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R.I.P. Jason Molina

By ; March 18, 2013 at 2:34 PM 

jason molina

R.I.P. Jason Molina

It was announced today that Jason Molina, who released a bunch of beautiful albums under the names Songs: Ohia and Magnolia Electric Co. (amongst others) has passed away from organ failure due to alcoholism. His alcoholism was known about for a while, and not too long ago his family put out a plea asking for donations to help Jason get into rehab, but Molina’s notoriety was never that high, and had faded substantially in the last few years as he fell off the map, so evidently they never managed to get him together. Which is a real fucking shame.

Why is it the deaths of the artists that made sad music and had sad back stories that affect me the most? I remember when Mark Linkous (Sparklehorse) died a few years ago I was depressed for days, and I have a feeling it’s going to be the same with Molina. I think it’s because they had tough times and it seems like they never got their happy endings, which is just how brutal life is in reality, I suppose.

Linkous suffered from depression his whole life and mal-formed legs following his overdose while supporting Radiohead in the 90s. It had seemed like the problems were behind him though, having just released an album with Danger Mouse and David Lynch in 2009 and with talk of a new Sparklehorse album in the works, when the news came that he had killed himself in March 2010. By shooting himself in the heart.

With Molina, I had ignorantly assumed that his friends, family and fans would gather around him and nurse him back to health and he would release a stunning comeback album filled with stories beautifully rendered in song about the pain and strife that he’d been through. Alas, it was not meant to be.

Both Linkous’ and Molina’s music is hauntingly beautiful and I think that’s also part of the reason why their deaths affected me; their music is so brutally honest it was refreshing and crushing in equal measure, and I had endless time for it. Now their songs will haunt me in different ways.

Molina has such a vast back catalogue that I still haven’t even managed to get through it all, but I’ll be doing my best to do so in the coming months. My favourite album of his is The Magnolia Electric Co., the last album he released under the name Songs: Ohia in 2003, before taking up the album’s title as his new artist name. Below I’ve posted the opening track “Farewell Transmission,” which seems appropriate as Jason makes his journey to wherever we go to after we leave this plain. In fact, I’ve been listening through the album as I write this and pretty much every song seems perfect for this moment – particularly the closing “Hold On, Magnolia,” but you should listen through the whole album to reach that point – he was a genius at tapping into these moods. I recommend you listen to it. (It’s here on Spotify.)

So farewell Jason, I hope the next life treats you better.

Here are the full and brilliant lyrics to “Farewell Transmission”

The whole place is dark
Every light on this side of the town
Suddenly it all went down
Now we’ll all be brothers of the fossil fire of the sun
Now we will all be sisters of the fossil blood of the moon
Someone must have set us up
Now they’ll be working in the cold grey rock,
in the hot mill steam… in the concrete
In the sirens and the silences now
all the great set up hearts
all at once start to beat
After tonight if you don’t want us to be
a secret out of the past
I will resurrect it, I’ll have a good go at it
I’ll streak his blood across my beak and dust my feathers with his ashes
I can feel his ghost breathing down my back
I will try and know whatever I try,
I will be gone but not forever
The real truth about it is
no one gets it right
The real truth about it is
we’re all supposed to try
There ain’t no end to the sands
I’ve been trying to cross
The real truth about it is my kind of life’s no better off
If I’ve got the maps or if I’m lost
The real truth about it is there ain’t no end to the desert I’ll cross
I’ve really known that all along
Mama here comes midnight
with the dead moon in its jaws
Must be the big star about to fall
Long dark blues
The big star is falling
Through the static and distance
A farewell transmission

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