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 comes from friend and fellow music blogger, Simon, who owns and operates Beat Surrender. If you’re not familiar with the site, go check it out.
I came to Jason’s music during the later part of his work and at the transition from Songs: Ohia to Magnolia Electric Co., the key that opened the door to his music for me was a track that appeared on a mixtape swap that I was involved in with a few friends – it’s somewhere hidden amongst the shelves and boxes of CD’s that surround me in the room I’m sitting in as I attempt to put into words what Jason’s music came to mean to me – that song was ”The Dark Don’t Hide It.”
When I heard the news about Jason’s death it was the words and music to ”The Dark Don’t Hide It” that were awakened and flooded into my head and from which I wrote a few words on Beat Surrender in tribute to the “tortured soul who could not run or hide from his own darkness but through his words and music gave strength to many to deal with their own demons – may he rest in peace.”
“The Dark Don’t Hide It” led me to the Magnolia Electric Co. album What Comes After the Blues and from there backwards to Jason’s Songs: Ohio and Pyramid Electric Co. work, I’m not sure prolific is the right word to use but Jason was not one it appears to sit back on his songs or to hive them away for another day creating an amazing body of work from ’97 through to ’09 - this I’m sure was linked to his illness to the alcohol dependance and depression, the need to communicate, the search for meaning, attempts to cast out the demons through creativity. It’s interesting to read Will Johnson’s tribute to Jason where he talks about how he worked on songs “with the care and attention of a gifted and obsessed technician”, of his tirelessness and dedication to the muse.
Sometimes listening to Jason’s music is not easy, I don’t mean it’s a chore, I mean to say it can be painful, for me personally it can cause me to question events, decisions made, words used, actions taken and it can take me into the shadows and darkness – but often lead me to an answer, to a new meaning or possibility and ultimately to a healing of the mind – there’s a powerful redemptive quality in Jason’s songs, that rare combination of lyrics, voice and arrangements affect in a way that few artists can and for that his music will always hold a special place in my head and heart.
–Simon, Beat Surrender