5. Guster – Lost and Gone Forever

cd cover 5. Guster – Lost and Gone Forever

As I said before, I got myself a Guster cd shortly (read: immediately) after seeing them in concert, and that album remained in my cd player (and car tape player) until Christmas. This album was quite honestly all I listened to in the Unix lab for months, and I absolutely loved every song on the album. This album remains my favorite Guster album, though the newest album (Keep It Together) is making quite the rise in my mind, and Goldfly will forever remain a close follower as well.

One thing I really like about Guster is that many of their songs have a fairly upbeat, energetic feel to them, despite some rather heavy messages/subject matter. They manage to make it all come across as believable and worthwhile, rather than sounding like their making light of things like suicide, drug addiction, and the failure of relationships, and they don’t come across as pretentious pricks. I like that. That having been said, there are certainly some songs that are just plain sad, and sound sad… so very, very sad.

This album also features many, many of the things I’ve been listing off as things I very much enjoy about albums:

  1. Singability – This album features some of the best songs I’ve ever found to sing along to. They’re also nicely in the small range where i believe myself not to sound like ass. (I’m under no delusion that my Veruca Salt sounds like anything but ass) One thing I may not have mentioned before was that I very much life songs that have parts that involve counting… It’s hard to explain.. perhaps it’s just because I don’t have to work too hard to remember those words, but something about that I find very fun. Some songs that do this well: Don’t Make Me Prove It from Veruca Salt’s 8 Arms to Hold You (“Zero, one, two, three, four days without you… eight, nine, now we’re five times two.“), Pearl Jam’s Animal, from Vs (“One, two, three, four, five against one. Five, five, five against one.” < - That one always goes with the counting off with your fingers raised in the air as well. Man that concert was amazing.), then there’s the ultimate count-off: The Violent Femmes Kiss Off:

      I take one, one, one cause you left me   and two, two, two for my family   and three, three, three for my heartache   and four, four, four for my headaches   and five, five, five for my loneliness,   six, six, six for my sorrow,   and seven, seven no no no no tomorrow,   and eight, eight, I forgot what eight was for   but nine, nine, nine for my lost gods,   and ten, ten, ten, ten for everything, everything, everything, everything

    Anyway, this album has the grand Barrel of a Gun which goes “Four, three, two, one.” quite often. It’s grand.

  2. Polyphony – The thing where two or more melodies are woven together seamlessly. I love that. On this album, this works especially well on What You Wish For, when you’ve got three parts singing different lines for the second verse. this works well with the Signability part as well, because you get to choose which part you want to sing, or attempt to sing them all, and sound like a damn fool.
  3. Play-Along-ability – As I mentioned before, I tend to listen to an album more if there’s a chance I could play along to the songs on my guitar. Most of the time, I just go online and find some tabs, and tweak a bit if I think they don’t sound right (um.. okay, most of the time, they end up being G-C-D anyway, so tweaking isn’t really necessary..) Anyway, when I got into Guster, I couldn’t find tabs anywhere, so I just started trying stuff out to see if I could get close, and it was a ton of fun. Many of there songs (like Center of Attention and All the Way Up to Heaven) feature really fun little guitar riffs that aren’t horribly complicated, but sound quite kewl, and thus, are very fun to play.
  4. Harmony. When you can get two people to sing together and make it all blend together perfectly, you’ve got something special. Guster has a Simon and Garfunkel quality to them in that regard that makes them just a joy to listen to.
  5. Lyrical Poetry. The lyrics to some of these songs would make wonderful poetry, I think. At any rate, the lyrics are grand, and worth reading or listening closely to.

So yeah, I like this album a lot. It helps that the album starts out with my favorite Guster song, and one of my favorite songs from any artist: What You Wish For:

  Woke up today to everything grey  And all that I saw just kept going on and on  Sweep all the pieces under the bed  Close all the curtains and cover my head  And what you wish for won't come true  You aren't surprised love, are you?    [The polyphony thinger:]  If this serenade          Repeat After me                  Just a little bit closer    Is not what you want          And do what I say                  Caught up in a lie    It's just how it is         It won't change a thing                  Got a little bit colder    It keeps going on and on      Come out, come out where ever you are  Would you do it all over right from the start  And what you wish for won't come true  You aren't surprised love, are you?  So what you wish for won't come true  You aren't surprised love, are you?      Once had this dream, crashed down and up  Not black and white, but where the colors are  I never dreamed that I would let it go    And I will get what I deserve  Keep all the secrets under the bed  Open the curtains, forget what I said  And what you wished for could come true  You aren't surprised love, are you?  So what you wished for could come true  You aren't surprised love, are you?

From the instant I heard the words “woke up together to everything grey“, I was hooked. I don’t think you can live through a single Michigan winter without eventually feeling your soul completely destroyed by the endless parade of grey, miserable days. It gets to the point where simply waking up and looking outside is enough to make you miserable all day long. The grey seems to start from the sky, and eventually sucks all the color out of the world, and then from inside your head.. well, my head, anyway. Life turns into the endless parade of the same old drab nothingness, and right when you think your about to snap.. and spring and color and joy and happiness will never come, *BANG*, you’ve got 4 more damn months of winter to get through. Stupid Michigan winters..

Anyway, the opening line caught me, and the rest of the song was just perfect. The energetic optimism of the last few lines “What you wished for could come true” always hits me as being rather powerful. I’ve heard this song performed live a few times, and they sing the “Won’t come true” at the end, and that always confused me… Then I heard a few more live performances, and a fairly humorous drunken performance of “Sunshine”, and decided they either forgot the words, or were drunk. Either way, the album version is my favorite.

I could talk about each song the album for a while, but suffice it to say, they are all amazingly good, and you ought to give them a listen. My other personal favorites include: Either Way, Fa Fa, All the Way Up to Heaven, Rainy Day, Happier, Two Points for Honesty, I Spy, Center of Attention, So Long, and Barrel of a Gun. So… along with What You Wish For, that makes the entire album. Told you it was good.

A final note: There are a few times in life when I am so taken with something that it becomes my goal to make as many people aware of it as possible. When I first read Jurassic Park I was so impressed with it I tried to get everyone I knew to read it, with limited success. When I discovered Ed, I insisted that everyone I knew watch it, with some (albeit limited) success. When I discovered Guster, I demanded that people listen, and those who have seem to like them as well. This pleases me.

8 thoughts on “5. Guster – Lost and Gone Forever

  1. Whew, I was afraid people would forget about Michael Jackson. Thanks for bringing him back into the public eye, Sven.

    jerk.

    I do like Coolio’s “1, 2, 3, 4, Sumpin’ New” though.

  2. Its about time you mentioned the Violent Femmes. I enjoy music I can sing along too which pretty much includes the Femmes, Bob Dylan, and old country. That is to say nothing that requires the ability to carry a tune or stay in key or really remember the words.

  3. I like the fact that Guster doesn’t harmonize with ‘themselves’ too much – i.e. dub voice 1 over voice 1, with a different note. Good album.

  4. Adam -> Agreed. That also explains why they tend to sound similar to the album/good when they perform live.

    Doug -> The Femmes really should have been on the list. I think I’ve grabbed as many quotes from that one Femmes album that I have than as I have from any other artist total. I think Femmes quotes have showed up at the top of the page more than any other artist.

    Disregard my nervousness. Please ignore my vacant stares.

  5. “Canine ate seven sick five year olds” – Cap’n Jazz

    Kinda counting. The same song also has this in it
    “a, b, c, d, e, f , g, h, i, j, k, lost” if you like to sing the alphabet.

  6. I thought the line was “Once had this dream, crashed down in Oz”. The part about black and white vs. colors makes more sense then, doesn’t it?

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