So, a couple of days ago I read this pretty intense post about Guided By Voices on I Could Die Tomorrow (really, check it out) and it got me thinking about GBV & why I listen to them and what goes on in my brain when I hear certain GBV songs.
So, here are three memories about three different Guided By Voices songs, originally written a few months ago, these thoughts & experiences still ring true for me.
The Goldheart Mountaintop Queen Directory
cold hands touching my face
don’t hide – the snake can see you
old friends you might not remember
fading away from you
Drew and I are lying in bed listening to Bee Thousand, we are not talking. When “The Goldheart Mountaintop Queen Directory” starts, Drew breaks the silence by saying, “I heard he wrote this about an acid trip.” Suddenly the lyrics seem a lot more sinister. I can hear the recorder being played in the background and am ripped in two, thinking of two entirely different things. 1) Is this recorder left over from Pollard’s days as an elementary school teacher? 2) Ang, slumped on the floor of the Cardboard Mansion, her tiny hands wrapped around an old Cleveland Browns mug filled with rum. “I think you should do acid, I really think you could handle it.” Britt sitting up sharply, her pigtails askew and her face unwashed, “Ang, Kathee could handle anything.
(For a completely different take, see this video of a German choir performing the song.)
I am a Scientist
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
My bedroom windows face the east and the room is filled with harsh morning light when Drew places his hand on the back of my neck and pulls me into a kiss. “I am a Scientist” is on the stereo. I should be thinking about this kiss — one of the first in a new relationship — but instead I am thinking about riding in the car with my aunt, how she put a cassette in and said, “This is my favorite band. I love them more than I’ve ever loved any other band before, ever,” and I thought she was being ridiculous, but then this song started and by the time it was over, I found myself thinking, “This is my favorite band, I love them more than I’ve ever loved any other band before, ever.” I was in elementary school.
I am a Tree
i am a tree – counting my rings will do no good
i won’t live long but I would be with you if I could
when you take flight, remember me to one who lives there
since you have flown, there’s something special in the air
It is Thanksgiving and my dad is drunk. Drew and I are the last to get to my aunt’s house for dinner and my dad has put himself in charge of the stereo. He points toward Mark’s CDs, his finger indicating the Hardcore UFOs box set and he says, “I used to own that, I won it here, at a raffle.” He pauses, taking a big swig from a bottle of Chimay and says, “Gave it back, though. There was only one song I really liked — Pollard didn’t even write it.” Drew is working hard to make conversation, I know my dad makes him nervous and I am on edge, “Really? What song?” My dad is unsure — there are so many, he says — but he settles on “I am a Tree.” “This one,” he says, “this one.” And he starts it, mimes playing the first few riffs, and Drew’s face lights up — “That’s one of my favorites too!”