Wonders: GBV’s Sister I Need Wine and Frostman

April 23, 2008 at 12:56 pm 7 comments

I will be writing this entire post without the use of commas. May god have mercy on my soul.

I was working at Ground Kontrol the day Isolation Drills came out and I told the guy I was with to watch the counter while I ran down to Ozone to pick it up.

We put the album on and listened to it a while. My only exposure to GBV at this time was their slickly produced Do the Collapse and a copy of Sunfish Holy Breakfast a coworker let me borrow. Me and my coworker were talking about the album when he mentioned that Robert Pollard had just got divorced. I was reading the back of the album and saw the song “Sister I Need Wine” and immediately thought I saw a correlation.

Now that I’ve listened to this album for years and years I’m not so sure what I think. Other songs on the album such as “How’s My Drinking” celebrate his iron liver. “Sister I Need Wine” gives an image of someone struggling through feelings brought on by abandonment and conflict. The last verse is neither victory nor defeat as the song ends too soon for the listener to know if all that wine worked.

Sister I need wine
For color in my skin
And darkness for my eyes
But I can see the light burn through
Still it is the night brings me to you

Sister use your gift
The backed up river spreads
On ground for fighting words
And I am hating the ignorance in my body
And I can’t feed on the heaviness
Sister I need you

And we will dance for gold
And straddle the hour of fear
And learn the real story
Drink the truth
Shed not one tear

The other short song on the album actually comes before “Sister I Need Wine.” “Frostman” precedes “Twilight Campfigter” and is only 55 seconds long. The reason I am grouping these songs together as they both feel like poetry set to simple guitar. They are also both awesome lead-ins to much bigger songs on the album. I can’t imagine listening to “Frostman” without it leading into “Twilight Campfighter” or “Sister I Need Wine” without it leading into the confrontational “Want One?”. All four of these songs act as a testament that sequencing an album is an art itself. (A really good story on the excellent sequencing of Bee Thousand is in 33 1/3’s book).

Frostman says the summer needs to wait for you
Frostman says the wintertime is blue
Oh frostman I’m with you
Even when the sun shines
Even when the winter comes

A longer version of Frostman is coming as a b-side to the final Happy Jack Rock Records singles in May. It will be interesting to see if it works well or if it is like a really good short film bloated into an unsatisfactory feature.

Oh man! That was murder. I just reread the post and I sound like a caveman grunting his way through a dissertation. I’m going to give this first comma-free post a 4 out of 10.

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Entry filed under: Comma Problem, Guided By Voices, Wonders.

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7 Comments

  • 1. Sis  |  April 23, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    Never heard or listened to this album the lyrics in “Sister I need wine” is very telling. Without saying it, it answers about the wine. It will never tell you the truth or fill the void.

  • 2. melissalion  |  April 23, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    Ground Kontrol? The arcade in Portland with beer?

  • 3. Robert  |  April 23, 2008 at 2:44 pm

    Sis: But wine is quite delicious.. I think you know from experience. RECENT experience?!

    Melissa: Yes. I worked there for 3 years (2000 to 2003), but before the current owners had it, and before they served beer. It was on 12th and Stark back then, and much smaller, and we sold bootleg cds and records as well. And we only had old school games, nothing new. I wish I had pictures from back then… in the day!

    I still know know one of the guys who took over the place, but I haven’t been up there in years.

  • 4. Kiala  |  April 23, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    I remember when you had a party at Ground Kontrol once and it was sponsored by Captain Morgan’s rum and they were giving away key chains and you took some for yourself and then kept yelling, “I’ve got pirates in my pockets!”

    Ok, Dave actually told me that story. I wasn’t there. But I wish I had been.

  • 5. Dave  |  April 23, 2008 at 8:22 pm

    Those Bar Fly parties at Ground Kontrol were completely unhinged. Booze all over the games, bands playing, people making out in Pole Position. Somehow I ended up working the register and the coat check.

  • 6. Robert  |  April 24, 2008 at 9:46 am

    The first year, Betty got so drunk she locked her keys in the office, and she had no way to lock up the place, so she took a hammer and knocked down the office door.

    I wish I could have seen it, but if I was there then I would have had keys. Catch 22!

  • […] song “Twilight Campfighter.” I’ve written about “Frostman” before here. The longer version released as a B-side to Robert Pollard’s “Miles Under the […]


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