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.
It has been a busy summer — at work and at home — and I feel horrible for neglecting the blog and this series, but I will neglect it no more. I am breathing life back into it with these beautifully written words and haunting cover of “Ocean’s Nerve” from Joshua Britton, better known as Psalmships.
I first heard Songs: Ohia in Vermont, cold forests and dark skies surrounding me, and without hesitation it changed everything. Not the external sort of change where you move or break up with someone or see things differently (though they all followed suit), but the kind of change that’s probably already occurred inside, and takes a jolt for you to finally see it in place, at work. Molina was a jolt, to me and so many people; those of us that seem to prostrate at his altar are merely paying our respects to a person who meant more in the decade he published music than his passing can ever commemorate. His songwriting was patriotic (for the land rather than its “conquerors”) and highly spiritual to even the casual listener, and he composed simply, so that no matter the depths of pain or heights of awareness, no one felt left behind – everyone was understood when broken down enough. The animals always present on each album are totems, representing our collective strengths and weaknesses, and sometimes his personal seductions and demons. The pastoral settings, however rough or calm, serve as reminders of home or feared destinations. And throughout it all, never a lack of confidence or, rather, purpose; a “servant singing soldier,” trying to serve himself rightly. He’s been for me part-anthropologist, part-disenfranchised guide through the endless black. His flame will flicker on the shore for all my days at sea.
— JB, 22.April.2014 9:56pm
Purchase Farewell Transmission: The Music of Jason Molina: Amazon; iTunes
Jason Molina: Website; Secretly Canadian; Graveface Records
Magnolia Electric Co.: Website; Secretly Canadian; Facebook
Psalmship: Website; Facebook; Twitter; YouTube; Bandcamp