The Chunklet piece on Molina’s death linked above, as well as the post from last year covering his absence and struggle with addiction are well worth reading. Molina’s work is even more worth listening.
I woke up today with my head somewhere else. I woke up today, shuffled around, nestled down with my kicking bean, tried to find my head. I always forget this month is still winter, but the way that even the sun looks chilled corrects me.
I’ve pulled away from the music I used to love in recent years, in part because that’s what you do— you pull away, and you revisit, and you pull away— and in part because I’ve reached my nostalgia quota these days. When every day you live is better than the last, looking back at the past seems pale. I’ve got dried wheat stuffed in every Prairie Green Frankoma vessel you could think of, rose rocks and Mason’s pecans tucked away in drawers, and a dozen jars of pickles from my wedding over a year ago lining my shelves. That’s enough.
But I learned today that Jason Molina died, and something about that anemic light streaming in and the dregs of my cereal bowl and my cold toes made me sit down quietly with Songs:Ohia’s Magnolia Electric Co.
I’ll spare you (and me) the vast majority of silly details and recall just a few. It was October 2008, the sky looked nice at night. I was waiting for the wheels to come off and steering downhill. I walked to the front of the crowd, crossed my turquoise cardiganed arms, tapped my toe obediently. It all sounded nice- swirly thoughts, a few Shiner Bocks, twangy guitars.
Farewell Transmission seemed to last longer than its promised seven minutes. At some point, I stopped that annoying swaying that only 25 year old girls with messy buns think they can get away with, and stood straight. My face got hot. My jaw clenched. The chorus continued, while Molina admonished, “Listen!” intermittently. For a reason I still don’t understand, that admonishment commanded stinging tears that ran hot down my cheeks. It hurt, and like stubbing a toe or smashing a thumb, I immediately wanted to blame the person or object nearest to me. ”You listen,” I thought, insolent, and turned on my heel to go outside.
I found friends outside, and everything felt fine again. I went back inside, that stubbed toe/smashed thumb/hurt pride soothed. I have no recollection of the rest of the show or evening. I assume it ended like any other, with tabs to pay, lights coming on, and a slow shuffle down the sidewalk home.
In this narrative I’ve woven, the next thing thing I remember is a chilly Saturday in April, an entire day spent buying records (and cheese and radishes and ham hocks) with my now-husband, papa to this kicky bean. It was the first month of our relationship, and we spent the month saying, sometimes with words but more often with albums, ‘Here’s who I am, here’s who I was, and here’s who I’d like to be.’
Which is all to say, there are people in this world who can say things better than we can, and they write songs, and they always have their own problems. And when we lose them, we lose a part of our own voices.