R.I.P. Jason Molina


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I was first introduced to all that is Jason Molina a few years back. I was killing time with a friend I had known since grade school when he said he wanted to have me listen to some music. Well, one of the best feelings in the world to me is that which you get when you hear a song you immediately love and you just want to turn it into a fuzzy jacket that you never have to take off, so I was more than happy to listen to what he had to play. I’m glad I did listen that day; I was introduced to two of my favorite musicians. The first was Portishead, but that’s for another time. The second was Jason Molina.

“Roll the moon over my heart/Roll my heart out with the tide.” That’s the intro to “Talk to me Devil, Again” by Songs: Ohia, Molina’s first name for his art. It’s also the intro I had to Molina. Later on he changes it a few times and finally ends on Magnolia Electric Company, which is entirely different and completely the same as his previous musical ventures. I would describe his music overall as rock. There are significant country undertones as well. Themes of somberness and melancholy are prevalent in his songs. There are also frequent references to Midwest (I’m assuming) life: mountains, wolves, mules, weather, traveling, and more. His discography is layered with a thick dust of metaphors which sometimes leave you in deep thought trying to figure out exactly what he means when he “talk[s] to the mule on the mountain.” His vibrato seems almost forced, but it is appropriate as sometimes the song needs you to force yourself to explore a specific emotion to understand.

What’s equally as stimulating as the lyrics is the music itself. You could still easily feel what he is saying even if he made an instrumental album. The intro to “Hold on Magnolia” has been ingrained in my mind partly due to me having a subwoofer in my car (you will understand if you listen under the same conditions). For me, the actual lyrics of a song don’t mean as much as they probably should. Regardless of their content, if they swim gracefully alongside the music in the river of the song then I am happy. That’s why in spite of the general dark mood of Molina’s work, I still enjoy it.

Some of the songs I enjoy the most are “Two Blue Lights”– mainly for his duet with the female vocalist and the guitar riffs. “Montgomery”—this is a bit of a love hate relationship because the song is so great, but it is so short that it feels unfinished and leaves me wanting more. ”Hold on Magnolia”—for the aforementioned bass and clarity.

I wish I could have seen Jason perform live. I have watched some of his performances on Youtube, but I know they cannot compare to the real thing.

Jason Molina (December 16, 1973 – March 16, 2013)

Pablo Baxter is the host of Shuffle, featuring the best in music, news, and notable figures of the community. Thursdays at 2PM PST on WWW.KSSU.COM

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