Thursday, September 13, 2007

Great Songwriters: The Mountain Goats- The Sunset Tree

There has always been something about John Darnielle’s lyrics; even when you’re not exactly sure what he’s talking about, it always feels like he’s telling it like it is. Not that metaphor is a major player on The Sunset Tree, the latest album from the Mountain Goats (of which Darnielle is the founder, frontman, and once only member.) Songs like "This Year," "Dance Music," and "Hast Thou Considered the Tetrapod?" are painfully honest about his traumatic childhood and abusive stepfather. You might think that an album about child abuse would be hard to listen to, but as always, hearing Darnielle's lyrics is an honor and a privilege. Trying experiences are captured with deceptively simple statements (is there any better expression of determination than "I will make it through this year if it kills me"?) On this CD, Darnielle also remembers revered (yet cocaine-addled) reggae star Dennis Brown. ("It took all the coke in town to bring down Dennis Brown. On the day my lung collapses, we’ll see just how much it takes.") Though the Mountain Goats have apparently done well enough for Darnielle to quit his day job as a nurse, they don't yet have all the fans they deserve. Don't wait to join the fold. -Leah Weathersby
key tracks: This Year, Dance Music, You Or Your Memory

Get it here

You Or Your Memory

I checked into a bargain priced room on la cienaga,
gazed out through the curtains of the parking lot.
walked down to the corner store just before nightfall in my bare feet.
black tarry asphalt, soft and hot.
and when I came back I spread out my supplies.
on the counter by the sink,
I looked myself right in the eyes

st. joseph's baby aspirin,
bartles and james,
and you or your memory.

I ducked behind the drapes when I saw the moon begin to rise,
gathered in my loose ends switched off the light.
and down there in the dark I can see the real truth about me.
as clear as day, lord if I make it through tonight
then I will mend my ways and walk the straight path to the end of my days.

st. joseph's baby aspirin,
bartles and james,
and you or your memory.

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