Magnolia Electric Co.: “Just Be Simple”

In what I can only describe as the type of emotional gut punch that you’ll spend the entirety of your days trying to avoid, I read the news of Jason Molina’s passing earlier today on Facebook. 

Fucking Facebook.

Molina’s life and career is not the sort of thing that one places a final period on after seeing a quick update made by a casual acquaintance from Portland, Oregon who’s attempting to be the first of their friends to claim ownership over love of a man’s musical legacy. 

We shouldn’t be sitting around, fumbling with our devices, competing over who knew the deepest cuts in his catalog or who saw his final (no, really, his final) performance or making claims that we’d seen this sort of ending coming for him and why, oh why didn’t someone actually do something to help him? 

Jason Molina was a goddamn cowboy. 

He should have ridden off into the sunset, wrinkled with advanced age and hobbled from the wear and tear of one last hellacious thrill ride on the road. We should have been sitting in bars raising glasses quietly in his honor, years and years after that last perfect glimpse of him as he breached the horizon. We should be whispering our own versions of the stories that he told to our loved ones and wondering aloud, “Whatever happened to that guy?”

I never met the man and I only once had the privilege of standing a few feet away from him as he coaxed those haunting words and melodies from a place deep inside of his soul and presented them to us without expecting a single thing in return. Without ever coming into contact with him, his music changed the course of my life on more than one occasion.

I am not saddened by the loss of all the new material that he might of someday written. Over the course of two decades, he gave us more of his music and his life than we ever had truly earned or deserved. I am saddened that his story is one that is all too common in this day and age. I am saddened that he never found peace and was never able to quiet the anxiety he must have felt every single day. I am saddened that I never had the chance to express to him what his songwriting means to me, even if my words might have fallen upon deaf ears.

In truth, when I first saw the news this morning, I felt a bit silly for caring so much about the passing of a man that I only knew through the words and sounds that he chose to share with the world. In expressing these feelings of ridiculousness that were resting with me earlier today, I was told something that will most assuredly stick with me for the long run:

"There is no reason or method behind personal connections of soul and art. Things just exist, attractions just live - nothing actually makes sense if you try to find reason or answer. You feel the way that you do because he invited you into his world."

Thank you, Jason. Wherever you are, thank you for inviting all of us into your world. I hope that we didn’t overstay our welcome or track in too much dirt on the carpets.

"The night has always known when it’s time to get going,
when it’s really been so long that it starts showing.
It’s always had that ghost 
who always almost tells me the secret.
How there’s really no difference
in who he once was and who he’s become.
I think he’s been letting me win and I think he’s doing it again.
Thanks for letting me win.”

[Magnolia Electric Co. was released by Secretly Canadian in 2003] [Photo by Kyle Johnson]

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