Laughter

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Tributes to Jason Molina, and Some Friendly Advice

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photographer unknown – if you know when, where, and by whom it was taken, please leave a comment

Tributes and stories about Jason Molina are being shared by musicians and fans on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and on the Magnolia Electric Co. website, where Molina’s entire discography can be streamed for a limited amount of time. The following are just some of the tributes that I think are worth sharing.

Will Johnson’s memories of the Molina and Johnson sessions and his thoughts about the circumstances around Jason’s death sum up something I wanted to say and was feeling but couldn’t find the words for. I quote the end here, but it’s worth reading in its entirety:

In that last letter [from Jason] he suggested that I make a Homerun Baker baseball painting. He explained to me that his father used to deliver newspapers to the Hall of Famer, and it was said that later in his life Baker paid for everything with Indian Head pennies. I made that painting last month with Jason in mind, but never told him I’d made it. I meant to. Every time I looked at it over in the corner I thought of him, reminded that I needed to write soon. I don’t think reaching out would have changed history. I don’t think the story would have changed. It’s a matter of being left with the feeling of wishing I’d done something I just didn’t do.

Connect when the feeling strikes. Work on loving. Work to avoid regret. Because a lot of the time it’s hard to tell what the last time looks like.

Dan Gilles—a high school classmate and friend at Admiral King High School in Lorain, Ohio—wrote a beautiful eulogy for Jason, recalling his band The Spineriders and their mutual love for heavy metal. Hey says, “Jason was a genius in many ways and he used his genius to make great music and live an interesting life. For that alone, he will be missed, but he was also a genuinely friendly soul.” I hate the word genius because it’s tossed around so carelessly, but Mr. Gilles is right. Jason was a genius, and deserves to be recognized as one. By my estimate, he was one of this country’s greatest songwriters. And there’s no doubt in my mind he had one of the most powerful and striking voices of any singer I can name.

Friends, fans, and colleagues at the Electrical Audio bulletin board, including Steve Albini, have also been sharing their thoughts and memories. Some have started a Songs: Molina project to help raise funds for Jason’s family, who still have medical bills to contend with. Early interview footage and a pair of documentary videos are linked in that thread, including the Josephine documentary that originally appeared on Pitchfork. It’s a fantastic look at the way Jason worked in the studio and it provides a glimpse or two of songs that never made it onto the album, including a studio version of “Astrabel.”

One particular fan tribute that caught my eye comes from Katie Green, who drew this wonderful comic in place of writing words. Anyone who wants to say something or to help, but can’t find the words or another way to do it, should contribute to Jason’s medical fund via PayPal. The link to do so and information can be found here, at the bottom of the page. Even if you have written or recorded or drawn something, I’d still like to urge that you contribute. I wish I would have done it before he died, but his family still needs help, and that’s the best way to make sure that they get it.

Last, but not least, I’d like to re-post a letter Matthew Barnhart of Tre Orsi posted on his Tumblr. After mentioning to Molina that he was having trouble finishing some songs, Jason wrote the below message in reply, apparently at 6 AM, and on a phone since his computer was busted. It’s a great and inspiring read, and I think anyone interested in making any kind of art will find it helpful.

I’ll be looking for an old dictionary the first chance I get.

On Tue, Jul 1, 2008 at 6:04 AM, jason molina  wrote:

Thnx for nice words. Frgive shortening of words. No computer due to crash.  Thank god my demos are on cassette.   You too are a wonderful musician.  To define sngwrter is hard but I am glad you think I’m a decent one.  I am really a failed bass player.  I had to pick up the band to cover for our singer in the 80’s who got arrested before a show.   I was standing there and knew I wrote the lyrics and most of the music and just had to do it if the show would go on.   Here are a few ideas for you to try or not try. These are very basic but strictly followed for about three days…

You only get that coffee by the way after the first hour.      Wrking and writing within a system can really help when going through a bad time.  Its gold when it works and if it tanks,  well you tried.  Will give a few old tried and true  below till my fingers hurt.  Hope you are well.  I really love all of my time in your company.  It is a huge joke the the west virginian coal mining town hillbilly trailer park  songwriter has moved here. Fuck this towne  Downward mobility I’m lovin it. . Here is a list of a few songwriting kickoffs.

1.  Wake up one hour earlier than usual.  Don’t fuck around with this hour.   Have a glass of water and go to the toilet and sit down at a desk and write.  One hour and not on a computer.  Set a kitchen timer. Better to hear it ring from another room than to keep watching your watch   You aint writing a song or a poem or a msterpiece.   Just write.      It helps to have a good dictionary and one around 1950 is best since it has all you need and is prior to the gutting of so many importnt things.  Pick a page.  Just find a word you like not really random. Then write something like yhe opposite of the deffinition.  Or write a short eight liner about two random things out of the page in front of you. Pile of drgs and mark e smth and you got a fall song.  Personally think its dangerous.

2. A good book. Get a good and not cheap copy. Read about three pages prior to number one read it fast and reread and since its only a few pages take notes.   Also don’t listen to music at this time.  Just mining for ideas.  . Make your own lists and notes and hey you have these pieces and you will see how you can go frm here.    during that hour in nmber one exploit thatgood dxtionary.  Let it take you all over the place.   In about an hour you will have great words and nothing academic and you will easily put your own personal language and  matter material in the midst of such hard fought and won writing.   The music will be next.   That one is another chapter.   Take care. Yours in the good fight.  Hugs.
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

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Author: Laughter

I like music and philosophy. And baseball.

3 thoughts on “Tributes to Jason Molina, and Some Friendly Advice

  1. What a moving collection of tributes, and that letter to Matthew Banhart is special indeed. Thanks for gathering and sharing.

  2. Pingback: The Monthly List: 2013 in Review, Part One | Laughter

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