Wonders: Tractor Rape Chain

September 20, 2007 at 11:29 am 2 comments

“Tractor Rape Chain” is the third track on the seminal Bee Thousand. It is my favorite Guided By Voices song of all time. Much has been written about this song by others, but I’ll write what it means to me. Because it’s my blog.

Even though I’ve been listening to Guided By Voices for about ten years now, I only picked up Bee Thousand about two years ago. It is now one of my favorite albums of all time – so much so that whenever I see it used at a record store I feel the impulse to pick it up.

The entire album is a one of the greatest rock records of all time, no doubt. But something about the third track really struck me, and made me listen to it on repeat over and over.

Lyrics and more after the jump.

The acoustic guitar intro (with Bob or someone heard saying “come in” in the background, as a screen door squeaks) feels like the most welcome opening to a song ever. Its a personal invitation from Bob!

Why is it every time I think about you
Something that you have said or implied makes me doubt you
Then I look into your cynical eyes and I know it
As if it never meant anything to me.

I was going through an insanely difficult break up during this time… definitely one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to go through in my life. So it was hard for me not to think of my ex-girlfriend when that opening line comes on. Maybe that is what drew me into the song so much in the first place.

Parallel lines on a slow decline – tractor rape chain
Better yet, let’s all get wet on the tractor rape chain
Speed up, slow down, go all around in the end

I’ve always thought the first line of the chorus was the perfect metaphor for a relationship slowly crashing in on itself. Again, the context of the situation I was in probably added a lot of meaning to almost anything.

In the first place it’s probably just paranoia
But there’s a ghost in my room and he says I better run
It’s a thing I know – It’s a thing I believe in
Won’t you tell it to go away?

“But there’s a ghost in my room and he says I better run” makes me think of the ghosts we all carry around. When I was locked in my room listening to this song, everything around me felt like they were ghosts of something that I had and lost. I ended up throwing a lot of things away to try and get rid of that feeling, but it stayed with me. “Won’t you tell it to go away?”

Parallel lines on a slow decline – tractor rape chain
Better yet, let’s all get wet on the tractor rape chain
Speed up, slow down, go all around in the end
Speed up, slow down, go all around in the end

The last two lines remind me of how futile things can be in the end. No matter what you do, how bad or good things can be, you can end up disappointed. Either someone disappoints you, or you disappoint yourself. But at the end of the day, you are back where you started.

“Tractor Rape Chain” is the most haunting Guided By Voices song for me, but it doesn’t stop me from listening to it. All those feelings I had during my introduction to this song (and album) feel like old friends to me now.

You can listen to “Tractor Rape Chain” on this GBV Myspace page.

Thank to GBVDB for the lyrics.

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Entry filed under: Guided By Voices, Music, Wonders.

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2 Comments

  • 1. Kiala  |  September 20, 2007 at 1:05 pm

    Tractor Rape Chain is the song that made me fall in love with GBV. And, oh God, did it ever hurt and help me when my marriage ended. GBV therapy!

  • 2. Robert  |  September 20, 2007 at 1:31 pm

    Uncle Bob (aka Dr. Unk) knows how to heal ya. He shoots you with rock and roll.


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