The Jason Molina Alarm

Jason Molina

Jason Molina, the leader and architect of the bands Songs: Ohia and Magnolia Electric Co., has been on my mind a lot since news of his death emerged on March 18. He died a few days before that during a protracted hiatus from recording and touring. In 2011, fans, friends and peers helped raise money to support Molina’s long and ultimately unsuccessful recovery from alcoholism. I wish I had known then, and I wish I had contributed. I also wish I’d known how much his songs would possess me over the last month and a half, because I might have held off revisiting them for a while. As it stands, 45 days after Molina’s death, I cannot silence them.

I wake up every morning with a Molina song in my head, like an alarm. It strikes earlier and earlier each day; today it was 5:08 a.m. There’s no way of setting it or determining which song will play, or at what point in the song I’ll awaken. It just happens. Then the day starts and the other songs that weren’t chosen fall in behind like some kind of playlist medley that reshuffles with every sunset. They only halt in conversations, but even then, they try to interrupt me. Sometimes they succeed. Mostly, they just wake me up.

I started noting the songs a few days after they started, hoping to see if I could deduce some trajectory or meaning. I’m still going.

Only five or six of Molina’s two-dozen-plus albums are accounted for on the list. The majority of the songs from March recurred throughout April at least once until last week, when all six or seven minutes of "The Old Black Hen" unfolded in the dark. A few days later, the intro of "Whip-Poor-Will" — "Got my window open in the Southern Cross Hotel / It’s been my longest night I can tell" — repeated again and again, whispering dawn into my room. Then "Talk to Me Devil, Again" kicked in Wednesday morning, an obvious (and unpleasant) nominal coincidence that ultimately overpowered the next four or five hours. (At least it was the wonderful live version from Magnolia’s appearance on We Have Signal, with Molina’s halting, staggered choruses.) "Nashville Moon," a heartbreaking song under any circumstances but especially debilitating over the last 45 days, recurs the most (but just barely). A wider, deeper flow of songs rolls in and out throughout the day, but the songs below make up the Molina alarm clock. It’s literally all in my head, and I’m defenseless.

Anyway, is this happening to anyone else? They’re great songs, but the extended, involuntary exposure is… difficult. Either way, as helpless as I am against hearing them, I’ve decided to keep chronicling them until the morning I wake up to silence, or to anything else at all.

May 11 (update): "Farewell Transmission"
May 10 (update): "John Henry Split My Heart"
May 9 (update): "The Old Black Hen"
May 8 (update): "Just Be Simple"
May 7 (update): "O! Grace"
May 6 (update): "Just Be Simple"
May 5 (update): "North Star"
May 4 (update): "Nervous Bride"
May 3 (update): "The Dark Don’t Hide It"
May 2: "The Handing Down"
May 1: "Talk to Me Devil, Again"
April 30: "Josephine"
April 29: "The Handing Down"
April 28: "The Handing Down"
April 27: "The Old Black Hen"
April 26: "Farewell Transmission"
April 25: "Northstar Blues"
April 24: "Whip-Poor-Will"
April 23: "No Moon on the Water"
April 22: "Hammer Down"
April 21: "The Old Black Hen"
April 20: "Hammer Down"
April 19: "O! Grace"
April 18: "O! Grace"
April 17: "The Dark Don’t Hide It"
April 16: "The Dark Don’t Hide It"
April 15: "Leave the City"
April 14: "Tigress"
April 13: "No Moon on the Water"
April 12: "In the Human World"
April 11: "Hard to Love a Man"
April 10: "North Star"
April 9: "Hold On Magnolia"
April 8: "I’ve Been Riding With the Ghost"
April 7: "I’ve Been Riding With the Ghost"
April 6: "Just Be Simple"
April 5: "Northstar Blues"
April 4: "Lioness"
April 3: "Tigress"
April 2: "Nashville Moon"
April 1: "Leave the City"
March 31: "O! Grace"
March 30: "North Star"
March 29: "Nashville Moon"
March 28: "Josephine"
March 27: "What Comes After the Blues"
March 26: "Baby Take a Look"
March 25: "North Star"
March 24: "What Comes After the Blues"
March 23: "Just Be Simple"
March 22: "Hammer Down"
March 21: "Nashville Moon"
March 20: "Back on Top"
March 19: "Nashville Moon"

2 comments

  1. I just started to listen to something else after over 2 months of nothing, but Molina. That album was Dear Bo Jackson by The Weeks. Still listen to Jason Molina everyday. I hope you will check out my site http://www.ghostsofmolina.com

    • STV says:

      Thanks for the note and the referral, Andrew. I got on to some other records this week as well. Still awaking to stuff like… "Nervous Bride"? Crazy-making!

      Will check out your site!