Jason Molina died last weekend. He was the singer, songwriter, guitarist–power behind Songs: Ohio and Magnolia Electric Co. He’s also one of the few songwriters whose words I love in the same way that I love poets’ words. And when I was far away and homesick for the Midwest, I’d listen to his songs and it wouldn’t necessarily hurt any less, but it wouldn’t be so lonesome. He wrote songs that sounded like a Midwestern winter night. He wrote songs that sounded like regret, and my heart howled along with raw ache.
I saw Songs: Ohia / Magnolia Electric Co. a lot of times with my friends, and every time was a wonder, a revelation. And strangely, it seemed every time, my friend Paul would poke me and say, “Look, it’s Jason Molina” and Molina would be standing off to the side of us, watching the opening act, too.
Last year, I read that he had been struggling with alcoholism, but it never occurred to me that he would die so young, 39, and of “natural causes.” I’m sad that his end was so painful. And, seflishly, I want more of his music and his words. I hope he rests in peace.
“I’m getting weaker. I’m getting thin. I hate how obvious I’ve been.”
update–my friend Paul wrote me this in response to my piece. He gave me permission to post it here.
thanks for writing stuff. i’m glad i have you to put into words just how important he is to all of us. i’ve been pretty good at being my usual detached self about it, but then glutton for punishment that i am, i google his name to see if there are any new articles about him. then i end up reading the comments and then end up on youtube listening to favorites that i had not heard in a while or watching concerts and reading more comments. i was surprised to find that there was another covers benefit concert for him last june.
i’m glad to find out he touched so many as deeply as he touched me. in an eerie premonition-y way, before i got your email on monday with the sad news, i was listening to the sound opinions podcast as i do most mondays and they have a segment called “desert island jukebox” in which they nominate a song that they consider suitable for being on your jukebox if you were stranded on a desert island… i’ve listened to this weekly podcast for at least 6 years and never thought much of it were that question posed to me. for whatever reason, monday, i thought about it and like lightning my choice was jason molina’s catalog. if i could only listen to one thing, for the rest of ever, that would be what i would choose.