(This is my first post to a continuing series on Blogcritics called The Listening Room, the brainchild of DJRadiohead, one of my favorite BC writers. It’s basically a piece about earworms, those songs that wind up stuck on seemingly infinite loop in your head, or maybe just those extra special songs that merit some deeper exploration. When I make a submission, I may be posting slightly longer versions here on my site, and, sometimes, like today, with a special little bonus like the bootleg recording of the song in question.)
“Don’t Stop Now” from Under The Bushes, Under The Stars, by Guided By Voices
Among dozens of equally powerful, tight songs under Bob Pollard’s belt, it could be the immediacy of that simple guitar hook that starts this song that grabs listeners, but really it’s more that there’s a rare vulnerability in Pollard’s voice in this particularly simple tune.
Pollard confronts â€œBig Daddy,â€ a local rooster with whom he holds a long-standing grudge, strutting nonchalantly around with a six-pack ring around his neck, but it’s really about the band transitioning from local indie act to focus of national attention. GBV becomes, in a sense, Big Daddy in an industry that cares little about anything but the bottom line. Pollard’s six-pack ring: get his songs to more people while keeping the GBV identity strong. This is his anthem – “Don’t Stop Now,” a rallying cry for more. And there was – a lot more.
In 1996, Guided By Voices was on the verge of being lifted out of a life of obscurity in Dayton, Ohio. It’s easy to hear in the lyrics and his voice the sound of a man possibly leaving behind a life he was comfortable with. He’d quit his job as a school teacher to go on the road to rock â€“ his dream job â€“ but with it came a fear of the unknown. More than 10 years on, it’s obvious that Pollard has done just fine as an ex-teacher.
Guided By Voices is now a memory as he continues his solo career, but thanks to a fan-friendly taping/trading policy, we have this live take of the song in question to cherish forever.