5 Songs / Guided By Voices Songs that Reveal the Meaning of Life Probably

5 Songs is a weekly series where we point out the strange, the grand, and the unique connections between our favorite songs. Let’s get weird.

Words by Chris

The king of the garage bands. It’s almost like they’re too drunk to realize they might be the greatest songwriters of the last 25 years. Oh, wait.

“A Salty Salute” / Alien Lanes

Guided by Voices / A Salty Salute

If Guided by Voices was a club where all the sour-hearted working class romantics could go when they feel fucked-up, this is the undeniable theme song. “Proud brothers, do not fret. The bus will get you there yet to carry us to the lake. The club is open.” God, I wish it was true.


“Motor Away” / Alien Lanes

Guided by Voices / Motor Away

This song is every moment of blind strength you’ve ever had, with the perfect mixture of jilted love and courage in the face of fear or naysayers. It’s about making the tough decision for the kid, whatever that might be. The song is not afraid to urge you to make that choice: “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. So why don’t you just drive away?” I can assure you that this is good advice.


“The Official Ironman Rally Song” / Under the Bushes Under the Stars

Guided by Voices / The Official Ironman Rally Song

“To dine alone. To build a private zone, or trigger a synapse and free us from our traps.” Phew. If you’re from a working class town, you are this song. The rest of you can piss off.


“The Finest Joke Is Upon Us” / Mag Earwhig!

Guided by Voices / The Finest Joke Is Upon Us

This methodical little number is a little vague, but like all great GBV songs, the power comes from the idea of coming-to-grips with mortality or the hardship of simply being born into hardship, “Paradise is open but I choke. One of these days, when I see through the smoke, that’ll be the day I get the joke.”


“I Am a Scientist” / Bee Thousand

Guided by Voices / I Am a Scientist

I’d be a crook not to include this song, which somehow includes every conceivable situation in life. If I could explain what this song means, then I would not be writing anymore, I would just go off and raise cattle or some shit. “Everything is right. Everything works out right. Everything fades from sight. Because that’s all right with me.” Amen.


What GBV songs have changed your life? Aw shucks, just tell us us some of your favorite GBV songs and what they mean to you and that’ll be close enough.


9 Responses to “5 Songs / Guided By Voices Songs that Reveal the Meaning of Life Probably”

  1. This is fan-freakin’-tastic!

  2. Awesome. Every time you listen to a GBV song, it will be some of the best 90 seconds of your life. Some of my other favorites:

    Game Of Pricks
    Big Boring Wedding (seriously, pass the word, the chicks are back!)
    Don’t Stop Now
    My Valuable Hunting Knife
    Auditorium
    We’ve Got Airplanes

    Go listen to all of these.

  3. LOVETHIS!!!!

  4. Best of GBV is as follows:

    Exit Flagger
    Unleashed! The Large Hearted-Boy
    Why Did You Land?
    Expecting Brainchild
    “Wished I Was A Giant”
    Gleemer
    Ghosts Of A Different Dream
    Acorns & Orioles
    Smothered In Hugs
    I Am A Scientist
    Motor Away
    Game Of Pricks
    Huffman Prairie Flying Fields
    Teenage FBI
    The Goldheart Mountaintop Queen Directory
    I Am A Tree

    GBV 4-ever

  5. Alone, Stinking, and Unafraid
    It Is Divine
    Pendulum
    Hank’s Little Fingers

  6. *cool off kid kilowatt (“picked to finish last/ I will speed my way past”) – so triumphant!
    *the winter cows (my fav)
    *game of pricks (“you can never be strong / you can only be free” – no truer words were ever spoken. it’s life in a nutshell)
    *real
    *pendulum
    * maxwell jump
    * cliffs of heaven’s edge
    * dusted

  7. Indian Was An Angel

  8. I second Winter Cows!

  9. Oh man, this is great. The best GBV songs are the ones where you wish they lasted minutes longer (as in that first song off of Universal Truths and Cycles that only lasts 30 seconds or so), but Pollard has a knack of giving you just enough where you’re always coming back for more.

    Man Called Aerodynamics
    Quality of Armor
    Watch Me Jumpstart
    My Soon Cool
    Gold Star for Robot Boy
    Weedking
    Little Lines
    Chasing Heather Crazy
    Subspace Biographies (I know…Pollard solo, but it still may be his best)

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