My Top 1000 Songs #91: I Am A Scientist

Guided by Voices were right up there with bands like Pavement and Yo La Tengo in setting the tone for my 90s listening habits (and on into the present day). And while frontman Robert Pollard currently has some 2500 songs to his name (whether with GbV or as a solo artist or with countless side projects), at least according to his registry in the BMI music publishing database, "Scientist" was my entry-point into what's become an overwhelming (and expensive) bit of fandom.

As a brief snippet of lo-fi recording, it's obviously not "better" in objective terms than a lot of what's still to come on this list; but in capturing a particular moment in time, it has a lot of emotional heft for me. Indeed, it's as much a rock anthem as something offered by the Clash, but in lieu of ferocity and fist-pumping emotion there's understated indie rock getting by on fumes and audaciousness. Stripped of the adornments of fancy (or, well, any) production values, it's just a basic riff, yet something that on very first listen struck me as something I absolutely must have heard a hundred times before because it was so hauntingly familiar and instantly winning. And the lyrics are the usual reliable Pollard mix of the opaque and the profound.

One couplet hit me particularly hard, something that perfectly captured my sensibilities as an obsessive lover of music: 

"I am a lost soul, I shoot myself with rock & roll. The hole I dig is bottomless, but nothing else can set me free."
Live & sloppy drunk in 2004: