I currently have 1.2 days worth of Guided By Voices (GBV) content in my iTunes. The collection consists of full-lengths, EPs, live performances, and demo sessions. As time passes, my fondness for the group of lo-fi drinking buddies from Dayton grows. Most of their songs are brief snippets from the mind of front man Robert Pollard. GBV has spanned multiple decades while hosting a roulette of lineups. Somehow with all of their moving pieces, GBV has been oddly consistent. Throughout this constant transformation, Pollard has never let go of the core values of their band. GBV has always been loyal to their attitude and sound. Partying in basements until the crack of dawn while banging on electric guitars might seem juvenile, but the results have remained brilliant over the years. It is this loyalty to youthful behavior that has been embraced by their followers. Their “last” tour was suppose to occur in 2004 and many host cities, including Bloomington, Indiana dedicated their final tour stop as “Guided By Voices Day.” This is the type of influence that could make Pollard the easy vote for mayor in many progressive cities throughout the country, or at least everyone’s favorite bartender.
Pollard has always managed to maintain GBV’s authenticity while creatiting some of the best titles for songs that I have ever come across. “Gold Star for Robot Boy”, “My Valuable Hunting Knife”, “Zoo Pie”, and “Deathtrot And Warlock Riding A Rooster” are just a few of my favorite titles that come to mind. Please visit Jeff Warren’s Guided By Voices Database to gain a sense of the staggering size of the band’s catalog. The site also showcases the rabid dedication of GBV’s fan base. This database currently lists 1739 GBV songs in existence, most of which will grab your attention just by reading their titles. Their latest song “The Unsinkable Fats Domino” not only holds a spot for possible favorite title, but also gives GBV nation a special gift. “The Unsinkable Fats Domino” release displays the first new song by the original lineup since their last release in 1996 “Under the Bushes.” This brilliant, witty track is the lead single from their upcoming release Let’s Go Eat the Factory. While the title of the track is appealing, its story is even better.
Pollard and the gang decided to do what they do best and use current events to tell an amazing story. Legendary musician, Fats Domino was born, raised, and has called New Orleans home since 1928. A dedicated man not only to his music, but also his home, Fats was one of the many Crescent City residents who refused to evacuate during Hurricane Katrina. Because Fats’ home was completely flooded in one of the worst areas hit many dedicated fans thought Fats had been taken by the storm.
Initial reports indicated that Fats Domino had died. CNN quickly straightened things out with a story that brought relief to masses of music fans around the globe. Contrary to previous reports, Fats had been rescued by the Coast Guard along with the members of his family. A brilliantly buoyant story told to us by GBV.
I think this story is absolutely amazing and I honestly never heard about it until GBV chose to document it. Fats persistence and loyalty made him unsinkable despite one of the most awesome hurricanes this country has ever seen. GBV gives us an unbelievable story with an amazing name. This song is an anthem. This is an ode to the fight and desire of a living legend. While Pollard might not be held in the same breath as Fats Domino by most, I recognize him as such. After countless beers, thousands of cigarettes, and dozens of releases, I hope someone writes a song about him. “The Unsinkable Robert Pollard.”
Written by Brett McGrath