molina and johnson – self titled

sweet heart, what did you mean?
i mean, sweet heart, i know exactly what you meant

i want to write about molina and johnson tonight, but i feel that i still cannot do it justice. i did listen to it a couple of times throughout the day, as is rained on and off; interspersed with warm sun that made everything steam and glisten. i opened the house to smell the sweet wet earth; spring flowers and leaves; hear the sounds of hundreds of birds and frogs in the creek down the road; and watch the dark clouds press ever eastward and to the south.

i’ll leave tonight primarily as the day’s context for the album; my feelings about it; and why it was perfect for listening under such circumstances. but i think this might be an album i return to again when i feel better able to articulate its fine points.

i bought the album some time ago, not long after it came out, but had not listened with any intent. i didn’t know enough about will johnson, and was still exploring the fulsome catalogue of jason molina. i came across it last year in the milieu and finally put myself to task on it. i must state that this was well before jason passed away in march this year – this is important.

the description of the day above seems almost counterintuitive relative to the music. there’s not a lot that’s bright or refreshing about it. but it is grounded, earthy, warm, genuine and, for want of a better word, sparkling.

i have seen it reviewed as middle (of the) road, which annoys me immensely, either way you cut it. there is no sense of rewriting perceptions here. it’s not like, well, we’re never again going to have new music from jason molina so we’d better reconsider how we feel about everything he ever wrote and performed. straight up, this album is spectacularly beautiful.

firstly, it doesn’t really feel like the music that otherwise belongs to these two artists elsewhere in the universe. it is unique. but its use of their strengths, especially voices and lyric writing, does great justice to all involved. without any hyperbole, the album contains at least four of my favourite songs (which, to be fair, is a list probably numbering at least 100).

secondly, i have used it emotionally during a period in which i’ve had no one else to share such things. this is harder to describe. i have a thought that i want to share it. but i can’t think of whom, or in what way it might be appropriate. it states something of my independence in some ways (i’m seein’ my new cycle, my new way); the fact that this is a clear part of my identity. in that regard, sharing seems contradictory. but there’s something wholly indescribable about this album that makes it a perfectly self-contained raison d’être.

just because the complication is through
that doesn’t mean i’m any less confused

and there’s one moment in each star marks a day; when jason sings i remember us walking, twilight road, i remember you whisper goodbye; when, every time i hear it, i am transported to the adelaide airport in june 2004 when he cried as he left, and the last thing he said as the final embrace ended was, don’t give up on me. the emotion, the smells, the tiredness, the heart break. it floods back.

music as power. to invoke, to tell, to give meaning.

each star marks a day since you’ve been gone


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