My Top 1000 Songs #341: Game Of Pricks

[I've been writing up my Top 1000 songs on a daily basis--you can see them all in descending order by hitting the All My Favorite Songs tag.]

My current Spotify playlist of Guided by Voices/Robert Pollard highlights--already a few years out of date--has over 90 songs on it, about half of which I'd be perfectly comfortable including on this Top 1000. So it does feel like I'm just randomly plucking a few out and sprinkling them here and there just keep the GbV flow coming.

Still, if one were looking to create an alternate universe where classic rock history never happened, Guided by Voices' "Game Of Pricks," from 1995's superb Alien Lanes, would capably fill the faux-Beatles slot. It sounds to me what a pre-Revolver Beatles song would have sounded like if, say, the Stooges had replaced Elvis Presley in the pantheon of rock & roll originators.

Like much of GbV's work from the mid-90s, there's an unfinished demo sound to it, a 90-second rough sketch for a perfect pop song where they give you the hooks and let you fill in the rest in your head. But ooh, those hooks! And throw in some lyrics that ring absolutely true, a declarative anthem belying their open-to-interpretation ambiguity: "You could never be strong, you can only be free. And I never asked for the truth but you owe that to me!"

A live performance confirming the song's underlying claim to epic rock anthem status:
The (slightly) longer and (very slightly) more polished re-recording:
Lou Barlow of Sebadoh gives it an emo-like reworking: