I came a little late to the Guided by Voices party. Truthfully, I still don’t know a ton about the band. I know that Bee Thousand holds sort of a sacred place in lo-fi indie rock history, and that the band’s studio recorded albums are seen as a complete betrayal amongst many of there more intense fans. I know Robert Pollard was a teacher, and may have also been (and may still be) an asshole. He seems to be okay with this. He is an incredibly prolific songwriter, and has one of the most bizarre stories on his wikipedia page. I really hope it’s true.
I know all of this now. I know a little about Guided by Voices. I know this, because Matt Jackson knows this.
Let me explain.
I’m was in my early 20s and I was living with a woman in North Scituate, RI. North Scituate is one of the more rural areas of RI, a town large in size but small in population, where all the residents seem to know each other in a way that is more quaint than Stepford-creepy. The house we lived in was set pretty far back in the woods, isolated from an already pretty isolated area. There were 60 acres of trails winding through the woods behind the place, you could be as loud as you wanted without disturbing anybody, and I’m fairly certain the place was haunted in some capacity. (I typically don’t buy into that kind of stuff, but some seriously creepy things happened. I’m sure there’s an explanation for all of it, but movies have told me otherwise.)
Needless to say, I loved living there. I don’t mean to gloss over details here, but for the sake of privacy and brevity, I’m going to. The house belonged to her family, and when the title owner passed away, the house land was left to a preservation society. This wasn’t a problem until someone at the society decided the liability of having someone live in a house on what was technically their property wasn’t something they wanted to worry about. This is why I no longer live in the greatest place I ever lived.
On the final night that we had left in the house, my dear friend Matt Jackson was hosting his Stonehill College radio show. (To be fair, he could have been filling on someone else’s show, but that is a minor detail here.) I was listening to the show as I occasionally did, and gave him a call to say what’s up and let him know I was listening. He, along with a number of our other friends, had been a part of some pretty fantastic nights in that house, nights of drinking and over-drinking and singalongs and late-night walkabouts where the one friend who had a little too much doesn’t know how to get back because he can’t find his feet. (Not his shoes, literally his feet. Between the darkness and the alcohol, this person couldn’t see his feet when looking down, and was certain they weren’t there.) Jackson asked if there was anything I wanted to hear, I told him it was the last night there, and asked him to play some moving (literally moving, not emotionally moving) music. He told me he would get on it.
He played a number of songs, but “Window of My World” is the one I’ll always remember. I couldn’t begin to tell you exactly what it is about the song that did it, but it was as if every memory I had from that house hit me at once. Good, bad, angry, sad, happy, goofy, it was everything, and it suddenly became very real to me that, in the morning, this wasn’t going to be the place I lived anymore. I cried like I lost a family member, but when it was over, I felt a lot better about being able to let go and move on.
I’ll always think about that house, and Matt Jackson, when I hear this song.