I promised several lists about Mountain Goats songs, and I make good on promises, albeit days later and dollars shorter. (What?) Also, Rami, you are absolutely right about "Sax Rohmer #1". That song is a million bloody fists of fury hurling themselves at the door of heaven itself.
5. "Going to Queens" (from the album Sweden)
John Darnielle is just plain, damn-good at writing all the possible kinds of love songs. One of his real strengths is the "new love" love song, and for me, this song is the perfect example of that. This song captures that moment when everything speeds up and you realize, goddamn, I really do love this person. And it's never when you expect it--and it's never why or how, either. For this narrator, it's his lady coming out of a shower, dripping wet, while kids outside on the street are jumping rope and singing songs. Something singularly beautiful happens in that moment and the lover becomes "all [he] ever wanted", "all [he'd] ever need".
4. "Broom People" (from the album The Sunset Tree)
Another kind of love song that John can really knock the hell out of is the "Oh God, there is nothing in this ridiculous world that makes any sense, except for you" variety. This song always reminded me of my aunt and uncle, mainly because of the '36 Hudson he references in the first line. According to the man himself though, it's about a kid who gets terrorized in school, but falls in love with this life-changing girl--so even though he still gets the hell beat out of him by the jocks, he can handle it, 'cause he's got his girl. (That's nice, too.) I just love how triumphant it is... despite all the shit and mess and pet hair and "good reasons to freeze to death", this guy knows that when his woman comes over and they close the door, they get to share something that no one else has or understands. If that ain't love, well... I'd say "then I dunno what is", but come on, there's no question here--that's friggin' love, man.
3. "Going to Georgia" (from the album Zopilote Machine)
2. "International Small Arms Traffic Blues" (from Tallahassee)
Honestly, I could have put on all of Tallahassee, an album so earth-shatteringly, mind-bogglingly, noun-adverbially good, that it should be a required course in all US high schools. This is not pretty love. This is not sweet love. This is not lovely love. This is a painful, destructive, watch-the-hell-out, I-will-take-you-down-with-me love that has no respect or regard for anything but its own consummatory force. The cutesy-at-first-glance similes are the hook of this song ("our love is like the border between Greece and Albania", obv), but is there anything that sums this album up better than the bitter-and-yet-disarming admission "the way I feel about you, baby, can't explain it / you've got the best of my love"? Spoiler alert: Fuck, no!
1. "There Will Be No Divorce" (from the album The Coroner's Gambit)