Known Johnson

June 2, 2005

Sing for your meat

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tom @ 10:29 pm

It’s time to offer up a goodie to all the loyal readers out there. Yep, all eight of you! It’s been a while, but I’ve been saving up the good stuff, and here’s the first offering: Guided By Voices, live in Athens, Georgia, Nov. 3, 2004, direct from the soundboard, one of my favorite songs of theirs, Girls of Wild Strawberries (sorry, it’s been removed. You had your chance!) Bootlegs don’t get much better than this.

Guided by Voices, for the unitiated: imagine the Who in the 90s, but only recording exactly what pops into their heads at any given moment onto whatever medium they happen to have handy – four track, eight track, whatever. It’s rough stuff – GbV mastermind Robert Pollard records whatever brilliant snippet of song he comes up with, and generally that’s it, even if it sounds like a demo. Really, it’s part of the charm of Guided By Voices – you’re listening strictly for the immense songwriting capability of Pollard, not for great recording techniques. That one man can churn out such an unbelievably vast number of songs is fascinating – almost as fascinating as his abilty to consistently write amazing songs. They may not make literal sense – Pollard is gifted with the ability to find intriguing combinations of words, and his even greater gift is the ability to lend emotion to what would normally sound meaningless in other singer’s voices. In Itunes right now I have 400 songs recorded by Pollard that date back to 1987 (either with GbV or solo – you quickly learn with this band that it doesn’t matter: GbV is Pollard). And I only have about half of what this guy’s put out. The point is, how many artists do you know that not only put out music at the rate he does – dozens of songs a year, essentially – and an overwhelming number of them are great?

Here’s to one musician that is truly deserving of great praise. Guided by Voices may no longer exist (disbanded by Pollard on New Year’s Eve 2004,) but it doesn’t matter: Pollard will continue to turn out exactly what he wants, whether it be under one name or another. And it’s quality stuff.

(If you like this track, I highly recommend starting your journey down the very extensive path to becoming a GbV fan by picking up their farewell album, Half Smiles of the Decomposed, from which the original version of this song comes. You will not be sorry.)

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