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Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Mountain Goats - "We Shall All Be Healed" (4AD, 2004) [key tracks: Home Again Garden Grove, Young Thousands]
"The ghosts that haunt your building are prepared to take on substance, and the dull pain that you live with isn't getting any duller. There's a closet full of almost-pristine videotape documenting sordid little scenes in living color..."
Today is a banner day for the site, because I am starting a new feature... I am going to count down my favorite 50 songs of all time! Yay for you! Yay for me! Yay Billy! In interest of saving this blog from becoming book-length every post, I will not expand too much on the songs except in response to comments, so I expect heated discussion in the comments section (please!). I will introduce one song per post, then discuss the album featured (and they will usually not have anything to do with one another). So today we start with...
Carl's Favorite Songs - #50 - Enjoy the Silence by Depeche Mode
"We Shall All Be Healed" was an important album for The Mountain Goats. Until this 2004 LP, John Darnelle recorded in fits and bouts... usually recording in one take, alone, and into a boombox. His songs covered many themes, often resurfacing as a series across many albums and singles. It was on "We Shall All..." that finally saw The Mountain Goats as a full band, in a studio, with an album completed as a coherent "whole"; a project planned and executed in singular mind. The result is a little hit and miss... gone is some of the frantic (and fun) spontaneity and legendary lo-fi sound, yet his talent as a proper singer/songwriter shines brighter than before. The album is a look into his past, a semi-autobiographical glimpse at the people he has left behind... slackers, tweekers, addicts, crooks, and nobodies. Inside this concept is a reoccurring ray of hope (John "got out" as they say), and a melancholy look at how one can't really go home again (nor should one want to). One of the highest points on this LP is the song "Home Again Garden Grove" with its brutal honesty about the way youth misunderstands their relationship to the environment, and how that comes back to bite you as an adult. The album ends on a similar fantastic note, the brilliant "Pigs that Ran Straightway Into the Water, The Triumph of"; a song, in my interpretation, about hope springing eternal... even in the damned. It isn't the greatest Goats album, but it was a watershed moment, and like all of their stuff, totally worth buying in any format.
The Mountain Goats are a very collectible band. As you can imagine (if you know anything about the lo-fi, DIY approach to music John takes), the entire catalog is a a chaotic mess of cassette only issues, limited print runs of 7" records, and a few indy pressings of the full lengths. It wasn't until 3 Beads of Sweat twisted his arm that he allowed to reprint a couple of the early LPs, and even (somewhat begrudgingly) released a 3 volume CD series collecting all of the odds and ends of his pre-CD era. The records, even of the latest releases, are hard to find. One album, "Come Come to the Sunset Tree" is actually an alternate version to the CD companion, and a pricey treasure for a Goats fan. The reason I bring all of this up is to help you appreciate the fact that I got this album for free. It came in the mail recently, apparently from Ebay or GEMM, but I never paid for it! I bid on this album a few times in the past, but the price always climbed outside of my budget. Imagine my surprise to get an anonymous record in the mail, but to have it be one of such a rare and beloved nature! The only thing I can imagine is that on one of my past bids, the seller had trouble collecting the winner's cash, and maybe over the stretch of time somehow pulled up my address. There was no return address, no invoice slip, no note... nothing. Maybe its LP karma coming back around (Lord knows I pimp music/vinyl enough to earn some of that!). So I guess what I want to do here is say thanks to the cosmos for delivering a third Goats album into my humble collection...
But next time send Kyuss "Wretch" or Flaming Lips "The Soft Bulletin."
Horns up.


Cassie said...

Oh man, there's no way I could list my 50 favorite songs. I couldn't even tell you my top 10! There's just too many to choose from. And what about moods? I mean, a #1 song today may be #15 tomorrow!

Carl said...

LOL. I appreciate your comment. Yeah it was hard to make a list, and like my friend Matt said, it would change daily. But I am determined to get through it, better or worst. The important thing is, would Enjoy the Silence appear in your top 100? 50? 10? Thats teh fire I am tying to stoke here. Thanks for visiting, please come back!

Matt said...

I think top 50 song thing will get interesting when you get to number 10. I'm wondering what Kings X song makes it.

jessica Thomsen said...

so the two songs you list as key tracks on the album are ones i've never heard...home again garden grove and young thousands...i'll have to find those somewhere and educate myself on some more amazing goats music:)

as for your top 50 count down, i wonder if i can guess a few of the songs that'll be on the list and how many i'll be surprised at.

talk to you soon!

jes said...

and a sidenote...your site automatically entered my name for the i'm not sure why it decided to call me jessica. hmm...

trying again with a name that sounds more like me...