On Saturday we lost a great musician you've probably never heard of. His name was Jason Molina, and he was an alcoholic. I listened to his music (particularly his work with Magnolia Electric Co.) for years, and always appreciated its mix of darkness and hope. It helped me through dark times, his aching voice seeming to suggest that despite darkness, things might turn out right -- not that they would, he was never that naive -- but that they might. Sadly, Molina died at age 39. Whether you know his music or not, I suggest you take a moment tonight to listen to one or more of his songs. Farewell, Jason. You will be missed.
"Hold on Magnolia"
From We Have Signal (the full show is below), with Magnolia Electric Co. Sample lyric:
Hold on, Magnolia, I hear that station bell ring
You might be holding the last light I see
Before the dark finally gets ahold of me
If you like that, this solo version from 2007 will break your heart.
"Just Be Simple"
A stirring solo performance by Molina circa 2007. Very different from the album full-band version, but equally powerful. Sample lyric:
You never hear me talk about one day getting out
Why put a new address on the same old loneliness?
Everybody knows where that is
We built that house of his
And when he's not home
Someone else you know always is
This is the first Songs: Ohia tune I ever heard, and I literally turned the car around and went to the record store (remember record stores?) to buy the album. This live performance is from 2003, and the video isn't great, but the audio is okay. The song gets started around 40 seconds in.
Solo performance from 2000 (the Songs: Ohia era).
"Leave the City"
Live in 2007 with Magnolia Electric Co.
Entire "We Have Signal" Show
Here's the full set from We Have Signal (which is a goldmine of great live shows).
"The Road Becomes What You Leave"
A documentary following Magnolia Electric Co. on a Canadian tour.
More on Jason Molina
For more on Molina and his passing, visit the Magnola Electric Co. site. You can also stream pretty much everything he ever recorded for free, for a while. See also: remembrances from Chunklet, Pitchfork, The New Yorker, and NPR.