As part of a series called “Remembering Jason Molina,” I’m collecting stories about Jason and his impact on songwriters, musicians, and music writers. These are all individual tributes, on how Jason has affected their music, their perception of music, or just anecdotes on meeting him or seeing him live. Each story is being posted to surround and promote the new album Farewell Transmission: The Music of Jason Molina, which not only celebrates Jason’s music, but will also help the Molina family and MusiCares with its proceeds.
Today’s tribute is a real treat! My good friend, Doc Feldman, honestly reflects on the immense impact Jason has had on him as a songwriter in his meaningful tribute. And, I’m sure anyone who has heard Jason’s songs can relate. However, Doc took it one step further. He met up with his friends and former bandmates, Brothers Lazaroff, to record this “cathartic”, bluesy, jazzy, laid-back cover of “Let Me Go Let Me Go Let Me Go”, which you can listen to at the end of this post. And, although the version is more relaxed, he has handled the song with a beautiful, melancholy reverence that only a seasoned songwriter and bluesman can. It’s a tribute that will leave you saying “FUCK.”
(P.S.: I threw in Doc covering Jason’s song “The Old Horizon.”)
I was recently asked during a songwriter-in-the-round type night to talk about and then perform a song from an artist that had a big influence on me. I grew up listening to The Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd, The Beatles, and the Allman Brothers, so there was of course that kind of Mount Rushmore of Rock n Roll that seeped into my soul. I’ve been through phases of my life where I’d listen to nothing but the blues, or old timey music, or country music from the 70s, or even non-stop Reggae or free jazz for months or even years on straight. There have of course been extremely influential artists that I’ve actually played with and exchanged ideas with over the years who have had a direct and profound impact on my songwriting. But outside of those experiences, there’s really only one modern “contemporary” artist that stands out as a profound influence on me, and that’s Jason Molina. Though I never met him in person, since first hearing his music (and immediately consuming everything I could find of his), I’ve just always felt a profoundly personal connection with him. One that isn’t easily explained I suppose.
Jason was magikal, and I mean that in the absolute best Crowley-esque way. He was dark and mysterious. He was sad and vulnerable. He could bite and sink his teeth in hard. He was comforting in his raw beauty. His guitar could kick your fucking ass if it wanted to, and it was devastating when it did. And that voice! Holy shit that voice could kill. It had an unyielding power replete with lightning bolts of melancholia that sizzled and burned on your skin like a brand or tattoo when it would strike. Upon first hearing him, I just remember being awestruck; my bottom jaw opened; and me muttering some monosyllabic tone like, “fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucckk!” I doubt I’m the only one to have had that same feeling of wonderment with him. As I dove deeper, I became obsessed with his ability to hold back. I loved his willingness to slow the fuck down and try to be in the moment in every moment. No movement or intonation or breath was wasted. He was willing to be vulnerable in both his lyrical content and musical delivery with the greatest kind of “fuck you, this is all I got, so take it or leave it” kind of attitude though not in a dismissive way towards others but in the most beautiful-of-inviting-others-to-share-in-this-freedom type of way. He was incredibly inspiring to me, and I’m so grateful to have found his music along life’s journey. I was truly saddened as many of us were when we learned that he had passed and was ultimately unsuccessful in overcoming his abuse and addiction to alcohol. I think the world has been seriously cheated out of having such a songwriter (and man for that matter) still with us to continue to share of himself and his musical vision.
I recorded this version of “Let Me Go Let Me Go Let Me Go,” the title track off Molina’s 2006 solo release, with my good friends Brothers Lazaroff. The band; consisting of David and Jeff Lazaroff on electric guitars, Grover Stewart on drums, Teddy Brookins on acoustic bass, Mo Egeston on keyboards, and me playing acoustic guitar and singing; recorded this song in David’s home studio. Everything was recorded live with just one take if I remember correctly. The only real “overdub” was David going back over the intro with all sorts of crazy sounds and noises and then mixing the tracks, which to me now totally makes this version for me. The track was then mastered graciously by the absolutely fantastic Jacob Detering of Red Pill Entertainment. It was a tribute that was totally cathartic and satisfying for me to get to do with such great artists and even better people.
–Derek (aka Doc) Feldman
Purchase Farewell Transmission: The Music of Jason Molina: Amazon; iTunes
Jason Molina: Website; Secretly Canadian; Graveface Records
Magnolia Electric Co.: Website; Secretly Canadian; Facebook
Doc Feldman: Website; Facebook; Twitter; Bandcamp
Brothers Lazaroff: Website; Facebook; Twitter; YouTube; Bandcamp