Top 10: Pollard songs around a minute long

December 1, 2008 at 10:51 pm 2 comments

Image Credit: Aquarium Drunkard

Robert Pollard is famous for having (literally) suitcases full of songs. Some of the most common criticism is his lack of self-editing. They are wrong! He self-edits all the time, then lets the hardcore purchase all the edits in the Suitcase boxsets and albums like Superman Was a Rocker.

I thought I would gather ten of my favorite songs that clock in under or around one minute. Other artists might have edited these right out of their album, but then we would be missing a lot of pop gems. Let’s begin! (after the jump)

10. “Soft Smoke” from Speak Kindly of Your Volunteer Fire Department by Robert Pollard and Doug Gillard

Clocks in at: 50 seconds

More like a weird spoken poem to sparse acoustic guitar in the background, this song is plunked down right in the middle of Speak Kindly… and it is a perfect substitute to the sorely missing Side A/Side B balance you get with vinyl.

9. “Soggy Beavers” from Suitcase 2: by Robert Pollard

Clocks in at: 46 Seconds

The precursor to the wonderful “Soggy Beavers” from Boston Spaceships’ Brown Submarine. Lots of little lyrical changes – too bad most of them are lost in the up front guitar. I mostly included this because I really wanted to add something from Suitcase, and Boston Spaceships’ version rocks so hard.

8. “Wire Greyhounds” from Universal Truths and Cycles by Guided By Voices

Clocks in at: 35 seconds

The opener off Universal Truths… almost plays like an apology to longtime fans for their previous two records on TVT (which I am most others are very fond of). Opening with a more “classic” GBV shorty let fans know they were back in form.

Pollard uses his often cited ghosts in the third line: “Breath woman captures a ghost”

7. “Hit” from Alien Lanes by Guided By Voices

Clocks in at: 23 seconds

Alien Lanes contains SEVEN songs that are under a minute, and each one is awesome. I had to include “Hit” because of the succinct lyrics and the awesome lead in to one of the greatest songs of all time, “My Valuable Hunting Knife.”


This is called “the coming of age”
Coming into town with the giggling faggots
Starting blizzards and other weird weather patterns
We participate in the shit

Now that’s a hit
Now that’s a hit! 

6. “Tomorrow You May Rise” from Tower in the Fountain of Sparks by Airport 5

Clocks in at: 1:05

My only song over a minute! But I had to include this beautiful song from Airport 5. Organs rise behind the hauntingly hollow recording of Pollard singing the last three lines: “stand up crying, don’t bend / you are not lost in the present / tomorrow you may rise.” This is an absolutely perfect song.

5. “Tropical Robots” from Hold on Hope EP by Guided by Voices

Clocks in at: 51 seconds

A simple and fun song that exhibits some of those shorter songs I mentioned that were missing from albums like Do the Collapse. A little ditty about tropical robots out having fun, like they do.

4. “Frostman” from Isolation Drills by Guided by Voices

Clocks in at: 56 seconds

Another perfect lead-in to an equally fantastic 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 Skin” is just as good as the short version. (And still available: buy it here)

3. “Evil vs. Evil” from Blues and Boogie Shoes by Keene Brothers

Clocks in at: 50 seconds

Another short opener that turns it up before taking a step back with “Death of the Party.” Powered by Keene’s slick guitars and Pollard’s urgent delivery, this song gives you two of the best match-ups in history: hero vs. mirror, digit vs. eyeball.

2. “They’re Not Witches” from Alien Lanes by Guided by Voices

Clocks in at: 51 seconds

Had to throw another in from Alien Lanes, and this one is so sweet it has to be my favorite from the album that is under a minute. (I figured I’d be pushing it if I added “A Good Flying Bird” which is 1:08). The whole song makes me think of putting someone to bed who woke up from a nightmare. It has a placating effect (before launching into “As We Go Up, We Go Down.”)

1. “You’re Not an Airplane” from Bee Thousand by Guided by Voices

This is the last song on Bee Thousand, and it sort of perfectly sums up the experience you’ve had listening to the album. A simple piano in the background with these lyrics:

Come on now and see the course
That never fields the game of choice
And cold allies of steel
Couldn’t buy the way it feels
Rusty and divided steel
The race is yet to come

Promises of more to come – what a perfect way to end one of the best albums of all time.

What did I miss? Lots of gems from Psycho and the Birds and Circus Devils. Sue me.

Have you read this far? I’m really impressed! Now I’m dying for you to share with me some of your favorite songs under a minute from any artist.


Entry filed under: Dork Alert!, Guided By Voices, High Kicks, Music. Tags: , , , .

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  • 1. Robert  |  December 6, 2008 at 5:02 pm

    Hey Robert, I thought of a good one!

    “Barnyard” on Brian Wilson’s Smile! That song rules and clocks in at 58 seconds!

    “Out in the barnyard, the chickens drew their number. Out in the barnyard, the cook is chopping lumber.”

  • […] are other top 10 short songs lists around (such as this one featuring not a single song I’ve ever heard of) but I can guarantee that my list is the best! Or at least very good! Or pretty nice, at the very […]

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