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 posted to 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, singer-songwriter Samantha Crain shares a powerful tribute to Jason attesting to the strength of his influence on her music. In this brief paragraph, she vividly recalls listening to The Lioness for the first time as well as her internal and external dialogues with him during her creative process which can be heard in “For the Miner”. Samantha also provided a stark, lo-fi cover of “It’s Easier Now” from Jason’s second solo album under his name, Let It Go, Let It Go, Let It Go. It evokes Jason with its bleak beauty.
I found The Lioness in a bargain bin at Size Records in Oklahoma City when I was 17. The cover looked weird. Purple sky, palm trees. No lion. I had to get back to Shawnee and I had to pee so I grabbed it and paid the man 5 bucks. Back then, in high school, before being a touring musician that writes records had even entered my brain, I was a music loving kid with a cool car (cherry red 1967 Ford Mustang), not many friends, and a penchant for driving around–just driving around Pottawatomie and Lincoln county with no destination, burning gas and time. I got going on Interstate 40 and once I was clear of Midwest City, past the air force base, I popped the CD in my cheap blue neon glowing after market CD player in car. It was dawn, my speakers were loud, and then, I hear it. The heavy sparse chords of “The Black Crow” rang through me, filling all the dark air in the cab of the car. Then his voice, this Jason Molina guy, yelps out, sounding like he is lying on the concrete outside a gas station at night, bleeding out of a wound. For 7 minutes, this song terrified and comforted me and, ever since then, I’ve been buying Jason Molina albums, Songs: Ohia albums, and Magnolia Electric Co. records. And when I started writing songs, I began speaking to Jason through an imaginary comradery, replying to him in my own music. He has been the single most influential musician to me and I am overwhelmed with sadness at his passing. I had felt something additional in the past year while listening to his records, something different and eerie. It felt like I was hearing the music of a ghost and so, last year, I wrote “For the Miner” pleading with him “don’t go now”. Perhaps I expected too much of him. I even feel guilty in a strange way. I loved his music, his pleading voice, his jangly guitar, his winced face, and most of all his candor. I am, in a huge way, a musician because I wanted to connect with him in his own language. I will miss you Jason Molina.
— Samantha Crain
“For The Miner” (Download for free on her website)
“It’s Easier Now”
Purchase Farewell Transmission: The Music of Jason Molina: Amazon; iTunes
Jason Molina: Website; Secretly Canadian; Graveface Records
Magnolia Electric Co.: Website; Secretly Canadian; Facebook
Samantha Crain: Website; Facebook; Twitter; Youtube