Monday, March 17, 2014

Rest in Peace: Jason Molina, 1973-2013

So Jason Molina died about a year or so ago (give or take 2 days) today. My guess would be that he'll be forgotten within 5 years, re-discovered in 20, forgotten in 22, and then lionized as a "long-forgotten" member of the canon of great American folk singers 40 or so years down the line.

I don't really give a shit if that prediction comes true or not. The point was that Molina's work was brilliant, it made sense, because so few people were interested in it. That's not to say that great art is only great because the few cognoscenti appreciate it or understand it (they don't, especially when they say they do). Rather, most people who are willing to look into the abyss of failure, misery, frustration and the inability to communicate that makes up about 75% (if not 85% and upward) of human existence will, simply, never be embraced by the rest of the human community.
Just watch the video of "Back on the Top" that I posted. While the whole production may seem a bit stilted-I won't argue with you there; fundamentally, these were just Midwestern dudes forced to make a music video-the lack of pretension is marvellous. Molina and his co-conspirators never did anything they didn't believe in. That sets them apart from about 95% of the competition. It also earned them reams of shit from the jackals who read and write for pissant rags catering to people too stupid to listen to music they love, instead of music that will get them plaudits at their university's Theater Department parties. I still remember listening to kids, back when I was a young'un, lambasting Songs:Ohia albums as somehow boring, overly melodramatic and soforth.

Looking back on those years, as an adult with real problems, all I can say is that, if anything, that was a mark of Songs:Ohia's enduring value as musicians, and Jason Molina's enduring brilliance as a lyricist. This was a band (in its many permutations) that simply made music you wanted to listen to (or didn't), and sang of problems most of us who stay alive long enough will experience. Completely and utterly humdrum, yes. Boring? Never.

Blahlbha, none of this has done anything to explain to you, the reader, why Jason Molina's memory should remain evergreen in yr youthful(?) mind. He wasn't a pathfinder, he wasn't audacious, he simply was what he was*: a depressed, even despondent, lonely, and very, very gifted guy from the Midwest of the USA in a time that did not value intelligence or earnestness, especially if it came from somewhere west of the Appalachians and east of the Sierra Nevadas.

In any case, here's one of Songs:Ohia's eternal classics, "Captain Badass." The song goes on long enough that I can imagine it accompanying most any human activity besides writing a thorough-going demolition of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. For the most part, though, it's simply a beautiful, spartan bit of Americana sung in the darkness.

Love him and the bands he led or not, I, for one, will miss Jason Molina and would like to bid him a fond farewell transmission on this, the first anniversary of his death.

*Of course, I never met the guy. People who in fact knew Molina are welcome to tell me I'm full of shit. I'm simply extrapolating based on lyrics, interviews, and what I've seen of the Songs: Ohia/Magnolia Electric Co. live footage.

1 comment:

  1. Amazing talent will not be forgotten by people who appreciate real music, and not the garbage spoon-fed to them by corporate entertainment media pukes on a daily basis.