Where strange fact and stranger fiction collide
My Geek Obscura series describes, things that people love to geek out about, but that have not quite hit mainstream culture yet for some reason or another. Today we will be focusing on the Mountain Goats. They are an OG alt-rock band, that have been around since 1991, and have influenced other performers such as Death Cab For Cutie, and The Decembrists, and are reminiscent of classic Dylan and Eliot Smith. They personify the old school DYI ethic, with some of their classics recorded on a Panasonic boombox.
Over 26 years the Mountain Goats musicianship has greatly evolved but what has always been constant is John Daninelle’s lyrics. He has recently written a few novellas and novels, and his progression from musician to author seems natural. All of his songs are story arc driven. His prowess with words have earned him the resect and admirations of musicians, novelist and story tellers of all stripes. Some of his biggest fans are Joseph Fink (Creator of DCoTU fav Welcome to Nightvale) John Greene (Author of The Fault in Our Stars.) Daninelle mastery over words is so powerful my most current advice for struggling writers who need help/inspiration is to listen to the Mountain goats.
Despite the band’s name tMG’s were in the begging just Daninelle. He is a complexes a character as those eh sings about. A feminists, pro-plan parenthood Christian, ex-junkie, abuse survivor, ex-psychiatric nurse, English major, vegetarian, who has finial found peace with his wife and two sons in North Carolina. In 2001 the band grew to include drummer Franklin Bruno and bassist Peter Hughes, though Daninelle’s spirit and inspiration always shines though.
Off all there band’s 16 records my favorite is 2008’s Heretic Pride. The eclectic songs discus things as diverse as a xenophobic New England horror author, the creator of the Fu Man Chu, A veteran with PTSD, anonymous sex in a bathroom trying to forget a lost love, the assassination of reggae performer Michael James. Williams (AKA Prince Far I), mythology, dragons, and the slasher from Halloween.
Here are some examples of the Daninelle’s amazing lyrics.
Lovecraft in Brooklyn.
Woke up afraid of my own shadow, I mean, like genuinely afraid
Headed for the pawnshop to buy myself a switchblade
Someday something’s coming from way out beyond the stars
To kill us while we stand here, it’ll store our brains in mason jars
And then the girl behind the counter
She asks me how I feel today
I feel like Lovecraft in Brooklyn.
Crators of the Moon
Empty room with a light bulb
When the phone starts to ring
Everybody gets nervous
Nobody says anything
The next day someone’s initials
Show up on the door
I think I’m going to crack
Can’t live like this anymore
Ugly things in the darkness
Worse things in store
In the declining years
Of the long war
Sept. 15 1983.
And on the floor Michael James Williams
Feels his fingers start to freeze
And the whole scene’s like a movie
Paramedics on their knees.
Try try your whole life
To be righteous and be good
Wind up on your own floor
Choking on blood
The heat drifts across the land
If I forget you Israel
Let me forget my right hand.
Marduk T-Shirt Men’s Room Incident
Stray syllables were gurgling
From her throat, one at a time
Face hidden from my view
I let myself imagine she was you
And when I washed my hands
I ran the water hotter than I could stand
Half rising to a crouch
Sinking back down to the floor
In your walking, keep your head low
Try to leave no traces when you go
Sax Rohmer #1.
Fog lifts from the harbor, dawn goes down to day
An agent crests the shadows of a nearby alleyway
Piles of broken bricks, signposts on the path
Every moments points toward the aftermath
Sailors straggle back from their nights out on the town
Hopeless urchins from the city gather around
Spies from imperial China wash in with the tide
Every battle heads toward surrender on both sides
And I am coming home to you
With my own blood in my mouth
And I coming home to you
If it’s the last thing that I do.
Those are some powerful words.
Recently Joseph Fink the mind behind Welcome to Nightvale started a new podcast called, I only Listen to the Mountain Goats. Where he Dannielle sit around D’ basement with celebrity guests and talk about politics, music, creativity, words, storytelling. This would be much like the conversations held in many apartments, and dorm rooms if 20-something hipster had the vaguest idea what they are talking about.
I cannot stress this enough. If you are a creative person listen to this podcast now.
Even though they are talking primarily about music, words and novel writing comes up a lot. There have been many times that I have intuitively or by experience discovered something about writing and then they explain it in simple English, the thing I do not have words for.
They are going through each song of tMG’s album All Hail West Texas. In the beginning they play the original version of the song and in the end do a cover of it. The only thing I wish was different was that they started with Heretic Pride.
So do your creative side a favor listen to the Mountain Goats.
Portland’s own Double Clicks covering the Mountain Goat’s You Were Cool.