Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Katharsis Apr. 28 '13 - Jason Molina Tribute

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

My fumbling, flawed, feeble yet heartfelt attempt to pay tribute to one of the greatest songwriters of my generation.

Download the show recording mp3

This was a hard show for many reasons. How does one do justice to such a brilliant and prolific artist in one short 2 hour show? With the vastness and quality of his recorded works he deserves several weeks of retrospection. However, I didn't want this to be an exhaustive compilation but a sampling that would entice listeners not as familiar with his work to seek it out while still offering something for those who are devoted fans. Much as I love Molina's recordings there are those out there who are so much more knowledgeable of and dedicated to him than I. Hopefully I did not disappoint them. Conversely, out of respect for regular listeners to the show who aren't Molina fans, I really wanted to keep this to one show. Furthermore, the sense of loss and sadness at the tragedy of his passing is still relatively fresh and it was hard to keep thoughts straight while doing the show. Trying to 'get it right' turned out to be an impossible task but a truly cathartic one.

I have loved Jason Molina's music for a long time. I was fortunate to see him play solo with Julie Doiron here in Calgary at the Night Gallery in November 2001 (prior to the release of Didn't it Rain). Doiron and Molina were supporting Shannon Wright on a cross-country tour. Funny, though I'm a Shannon Wright fan as well, I remember their spellbinding solo sets but not Wright's. I remember Molina with his glass of red wine in a sea of beer-drinkers. He seemed so refined.

I also remember seeing him play with his band Magnolia Electric Co. at the Hi Fi Club in October 2006. Before the Hi Fi show he was gracious enough to speak at length with me about his thoughts on touring and the music business and I remember him being very approachable, humble and unpretentious. A super-nice guy.

There are numerous written tributes to Molina on various web sites, much more informative and eloquent than this one. He was a foundational artist and hugely respected among his peers. That the folks who started the Secretly Canadian, Dead Oceans, and Jagjaguwar labels have stated that their record companies would not exist today if it weren't for Jason Molina speaks to just how influential and important an artist he was. It is worthwhile to read the eulogizing of the many musicians, producers, engineers, journalists, and music industry people (all of them huge fans) who worked with him over the years.
I hope that my comments on his battles with alcoholism and depression were not taken as callous or glib.  Depression is a complex, oft misdiagnosed and misunderstood sickness, and it, and the addictions that too-frequently accompany it, are not easily overcome. From the reading I have done in the past few weeks, I know Molina, his friends and family fought hard for his life and well-being. Unfortunately, the toll on his body was too much and his time on Earth came to an end sooner than any of us would have liked. A quote from his brother Aaron, sums it up so well:

"I want to thank everyone for the outpouring of support. It matters. There is so much I want to say about my kind, beautiful brother, but I lack his eloquence. Ironically, his life has been committed to making music that helps people in times like this and with two chords and one word he could break your fucking heart and give you hope all at once."

"It's been hard the past few years dealing with his stints in and out of rehab and the hospital, but through all the pain and struggle the last time I spoke with him he was in good spirits and hopeful, but he couldn't outrun the dark."   

I wish I had done a much better job throughout the show of giving context to the music. Despite my preparations words failed me. I trust that the songs speak for themselves and that those not familiar with Molina's work (or only familiar with bits and pieces of it) will have a greater hunger and appreciation for it after listening to this sampling.

He wrote and recorded so many great songs. It was painful to have to try and pare them down to 2 hours. I left out so many favourites. These are what seemed right for this show:

The tracks: [format: Artist - Song - Album (Label)]

Songs: Ohia - Our Republic - Songs: Ohia (Secretly Canadian)

Songs: Ohia - Ghost Tropic - Ghost Tropic (Secretly Canadian)
Songs: Ohia - Redhead - Axxess & Ace (Secretly Canadian)
Songs: Ohia - No Limits on the Words - Ghost Tropic (Secretly Canadian)
Songs: Ohia - Being in Love - Mi Sei Apparso Come Un Fantasma (Paper Cup)
Songs: Ohia - She Came To Me As A Ghost - Mi Sei Apparso Come Un Fantasma (Paper Cup)
Songs: Ohia - Darling You Are - Western Vinyl 7" (Western Vinyl)
Songs: Ohia - Blue Chicago Moon - Didn't it Rain (Secretly Canadian)
Songs: Ohia - The Gray Tower - The Grey Tower (Secretly Canadian)
Songs: Ohia - Just Be Simple - The Magnolia Electric Co. (Secretly Canadian)
Songs: Ohia - Almost Was Good Enough - The Magnolia Electric Co. (Secretly Canadian)
Songs: Ohia - The Big Game Is Every Night - The Magnolia Electric Co. Demos (Secretly Canadian)
Songs: Ohia - Ghost Tropic - Ghost Tropic (Secretly Canadian)
Jason Molina - Song of the Road - Pyramid Electric Co. (Secretly Canadian)
Magnolia Electric Co. - Hard to Love a Man - What Comes After The Blues (Secretly Canadian)
Magnolia Electric Co. - I Can Not Have Seen the Light - What Comes After The Blues (Secretly Canadian)
Jason Molina - It Costs You Nothing - Let Me Go, Let Me Go, Let Me Go (Secretly Canadian)
Jason Molina - Let Me Go, Let Me Go, Let Me Go - Let Me Go, Let Me Go, Let Me Go (Secretly Canadian)
Songs: Ohia - Ghost Tropic - Ghost Tropic (Secretly Canadian)
Jason Molina - Pyramid Electric Co. - Pyramid Electric Co. (Secretly Canadian)
Magnolia Electric Co. - The Old Horizon - Fading Trails (Secretly Canadian)
Magnolia Electric Co. - Map of the Falling Sky - Josephine (Secretly Canadian)
Magnolia Electric Co. - The Rock of Ages - Josephine (Secretly Canadian)
Magnolia Electric Co. - Talk to Me Devil Again - Fading Trails (Secretly Canadian)
Songs: Ohia - Ghost Tropic - Ghost Tropic (Secretly Canadian)
Jason Molina - No Hand Was At the Wheel - Autumn Bird Songs (Graveface Records)





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