By: Guided By Voices
Appears on: Live from Austin, TX
It was during their “final” tour, in 2004, that Guided By Voices were asked to perform on the live concert television series Austin City Limits. The entire performance—full of classic tunes as well as several from their latest album, Half Smiles of the Decomposed—was released on both CD and DVD in 2007 and titled Live From Austin, TX.
They performed a 90-minute set, which was ample time for the band to get…I guess “drunker than usual” would be an apt phrase to use here; then again, it seemed to happen quite a lot, especially during this farewell tour. Not to single out any one band member, but rhythm guitarist Nate Farley seemed to have the most trouble playing (not to mention standing) by the end of this particular performance, which was an unfortunate decision considering how few live concert DVDs the band has released. Nevertheless, this is a performance worth owning; and, to anyone wanting to learn how to play GBV songs on guitar, professionally-shot concert footage such as this is invaluable.
This tour saw the comeback of Redmen And Their Wives to the set list: a lyrically sad, but ultimately uplifting tune from 1996’s Under The Bushes Under The Stars. It showcases lead guitarist Doug Gillard’s magnificent playing, as he is the sole accompaniment to Robert Pollard’s vocals through the first half of the song. For the tablature examples in this post, I’ve indicated Gtr 1 as Doug and Gtr 2 as Nate so you can learn either part. The times indicated for each figure correspond to the times on the CD track for this recording.
Figure 1 shows the intro, in which Doug deftly combines the main riff with the Dsus2 and Csus2 chords (on Under The Bushes Under The Stars, one guitar plays the chords while the other plays the riff). This riff will appear again during the interlude, and then again as the song’s outro. Try to let those chords ring out as much as possible while playing the riff. This figure repeats once before the vocals come in for the first verse.
After the intro repeats once, it goes directly into a verse, shown in Figure 2. The first verse is written out as just chord names indicated above the lyrics; you can refer to the chord diagrams for the voicings and just strum these. There is a bit of the “drop the bass” playing technique in these verse chords: you start with a Bb5 and then simply remove your index finger from the 5th string to drop that note from a Bb to an A (open 5th string).
Figure 2 will repeat once, after which Figure 3 is played. There is a chorus here, with the chord progression of Am, Dm, Bb5 being repeated once and leading right back into verse 2.
Verse 2 is essentially the same as Verse 1, but there is a slight variation in the chords, as shown in Figure 4. Again, you can refer to the chord diagrams to see how these should be played. This figure also includes the second chorus, and there is a variation in the chords there as well: the Bb5 is played as a Bbsus2 chord.
This brings us to the interlude, in which Gtr 2 (Nate) plays the main riff in unison with Gtr 1 (Doug). Notice the pick-up note before the repeat symbol: this is only played the first time through. Doug also plays a riff over the Bb5 chord while Nate strums it during the first ending. When the figure repeats, both guitars play the riff again and then go into the bridge.
In the bridge (Figure 6), both guitars strum a chord progression of Bb5, F5, C5, C5/B. Doug plays the F5 with a C in the bass, on the 8th fret of the guitar neck, and stays on that fret to play the C5 and C5/B. This figure plays through a total of 3 times and then the rest of the band kicks in for the final verse.
The last verse uses the same chord progression as the previous two, as shown in Figure 7. Both guitars strum these chords in unison, playing through this progression 4 times.
During the outro, in Figure 8, the main riff comes back once more. This time, in a brilliant twist of songwriting, it is played over the verse chords. Gtr 1 plays the riff while Gtr 2 strums the chords indicated above the tab. While playing the F5, Gtr 1 drops the bass note briefly to an open E on the 6th string, and then back up to F on the first fret. You’ll play Figure 8 a total of 4 times; on the last time, instead of strumming the final measure of G5, both guitars just play a single G5 chord that rings out to end the song.