in jason molina’s catalogue, this is credited as an album. i’ve always thought of it more as an ep. they’re not short songs, but there are only seven. and while it might be argued, here vest some of the most harrowing of jason’s songs. one of them is perhaps my favourite song anywhere, any time.
it begins with the jewel, that song, didn’t it rain. the warmth of the very first chords that play throughout, and the singing of those lyrics, are something almost indescribable to behold:
no matter how dark the storm gets overhead
they say someone’s watching from the calm at the edge
what about us when we’re down here in it?
we gotta watch our own backs.
but if you do see that golden light –
that it shines in its fiery eyes –
go on and catch it while you can, go on and catch it if you can
let it course through you, let it burn through you –
if it’s the light of truth.
you are so absorbed in the story being told that it’s an odd out-of-body moment when, towards the end he speaks to his colleagues, let’s bring it back, we can sing one more. it’s a moment of consciousness that they were actually singing it, recording it, creating it; and we are listeners on that. until such a point, one is lost entirely in the universe that he envelops around the listener; of being in a physical and emotional storm with sometimes small and sometimes large offerings of respite.
colours aren’t unusual in his music either. three of the songs have blue the title, and he sings of it in others. it would be trite to conclude that this is his own form of literal blues. but the content is definitively the most heart-aching – it causes a physical weight in one’s chest. in second-favourite here, blue factory flame ambles with a prominent bass and beautifully echoing electric guitar backed up with the consistent cymbal-heavy rhythm, replete with the following verse:
when i die, put my bones in an empty street
to remind me how it used to be
don’t write my name on a stone
bring a coleman lantern and the radio
a cleveland game and two fishin’ poles
and watch with me from the shore
ghostly steel and iron ore ships comin’ home
where i am paralysed by the emptiness
it is followed by two blue lights, the simplest of songs with jason in duet with jennie benford to gorgeous effect, supported only by a lone minimal plucked electric guitar. this album displays beautifully the resonant qualities of jason’s guitar playing, and the aforementioned warmth it imparted to what was sometimes cold comfort.
when this was released, i read the reviews that likened it to the music of will oldham. i took that to imply imitation, a dull form of flattery or outright misappropriation. a small part of me will always feel sorrow for dismissing jason’s music for so long on the basis of what other people were telling me to think about it. it was a hard lesson to learn the way that i did.
joy and happiness aren’t words to use upon the discovery of music as brilliant as this. but i know that my mind and heart would be much lesser things had it remained forever unheard. and in reality, i don’t give a fuck if not a single other person in the world understood it.
show us how close it can get
show us how fast we can lose it
how bad we’re out-numbered