Dear reader, life is too short for crap books.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Nothing Else Behaves Like Me

Guided By Voices: A Brief History: Twenty-One Years of Hunting Accidents in the Forests of Rock and Roll by James Greer

The Goods: Guided By Voices was, for all practical purposes, a rock and roll band from Dayton, Ohio led by a former elementary school teacher named Bob Pollard. They are best known for their prolific output, their absurdly short songs with nonsensical yet strangely evocative lyrics, their constantly rotating line-up, their electrifying live shows, and their love of beer.

Bands as the subject of biography tend to fall somewhere within what I like to think of as the 'VH1 Behind the Music Go-Go's to Goo Goo's Rock Scandal Continuum.' At one end of the spectrum you have bands whose appeal as the subject of documentary lies largely in their drug habits and abuse of groupies. At the other end, you have the drama that focuses on in-fighting and getting screwed over by one's record label.

Both are appealing, in their way, although the drugs are usually more interesting.

Guided By Voices falls somewhere in the middle of said Continuum, having nothing that qualifies as a true SCANDAL on either side, but flirtations with both. That said, if you pick up the book thinking, "Oooh, Guided By Voices. I hear they drank a lot and fought with Kim Deal, and Bob Pollard kicked people out of the band just for looking at him funny," you will be sorely disappointed.

Sure, there are tons of great 'drink was involved' stories. It's just that they're probably not much crazier than your own 'drink was involved' stories. And I suppose that is part of the great appeal of Guided By Voices - the sense that despite their brilliance as musicians, you might have done a kegstand with them in high school.

If you're looking for high throttle Cobain-style drama, this is not the place. However, if you are the kind of person who enjoys having a few pitchers with friends and debating the exact moment that Matador began to go downhill or whether "Sweet Child of Mine" or "Welcome to the Jungle" is, in fact, the finer Guns N' Roses song, this book is for you.

And, by the way, the correct answer is "Sweet Child of Mine."

1 comment:

brady said...

In point of fact, it is "Welcome to the Jungle." Unless you are a mouthbreathing charity case, it is the only reasonable conclusion.