Saturday 29 December 2007

Countdown bis 2008: Favourite Mountain Goat Songs, Part I

Mountain Goats - Balance

Two Tall Glasses of Sweet Iced Tea
Underneath the Sweetgum Tree,
and the Love We Once Nurtured, You and Me
Disintegrating Violently.
Stick Your Tongue Out.
Catch the Pieces as they Drift Down the Air.
I am Too Slow to Catch them All
Not Too Far Gone To Care

Two Slow Summer Hours Spent Picking at the Bones,
Figuring the Interest on Delinquent Loans.
Speaking in Sad and Mournful Tones,
Trying to Squeeze Tears out of Mute Stones.
Wet Your Finger.
Place it Toward the Wind.
Feel Disaster in the Air.
We Are Far Too Slow to Outrun it Now
Not Too Far Gone To Care.

All Hail West Texas (2002)

When I was 15, I put "I Know They've Come to Take My Toys Away" on my very first mixtape which I gave to someone who meant something to me and I was just wildly guessing at their taste, but it seemed to fit, because the first thing new people who are going to be around me longer have to understand is the tender balance between being a bit too serious, all the time, while secretly admiring everything that is truly naive in a good way, idealistically childish, not over-simplifying things, yet perfectly able to break them down to the essential core. John Darnielle is a master of this art, and the "All Hail West Texas" record is my favourite one, because there are stories in it and they put you somewhere else, within the 1 or 2 or 3 minutes they last. Other songwriters would need 10 minutes to convey the same amount of storytelling, and a string section for the emotions, but Darnielle makes do with one guitar. It doesn't take more.
Four years later I decided to put "Nothing In This World" by the Kinks on another mixtape for the very same person, and in the past few days I have tried to figure out whether that was appropriate, putting a song with lyrics which only made sense to me there just for the sake of its beauty, hoping or wishing that the lyrics would not seem quite as important or relevant to anyone else. That was one year ago, and I am still not sure whether the arc I have built here is going to turn into a circle or into a tangent into eternity.

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