(written the week of his death, mid-March)
For me, the music of Jason Molina will, in some ways, always be connected to Scout Niblett’s. I’d discovered Scout Niblett in the early months of 2007, sitting at home preparing for those exams that pretty much determine where you’re headed for the rest of your life, as long as you live in this country, at least. I was discovering the joys of broadband internet and downloading anything I could lay my hands on. Scout Niblett was one of those musicians. I heard “Wet Road ” and was won over instantly.
Six months down that line, a boy I pined for, one I thought pined for me back from across state lines (how much simpler those notions were in my head, way back when), sent me a rare 7” split between Scout and Songs:Ohia, with a reworked version of her song “Miss My Lion” and the first version I ever heard of that fateful song “Lioness”. The Didn’t It Rain Translation, it was called.
Songs: Ohia is the work I am mostly familiar with in Jason Molina’s vast oeuvre, an oeuvre that has been called “prolific” for good reason a lot this past week. The man wrote a lot of music. I never even got around to the Magnolia Electric Co. stuff because by the time I was done really indulging in the S:O discography, my interests were temporarily — never totally — strayed towards music of the electronic bent. I’ve heard most of the albums once through, of course, but nothing like my obsession with S:O. not even close. It’s been an interesting mix of stories flowing in, and video links as well, where I’ve mourned a man whose music meant so much to me, even as those links sent me to songs I’d never really heard properly before. A delicious contradiction.
whether you save me or whether you savage me, i want my last look to be the moon in your eyes
In some ways, I should hate Jason and his music. But it’s my fault really, for taking his music literally– not as a warning sign, but as a coda for life and love. It’s all about hindsight, I suppose? He spoke often of love and relationships, real and metaphorical, heart-wrenching and soul-destroying. And the eighteen-year-old me, the one who had yet to fall in love, thought that was love, more often than not: unrequited, sad, painful. Full of late nights under blankets whispering sweet nothings while tears rolled down your cheeks. And then nights of singing along, alone. Thinking that was the stuff of life, that sadness.
Walking to class at 8 in the morning, on an unusually-deserted road, listening to that guitar twang, that gentle voice, on repeat. And then again in 2009, when you’re home on break, and you’ve realized the fool you’ve been for two years, and you finally expunge the madness from your life, and use this album as your salve.
Yes, Jason Molina has seen me through some tough times. And that’s what has been interesting about the very many stories and pieces people are writing about Molina; the fact that his music was personal to everyone. For as many stories as there are reliving meeting him, or seeing him live, there are many more from all over the world — like this silly one right here — about just the music, and connecting with it, and having it be a part of your life. Listening to Ghost Tropic in that loneliest (while ironically being the most eventful) winter of 2009. Cranking up Axxxess & Ace that playful, joyful summer of 2010.
I have admittedly not gone back to his music too often in the last few years, barring introducing him to people around me, and cranking up “Captain Badass” every now and then. Perhaps that has to do with the many other kinds of music I have been on a journey of discovering or loving, or perhaps it is simply because I don’t need these songs as much as I once did. The melancholia, the heartbreak: maybe I’m finally learning to overcome these on my own. Or not having my heart broken too much anymore?
Either way, Jason Molina, thank you. I will continue to listen to and love your music, even as my dependency on it may vary. You are not just a healer of hearts; you fill mine with love.
It hurts to know he ended his life in such sadness. Many more have said things far more eloquent about him and his life. I don’t believe in an afterlife, but if he did, I hope he’s chilling in his, strumming his guitar.