“Being in love means you are completely broken, then put back together. The one piece that was yours is beating in your lover’s breast. She says the same thing about hers.”
– Jason Molina (1972-2013)
It is hard to put into words what your music has meant to me over the years. I discovered you in 2000, and shortly after listening to Ghost Tropic, I knew I had found a kindred, damaged soul from the cold shores of the Great Lakes. I have watched you play tiny venues in Chicago, exchanged head nods with you near the side exit, and listened in awe to your words on stage, in my car, in my bedroom, on my computer, in the shower, and in my head. Over and again.
“You’ll never hear me talk about one day getting out. Why put a new address on the same old loneliness?”
All I can say is that your final act on this Earth was a sad one. Your tragic end is only made more tragic by how few people have been exposed to your work. In a world where we objectify and make a mockery of artists like Amy Winehouse, it is easy to forget the dangers of substance abuse in our fast times.
But there is pain, and then there is pain. I do not pretend to know the struggles you had suffered in life, but in many ways, you channeled that grief directly through your music, and it resonates in that black pit which lives inside each of us. That electric blanket of misery so tempting to cozy up with and get lost beneath.
“I lived low enough that the moon wouldn’t waste its light on me. What’s left in this life that would do the same for me?”
You are this generation’s Neil Young, our Leonard Cohen; with the pen, with your voice, and through your achingly honest tenor guitar. For those who have not heard your music, I urge them to begin now. Your catalog is staggering. There is not a more prolific musician of quality writing who has performed over the past fifteen years.
Selfishly, I wish you were still here to bless us with more material, to break our hearts and put them back together again. Selflessly, I thank you for your contributions not only to music, but in offering a therapeutic ‘thing’ which can be listened to, taken to heart, learned from, and made better by.
“Arrow find my chestnut heart, a shadow for conjuring. Big black eyes to hide my secrets in, and the map of the old horizon.”
You will be missed, Jason Molina.