Doug Gillard comments on the track from Consequence of Sound's Track By Track feature:
This song came to Bob wholly formed in a dream. It features a brilliant a cappella first stanza. I think even his idea for the middle passage, reminiscent of a school concert band, was in that dream.
CoS article link: https://consequenceofsound.net/2019/10/guided-by-voices-track-by-track-sweating-the-plague-stream/