Thursday, October 29, 2009

Top 5 Mountain Goats Love Songs

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)

OH MAN. Then, there is the I-am-an-unpredictable-explosive-force-but-I-know-that-you-will-keep-me-safe love song. "Going to Georgia" is basically a perfect song. It's also the first Mountain Goats song a lot of people here. There is such raw, desperate power in this song--both the lyrics and the vocals--that you cannot help but give it your full attention; it commands you to listen, frankly. "Two big hands and a heart pumping blood and a 1967 Colt .45 with a busted safety catch" is one of the most terrifying-yet-gleeful images I can think of. Fun fact time: Pitr and I have a sweet Mountain Goats faux-cover band called Wolves in the Walls, in which we introduce ourselves as "Two Big Hands" and "A Heart Pumping Blood", respectively. (Was that fact not fun? Oh well, sorry. No refunds.)

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)

This is... this is just... gah. I can't even say anything. I am gushing, I know. This is why I don't write about the Goats that often, I get to this place where I want to jump up and down on people's faces, screaming "Why don't you love this the way I love it!" (Also, pause for a moment and notice that all these songs are less than three minutes long. The sheer amount of poetry-per-second is baffling.) Anyway. This is a simple song. There were hard times, the end was in sight, but at five in the morning, the narrator watches her sleeping and knows it's going to be okay, it's going to work out. Perfect.


Shira B. said...

As someone who has never really listened to the Mountain Goats but who has a ticket to see them on 12/1, I thank you, sir!

Alexis said...

I know this is kind of late in terms of the original posting date, but this post is incredible, and I'm glad that other people have the same sort of soul crushing love for the Mountain Goats as I do.

I also wish to nominate the lyric from "Alpha Incipiens" for best love lyric, "The only thing I know is that I love you and I'm holding on."

I think I would die if anyone ever quoted that at me. Of happiness.

jacqui said...

I'm glad that you said that you could include all of Tallahassee, but honestly I think Old College Try is one of the best Mountain Goats love songs. The imagery, especially at the end ("In the way those eyes I've always loved illuminate this place like a trashcan fire in a prison cell; like the searchlights in the parking lots of hell.") just gets me everytime.

I really like the list though. Kudos. :)

Luke said...

I appreciate the hell out of this.

Colin said...

Where is Jenny?