I had a Fanboy obsession with Guster with the release of their 2006 LP Ganging Up On The Sun. For at least a year, I listened obsessively to them and championed their cause with various internet outlets of my writing past (some of my best and some of my most embarrassing output). I don't have the same religious fervor I did in 2006 but they remain a consistent part of my musical diet and vital part of my life's soundtrack.
Gusterhhoids will have their pitchforks and torches out when they notice I have nothing from Lost & Gone Forever on my list and they're right except for that they're wrong. L&GF is such a strong listen from beginning to end and I love most every song but there isn't one that soars above the others on that record nor the best of the Guster catalog. I'm also handcuffed because every song not from Ganging Up On The Sun feels wrong. What a magnificent record that is! I should make this a Top 12 and just list "Lightning Rod" through "Hang On" and call it done but that would be cheating. It would also omit some brilliant and sublime moments from other records.
I agonized over these five selections and am still at war with it but I release it into the earth as my Top 5 Guster songs... at least for today, when I'm not listening to Ganging Up On The Sun. Which I am. As I write this. Right now.
- "Do You Love Me?" - Who in the world would imagine a trio who started with two acoustic guitars and a set of tom toms would write a Phil Specter-esque pop marvel that stands as one of the greatest love and pop marvels of the 21st century? I was already in the obsessed camp when this song was released and I was stunned by its brilliance. Hit status doesn't validate a song and it's an unknowable but I will forever believe this song would have been a certified hit on the pop charts had there been a label to push it, even if it is by a non-mainstream band. No matter. This is the glory and you owe it to yourselves to hear it.
- "Demons" - The harmonies in this, as with most of their best songs, are tremendous and the lyrics resonate with me in new ways, not because I have done it but because I wonder if I should or if I could.
- "Satellite" - I love the instrumentation and melodies and at different points in the song the bass and drums click in a manner evoking John McVie and Mick Fleetwood. I was attracted to the melancholy in the song when I first heard it but unrequited love was a memory at that juncture. I hear this song with new ears, as with "Demons." Why will she always be just a little out of reach? Was he the art of almost? Did he blow it? Does he have her on too high a pedestal? Whatever the reasons, he's still tracking her orbit.
- "Jesus On The Radio" - I'm not the only one in love with this song as it's become a traditional show closer, performed au natural, sans amplification (look at me going multi-lingual). Harmonies and banjo wrap around a great hook. I dare you to take this song on a road trip and resist the urge to find a vocal line to sing along with as you cruise in your car. Double dare you.
- "Diane" - I'm sure this is where I lose some of you but it's my list and I'm write, damn it! I love the series of vignettes Ryan Miller creates with his words of a couple questioning what's real and what isn't. Snapshots of being awoken by and wrestling with secrets in our sleep, watching her train pull away until he can no longer see it. Is their love a lie they perpetrate on one another? Is it all unraveling or is there still hope? It all seems like it's unraveling but is it?
"We'll make it out together
And I may leave in time you'll see
I'll come right back for you"