i could just tell it was bad, i couldn’t tell how bad
i think i have something to blame pitchfork for – though i can’t hold it against william bowers who is an excellent writer. but i always thought fuck that band because of what i read about jason molina, especially if you take in the review for this release. his music was always described as either a rip off of other artists i loved, so not worth entering (which turned out to be wholly untrue), or too depressing or affected to be of any broader interest than moments of wallowing.
everyone warns of the darkness of this particular molina release. it’s harrowing, painful, “grabs you violently and lays you down so, so gently”. in fact, bowers concludes that if you “get” it, congratulations; you’re impenetrable. i actually think it’s far from these descriptors and, well, i won’t comment on the latter. these songs are spectacularly beautiful. for a start, i’ve never heard a guitar played like that on pyramid electric co, the first song.
three of my favourite molina songs appear on this album (though the proportion of favourites to all recorded songs is high in this instance) – red comet dust, spectral alphabet and long desert train. the first of these, for instance, invokes both other-worldliness, celestial bodies and a firm set of roots in the place we live. who can debate the amazing groundedness of such a lyric as i want to be true like the solid earth? i think of this song when i’m in the mountains and there’s no other body around. that’s the real truth of life and existence, out there. it is exactly what it is.
as an album it’s like a palindrome of seven songs. the first and last songs are lamentations on reality of similar sounds – strong and long in their way, and exposing the superfluous nonsense that we preoccupy our lives with. the second and sixth are stunning ruminations on the universe, as in astronomical and philosophical. the middle three are about everyday experiences of sorts – prostitution, relationships, travail. they show just how gorgeous his voice and thoughts were.
i can’t tell you how much i’ve cried since i found out he had passed away. i was at work. someone came to talk to me just after i’d read the news. i think they knew. but what do people usually cry about in public? maybe receiving bad news about a loved one or a close friend – not a musician on the other side of the world who ended up meaning more to you than you could ever have imagined. it’s inexplicable and perhaps, as mentioned above, impenetrable.
of course, much of his music from across various releases came to mean so much afterwards – those who listened heard the lyrics anew. there’s a level of predictability that makes the pain that much greater.
but i completely disagree that if you appreciate and love music such as jason molina made, you are prone to want to hurt yourself or hate yourself or slowly/quickly kill yourself. what layers beneath the obvious in all of his creations is a sense of resilience and sometimes paradoxical joy about the simplicity of the world and universe around us, and sometimes even the pain. you know you feel that; it makes you and it real.
i think people react negatively to music like this because most can’t deal with being alone, in their own mind and body, and grasp what that truly means. it’s like the avoidance of thinking about death because of the prospect (reality) that there’s nothing there. as the sticker on the back of my car implies, the end is infinite.
regardless, i’m not sure i’ll ever get over his early death. the fact that there will be nothing new ever again for the remaining years of my own life before that nothingness that he now inhabits, when there was probably so much more to be sung.
unlike molina’s music, the pain in my chest whenever i think of him is nearly unbearable. and that’s remembering forever.
i think we’ll be okay