-slick post-grunge rock that was actually topping the charts. It felt way less like some kind of sell-out that Pollard proving once and for all that it was his vision and focus more than anything else that made his band so great.

“I Am a Tree”

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16. Certain Songs #557: Guided by Voices – “Look At Them”

gbv under the bushes Album: Under The Bushes Under The Stars
Year: 1996

After the twin triumphs of Bee Thousand and Alien Lanes, I was kind of disappointed with 1996’s Under The Bushes Under The Stars.

While it was sonically way more consistent that its predecessors, it didn’t have a lot of songs that immediately brought me into the record.

It also suffered from the packaging. As GBV fans undoubtedly know, it isn’t always easy to know which song you’re listening to from the lyrics, and because the CD packaging of Under The Bushes Under The Stars didn’t put numbers next to the songs on the back cover, it was sometimes hard for me to keep track of which song was which.

In addition, there were six songs at the end of the record that weren’t on the back cover at all! I hate that kinda shit. Tell me what’s on your fucking record, and in which order.

I realize that these things should have nothing to do with the listening experience, but I honestly think they did, as Under The Bushes Under The Stars remains my least favorite GBV record in their amazing 1992 – 2001 run.

That said, there still were a couple of songs that I loved — the anthemic “Big Boring Wedding,” Tobin Sprout’s “It’s Like Soul Man,” and the purely atmospheric “Look at Them,” which lays rock-solid staccato guitar chords over what sounds like an accidentally-discovered tape loop.

Musically, “Look at Them” conjures a series of icebergs floating on the horizon, especially when they double up the guitar at the beginning of the chorus.

And plus there is a flame
A flame that should be hot
In spite of being small, and being still
Following wherever you will

It helps, of course, that the second half of that chorus has one of Robert Pollard’s greatest melody lines, and when the whole song stops (except for that tape loop) so he can belt out “Following wherever you will,” its one of my favorite moments in their discography.

Also: because Under The Bushes Under The Stars didn’t have a lyric sheet, up until this very moment, I sang that last part as “Follow me wherever you will,” which I still like better.

After the second chorus, the icebergs pass over the horizon and into “The Perfect Life,” which — still over the tape loop — is minute some mostly random Tobin Sprout piano until it all just drifts away.

“Look At Them”

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17. Certain Songs #556: Guided by Voices – “King And Caroline”

GBV Alien-Lanes Album: Alien Lanes
Year: 1995

In 1995, Jim Greer basically beat every other rock critic ever by joining the band he helped mythologize.

After all, Robert Duncan never joined KISS, Lester Bangs never played with Lou Reed and Dave Marsh didn’t join the E Street band, but after Bee Thousand, Greer replaced Greg Demos as the bass player in Guided by Voices.

Now, to be honest, given the lo-fi tendencies of Guided by Voices, being their bassist isn’t the most high-profile gig. It’s not like he joining New Order or R.E.M. or something.

That said, the first time I actually noticed any bass part in a Guided by Voices song, it was Greer’s haunting work on “King & Caroline,” a gorgeous fragment of a song that is most just a chiming guitar, that lilting bass and Robert Pollard’s voice.

Oh, so now you know
We’re all standing in line
For the King and Caroline
And the wisdom they will sell us
And the wisdom they will sell

At 1:36, you can dismiss “The King & Caroline” as one of those song fragments that come out of nowhere on Alien Lanes to whet your appetite for, you know, the real songs.

That said, when at the end, the rest of the band chimes in — one at a time — on the word “sellllll,” you suddenly realize that GBV, at least, considers “King & Caroline” one of the real songs.

As will you when it gets stuck in your head.

“King & Caroline”

“King & Caroline / Motor Away” performed live on the Jon Stewart Show, 1995

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18. Certain Songs #555: Guided by Voices – “Motor Away”

GBV Alien-Lanes Album: Alien Lanes
Year: 1995

To be honest, I could probably do a half-dozen songs from Alien Lanes, so just because I’m not writing about songs like “As We Go Up, We Go Down,” “A Salty Salute,” “My Valuable Hunting Knife” or Tobin Sprout’s “Little Whirl” doesn’t mean I don’t love them, it just means that I’m probably already doing too many GBV songs as it is.

That said, there was no way I wasn’t going to write about the two minutes of power pop glory that is “Motor Away.”

Over churning guitars that sound like you just need to close the car windows to make them seem clearer, “Motor Away” is basically a cheerful-sounding break-up song.

When you motor away beyond the once-red lips
When you free yourself from the chance of a lifetime
You can be anyone they told you to
You can belittle every little voice that told you so

And then the time will come when you add up the numbers
And then the time will come when you motor away

It seems like he’s fighting against the tide here. He knows that the motoring away is going to happen, but he hasn’t quite come to terms with it, until he does. At that point, he pointedly asks.

“Oh, why don’t you just driiiiive awayyyyyyyyyyy?”

The second time Pollard sings that, he appends a joyful “c’mon!” to it, and with the guitars still churning, it looks like he’s the one who has decided to motor away.

Official video for “Auditorium / Motor Away”

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19. Certain Songs #550: Guided by Voices – “Hardcore UFOs”

GBV - Bee Thousand Album: Bee Thousand
Year: 1994

I’m pretty sure the first time I heard of Guided by Voices was by reading about them in SPIN, whose Senior Editor, Jim Greer, had just written a biography of R.E.M. I liked called Behind The Mask.

I don’t remember exactly what he wrote about GBV, I just remember there was a Jim Greer piece in SPIN that really made me want to hear them. Because that’s how we still discovered music in 1994: we found writers whose opinions we trusted, and triangulated their recommendations with our individual tastes.

But it just wasn’t Greer and SPIN. As a matter of fact, as the release of Bee Thousand became imminent, the advance buzz was so huge and overwhelming that in my review of the album for Kade Magazine, I wrote “at this point, it doesn’t even matter how good Bee Thousand actually is, cos there is now no question that Guided By Voices are going to be the next indie-rock superstars.”

That was a couple of months after I succumbed to the hype and bought it without having ever heard even a note of their of their music, and was instantly confronted with “Hardcore UFOs.”

Featuring a pair of spot-on 1990s guitars — one shimmering in the right speaker and one malfunctioning in the left speaker — a drummer that couldn’t even get going until halfway through the song, “Hardcore UFOs” could have turned me off of GBV right then and there.

Because, frankly, it’s a mess.

But it’s a beautiful, glorious mess, which starts with Robert Pollard and Tobin Sprout (I think) harmonizing in the middle of the chaos.

Sitting out on your house
Watching hardcore ufos
Drawing pictures, playing solos til ten

Are you amplified to rock?
Are you hoping for a contact?
I’ll be with you, without you, again

Hell, even the vocals get fucked up near the third verse, like somebody accidentally hit “record” on the four-track without protecting the vocal track and immediately realizing what he did, and everybody else was too drunk to notice.

Between that and the lead guitar — “lead” guitar because it’s the rhythm guitar that’s mixed the highest — that drops in and out of the mix throughout the song, and GBV became an instant standard-bearer for a certain kind of rock ‘n’ roll aesthetic that has always been dear to my heart.

And it ain’t lo-fi: to me the lo-fi was more of a necessary result of the thing I instantly loved about Guided By Voices — the way Bee Thousand felt like it was a bunch of friends hanging out and making music for the sheer fun of it, even if they weren’t particularly good musicians.

And in June of 1994, when Bee Thousand was released, it felt like that kind of spirit was in short supply. I mean, sure, there was Pavement or Archers of Loaf, but you could tell that they were slumming, and even the most off-handed moments of their music felt somewhat conceptualized. I mean, don’t get me wrong: I loved their concepts, but it always felt like every note & beat — even the bum ones — was right where it was supposed to be.

No so with GBV. They weren’t good musicians playing raggedy music, they were raggedy musicians reaching further than they could possibly grasp. And it was thrilling.

“Hardcore UFOs”

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20. Certain Songs #549: Guided by Voices – “Weedking”

gbv propeller Album: Propeller
Year: 1992

Like so many people, Bee Thousand was where I first heard Guided by Voices, and because of the beyond-indie nature of their back catalog, I’m not sure when I heard Propeller.

My guess is that I found it at Amoeba as part of the Vampire on Titus CD, which helpfully appended Propeller, but which also meant that the superior Propeller material showed up halfway through, and it took me a long time to figure out what was what.

But naturally, the song that first jumped out at me was the bigger than big “Weedking,” an exercise in pure forward momentum that musically belies what is probably a lyric about getting stoned.

Starting of with a quiet “Long live Rockathon” (their label) over swirling keyboards and a quiet guitar, “Weedking” gathers layers of guitars and vocals measure after measure, until suddenly the guitars are riffing riffing riffing as Pollard sings:

And watch colored lights shine down
Dancing round the lady’s face
As we learn the sound
We can’t keep this violent pace

Though we know that haste makes waste
And I’m giving you a ring
For the dreams of the weedking we all sing
For the dreams of the weedking we all sing
For the dreams of the weedking we all sing
For the dreams of the weedking we all sing

As Pollard repeats that last line — at one point substituting “drink” for “sing”, “Weedking” starts marching inevitably off of a cliff of its own making, as the guitars have stopped riffing and have started soloing as they tumble down down down falling falling falling until Pollard wakes up just before they hit the ground, shouting “Stop!”

“Weedking”

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21. Certain Songs #551: Guided by Voices – “Tractor Rape Chain”

GBV - Bee Thousand Album: Bee Thousand
Year: 1994

It starts out with just an acoustic guitar being ramdomly strummed in the corner of a room, as if Robert Pollard hasn’t quite worked out the song that the rest of the band — who are filing into the room and grabbing their instruments — are going to play next.

Suddenly, he finds a riff, and “Tractor Rape Chain” explodes into full-blown technicolor glory, guitars perfectly interlocked, drums right on the spot, and everything right with the world. Maybe this is low-fi, but it sure isn’t a song that was accidentally recorded.

This time, when the guitars pop-in-and-out of the mix, it’s for emphasis, not because there was a problem with the recording.

Meanwhile, Robert Pollard alternates verses about a relationship coming apart with a chorus about the furrows a tractor makes in a rapeseed field, sung at the very top of his range.

Parallel lines on a slow decline
Tractor rape chain
Better yet, let’s all get wet
On the tractor rape chain
Speed up, slow down, go all around in the end

I don’t know if that’s supposed to be some kind of metaphor, or if those were just some words that fit the melody that came to his head. Probably the latter.

All I know is that I loved guitar sound on the verses and the stop and build to the chorus. And I really loved the long, arcing melody line of that chorus, how it soared at the beginning, but somehow got almost sad by the time it was over.

And when he got hung up on “Speed up, slow down, go all around in the end”, so did I. That would be the part that I would sing over and over in my head after any time I listened to Bee Thousand.

“Tractor Rape Chain”

“Tractor Rape Chain” performed live in 2014

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22. Certain Songs #552: Guided by Voices – “Gold Star For Robot Boy”

GBV - Bee Thousand Album: Bee Thousand
Year: 1994

What does it mean to be friends with someone strictly over social media? I’ve been doing it for much of my life, and the process by which I end up deciding that words on a screen or a voice through a speaker means I’d probably enjoy hanging out with that person in real life (and vice versa) is still a bit of a mystery.

That said, because I’ve met so many amazing people this way, I’ve learned to trust in that mystery, because with very few exceptions, meeting those people face to face has turned out to be a delight.

When Rox & I went to Minneapolis-St. Paul & Chicago back in 2014, we hung out with people I’d met on Twitter in or while playing Fantasy Baseball or back in the day on Prodigy or event the CB radio. Scott & Larry & Kevin & Joey & Ranjit & Ann & Ira & Myra & Pat & Meg. That’s nearly 40 years of people who I otherwise would have never met.

Every single one of those people helped make that trip especially memorable. Oh, and The Replacements, as well. Who I got to meet in 1985 thanks to the social media known as College Radio.

So while meeting people is often the goal, there are still tons and tons of cool people I’m online friends with who I’ve never met in meatspace and yet still affected my life in very real ways. For example, Kathy Shine, who runs the Paul Westerberg, Man Without Ties website recommended to Gorman Bechard that I be interviewed for Color Me Obsessed, and now I have an IMDB page!

And then there is this: I basically stole borrowed the concept for “Certain Songs” from Noel Murray.

Back in 2008, Noel did an ongoing feature for the A.V. Club called “Popless.” The concept behind Popless was that he would refrain from listening to new music for a full year while he went through his record collection from A-Z, writing about the artists that struck him as key to his musical tastes.

It was basically the non-linear story of his life as a music fan.

This was, of course, during what some might call “the salad days” of The A.V. Club, and Popless attracted a fervent following of music nerds like me. Every week, we’d flood the comment boards, sharing our stories about the bands he wrote about that week.

And because Noel waded into and helped foster this community surrounding Popless, he was nice enough to do an interview for this very blog as Popless was winding down.

A year or so later, many of those same folks became part of a Twitter / Facebook cohort I dubbed “The A.V. Club Club”, and I’ve ended up meeting many of those people in real life as well, including the some of the folks I listed above.

Anyways, a month or so after that Replacements show, I was casting about for a reason to write regularly — without some kind of focus, I won’t do any writing at all, and not doing any writing at all affects, well, everything — so using Popless as a model, I hit upon the concept of writing about my favorite songs, roughly alphabetical by artist.

The non-linear story of my life as a music fan.

So what does any of this have to do with “Gold Star For Robot Boy,” a 99-second pop gem that’s full of stinging guitars, a typically catchy Robert Pollard vocal performance and drum rolls galore that are completely buried in the mix?

If I waited for you to show me
All the actions that i should take
Would i get my break?
Gold star for robot boy
And it’s one thing
And its something to do
The robot boy yeah

It has to do with one of the other bits I truly love about being friends with people online.

It’s that you often learn about their lives, 140 characters at at time. You can’t help it: people who only use Twitter to promote things and never interact with others aren’t really worth following (something I’ve very aware of even as I link to every single song I write about), and since I’ve always tended to enjoy writers who let me know who they are as a person in the course of their writing, Twitter has just amplified that.

It’s interesting to follow people throughout their trials and tribulations, their triumphs and their trajectories. Which brings us to #robotboy.

It’s no secret that Noel has a son who is on the autistic spectrum, and for years, he’s been tweeting or facebookin’ the things his son says or does. And every single one of those has the #robotboy hashtag.

Because, you know, this song.

Which I will never hear again without thinking of those tweets & posts, just I never read those tweets and posts without this song coming to my head.

The thing is, of course — and this will come as no surprise to anybody who knows me well — I usually relate to those tweets & posts a bit too much. Which makes me think about the probably half-dozen high-functioning things that I’m living with.

But, more importantly, it seems to me that “Gold Star For Robot Boy” represents how music has helped a father deal with and relate to a son facing challenges the father will never fully understand. Finally, Dad Rock!

So while I may never meet Noel in person, he still has my eternal gratitude for inspiring Certain Songs, just the writing of which has helped me keep it together during what was a (relatively) bad year of my life.

Gold star.

“Gold Star For Robot Boy”

“Gold Star for Robot Boy” performed live in 2011

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

The post Certain Songs #552: Guided by Voices – “Gold Star For Robot Boy” appeared first on Booksquare.

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23. Certain Songs #553: Guided by Voices – “I Am A Scientist”

GBV I am a Album: I Am A Scientist EP
Year: 1994

My theme song.

You have no idea how much I almost let that be the entire post. But I decided it wasn’t really fair to the song. Or to me, I guess.

Here’s the thing: when y’all have the party to celebrate my passing (currently scheduled for the 2070s), you can play pretty much any of the Certain Songs, but this is the only one I’m requesting, as not even Paul Westerberg wrote a lyric that I relate to as much.

I am a scientist
I seek to understand me
All of my impurities and evils yet unknown

I am a journalist
I write to you to show you
I am an incurable
And nothing else behaves like me

Of course, when you do play it, make sure you use the version on the I Am A Scientist EP, and not the one on Bee Thousand. I mean, the one on the album is fine and all, but the recorded-live-in-the-studio (by the incomparable Andy Shernoff) version is where the music is as powerful as the words.

And I know what’s right
But I’m losing sight
Of the clues
For which I search and choose to abuse
To just unlock my mind
Yeah, and just unlock my mind

On this version, the band is solid, the guitars are loud and Robert Pollard’s singing is forthright, as it damn straight better be as he sings the second verse knowing that he’s speaking not just for himself, but the people who somehow feel like his band have uncovered some new link to their own lost souls.

I am a pharmacist
Prescriptions I will fill you
Potions, pills and medicines
To ease your painful lives

I am a lost soul
I shoot myself with rock & roll
The hole I dig is bottomless
But nothing else can set me free

“The hole I dig is bottomless.” That was true. I was 31 when “I Am a Scientist” came out, and I’d been digging a rock & roll hole with my life for more than half of my life. Everything was about rock & roll. Spending all of my money on albums and shows and music books and magazines. Becoming a DJ and a clubrat and drummer and a writer — it was everything I was, and everything I ever wanted to be. A big dumb rock guy.

“But nothing else can set me free.” Maybe. But even in 1994, that was going away. After all, I didn’t want to be a DJ in the world of tight corporate playlists; I’d moved from my hometown club scene; I wasn’t a very good drummer; and every time I thought I was getting traction as a writer, something happened with the publication I was writing for.

So while I still believed that my life was saved by rock ‘n’ roll, I was beginning to wonder if it was also going to be ruined by it as well.

But here’s the thing: I was still trying. I was still trying to make shit happen with my life. Which is why I also related to the optimistic ending of “I Am a Scientist.”

Everything is right
Everything works out right
Everything fades from sight
Because that’s alright with me

After all, that whole World Wide Web thing I’d been reading about seemed interesting.

“I Am A Scientist” (EP version)

“I Am A Scientist” (Album version)

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

The post Certain Songs #553: Guided by Voices – “I Am A Scientist” appeared first on Booksquare.

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24. Certain Songs #554: Guided by Voices – “Closer You Are”

GBV Alien-Lanes Album: Alien Lanes
Year: 1995

After the electric shock recognition of Bee Thousand, I was way more prepared for the follow-up, 1995’s Alien Lanes, which crammed a completely ludicrous 28 songs into a 41-minute CD.

This kind of delicious overkill makes Alien Lanes if not the best Guided by Voices album, then definitely the most Guided by Voices album.

I seem to recall somebody somewhere comparing it to The Who Sell Out, and I like that comparison, but instead of mimicking a AM pirate radio station beaming the hits onshore, the experience of Alien Lanes is more like driving your car trying to tune in one of the local college radio stations, only you’re only able to get bits and pieces of each song, until you suddenly zero in on the greatest song you’ve never heard before that you might never hear again.

Like “Closer You Are,” where out of the murk comes super fuzzy guitars, and a couple of guys singing:

Chain smoke rings like a vapor snake kiss
She says, she don’t know why
The closer you are, the quicker it hits you
Closer you are, the quicker it hits you
Now you can see the boys dreaming, scheming

And you wonder, “where have I heard this before?” Because you’re already singing “the quicker it hits you” before you’ve even heard it the second time, but while you’re still trying to figure out if it’s some like mod band or something, the whole song stops for a second and one of the guys sings:

I get up at seven o’clock
And drive myself up to the Lookout Rock

And before you can go “wait, what?” they all dive back into the chorus.

The closer you are, the quicker it hits you
The closer you are, the quicker it hits you
Now you can see the boys dreaming, scheming

The closer you are, the quicker it hits you
The closer you are, the quicker it hits you

And then the song just ends, and something else starts — a slow droning thing — and you’re all “no, no, bring that back,” cos you’re worried that you’re never going to hear it again, because you’re going to lose the station before they back announce the songs, hell maybe you’ve already lost the station and you still have no idea who it even was.

And maybe you spend the rest of your life wondering what that song even was.

“Closer You Are”

“Closer You Are” performed live in 2010

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

The post Certain Songs #554: Guided by Voices – “Closer You Are” appeared first on Booksquare.

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25. Certain Songs #554: Guided by Voices – “Closer You Are”

GBV Alien-Lanes Album: Alien Lanes
Year: 1995

After the electric shock recognition of Bee Thousand, I was way more prepared for the follow-up, 1995’s Alien Lanes, which crammed a completely ludicrous 28 songs into a 41-minute CD.

This kind of delicious overkill makes Alien Lanes if not the best Guided by Voices album, then definitely the most Guided by Voices album.

I seem to recall somebody somewhere comparing it to The Who Sell Out, and I like that comparison, but instead of mimicking a AM pirate radio station beaming the hits onshore, the experience of Alien Lanes is more like driving your car trying to tune in one of the local college radio stations, only you’re only able to get bits and pieces of each song, until you suddenly zero in on the greatest song you’ve never heard before that you might never hear again.

Like “Closer You Are,” where out of the murk comes super fuzzy guitars, and a couple of guys singing:

Chain smoke rings like a vapor snake kiss
She says, she don’t know why
The closer you are, the quicker it hits you
Closer you are, the quicker it hits you
Now you can see the boys dreaming, scheming

And you wonder, “where have I heard this before?” Because you’re already singing “the quicker it hits you” before you’ve even heard it the second time, but while you’re still trying to figure out if it’s some like mod band or something, the whole song stops for a second and one of the guys sings:

I get up at seven o’clock
And drive myself up to the Lookout Rock

And before you can go “wait, what?” they all dive back into the chorus.

The closer you are, the quicker it hits you
The closer you are, the quicker it hits you
Now you can see the boys dreaming, scheming

The closer you are, the quicker it hits you
The closer you are, the quicker it hits you

And then the song just ends, and something else starts — a slow droning thing — and you’re all “no, no, bring that back,” cos you’re worried that you’re never going to hear it again, because you’re going to lose the station before they back announce the songs, hell maybe you’ve already lost the station and you still have no idea who it even was.

And maybe you spend the rest of your life wondering what that song even was.

“Closer You Are”

“Closer You Are” performed live in 2010

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

The post Certain Songs #554: Guided by Voices – “Closer You Are” appeared first on Booksquare.

0 Comments on Certain Songs #554: Guided by Voices – “Closer You Are” as of 1/1/1900
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