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April 26, 2004

RIP GBV, Long Live Bob Pollard

Late Saturday night, Bob Pollard (the musician, not real estate salesman) announced that come 2005, Guided By Voices will no longer exist as a recording or touring entity. Pollard will continue to record and tour as a solo artist.

This sounds like bigger news than it is. Since Tobin Sprout left the band in 1996, Guided By Voices has been Robert Pollard. He's written the music and lyrics almost exclusively (with the exception of Doug Gillard's "I Am A Tree"). Members of the band have been hired and fired on his whim, and every GBV album has essentially been a Pollard solo album.

All things considered, though, I expected this ending to affect me more. Guided By Voices was the first band for whom I held a fanatical fervor. Between 1994 and 1996 I rearranged business trips, vacations and long weekends to see the band at least ten times a year. The shows were inspired mayhem, the very essence of what I felt rock and roll should be at the time. Clever lyrics built around poppy melodies, every song begged to be sung with a beer in one hand and your other arm around a fellow fan..

When Pollard hired Cobra Verde as his band for Mag Earwhig! I gave him the benefit of the doubt. Unfortunately, for me at least, the sweet songwriting counterpoint that Tobin Sprout added to the band was sadly missed, and Pollard started his move toward more rock and prog, and less of the pop masterpieces that I adored appeared in the following albums.

I started seeing less shows by the band, even missing a hometown show literally down the street (I was living in Salt Lake City at the time) because someone else I'd rather see was playing across town. The recent albums, though stellar in parts, ceased to earn their way into my playlists. Pollard's side projects suffered the same fate. Slowly I came to the realization that once again, I didn't have a favorite band.

The magic that is Propeller, Vampire on Titus, Bee Thousand, Alien Lanes, Under The Bushes, Under The Stars still moves me. I play these albums and am transported to a time and place where I hung on every note. This Bud's for you, Bob, you are a stellar songwriter, and gave me some of the best musical moments of my life.


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