I was lucky enough to catch Guided By Voices on the Alien Lanes tour in 1995. I was working as a journalist at the time and writing part-time for my friend’s fanzine. We already had the band’s previous albums in rotation on the stereo, but everything changed when this one came in the mail. We got the last three tickets in Los Angeles and had our faces melted off at the legendary Troubadour in West Hollywood. There are plenty of great songs on this impressive collection, but “Motor Away” has always been a stand out. The repetitive riff and driving rhythm are vintage GBV, but the lyrics would make a great short story.
Our narrator is a road warrior who has spent his life chasing a tired dream. The long, winding road that stretches to the horizon in both directions is littered with the bleached bones of missed opportunities, broken promises and failure to grab the brass ring. He’s the last man standing from a once proud army that haunts him day and night. Despite the odds, he’s made it further than any of the others he originally set out with, but he’s still no closer to reaching their ultimate destination. And every day he wonders if this will be the last before he finally turns the wheel and drives off into the sunset.
Read the full lyrics for Guided By Voices’ “Motor Away” right HERE.
More “Short Story in a Song” posts:
- “Say It Ain’t So” by Weezer
- “Carmelita” by Warren Zevon
- “The Mercy Seat” by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
- “Bad Scene, Everyone’s Fault” by Jawbreaker
- “Common People” by Pulp
- “Vacation” by The Go-Go’s
- “Nervous Breakdown” by Black Flag
- “The Rat” by The Walkmen
- “I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts” by X
S.W. Lauden is the author of the Greg Salem punk rock P.I. series includes BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION, GRIZZLY SEASON and HANG TIME (Rare Bird Books). He is also the co-host of the Writer Types podcast. Steve lives in LA.