When you punish a person for dreaming his dream,
don’t expect him to thank or forgive you.
— The Mountain Goats, “Best Ever Death Metal Band In Denton"
I’ve been listening to the podcast I Only Listen to the Mountain Goats, which is a wonderful show about music, being an artist, and what it means to be a fan. Each episode, John Darnielle and Joseph Fink, the creator of Welcome to Nightvale, discuss one Mountain Goats song, and then invite another musician on to perform a cover of it. You’d think it would be awkward and strange, but their mutual sincerity and artistic passion transforms the concept into a revelatory one.
As you would expect, it’s sent me down a rabbit hole of revisiting the band’s albums. As a lyricist, I believe that John Darnielle is unmatched, and his songs always find new ways to make me smile with their cleverness even as they break my heart.
And I dreamt of a factory
Where they manufactured what I needed
Using shiny new machines
And the headstones climbed up the hills
— The Mountain Goats, “Palmcorder Yajna"
One thing that I love about Darnielle is that he’s also an amazing storyteller, both in his novels, and in his songwriting. Their latest album, Goths, is a bittersweet love letter to goth culture. It brought back memories of my youth, and the stories weaving through each song wrapped around me like a warm blanket.
There’s a club where you’d like to go
You could meet someone who’s lost like you
Revel in the darkness like a pair of open graves
Fumble through the fog for a season or two
— The Mountain Goats, “Rain in Soho"
Seriously, the podcast is worth your time, and even if you’ve never listened to the Mountain Goats, now is a great time to start.