Weird video but I saw the Mountain Goats sing This Year live on Thursday night as the last song in their Wellington set at San Francisco Bath House, and it was one of those perfect moments in a string of perfect moments at the gig.
Singer John Darnielle [called by The New Yorker 'America’s best non-hip-hop lyricist']announced it was the last outing of the year for his US indie band, and punched out This Year like it was his last song forever.
It's been an intense year for me - using the Henry James quote regarding what people want in literature - it's been a year of 'bliss' (centring around my book) and 'bale' (centring around my family), and a bit of bliss in the bale, and bale in the bliss, if you know what I mean. So This Year is aways turned up loud in my car with the line 'I'm going to make it through this year if it kills me' a great one to sing-along to. Talk about cathartic.
But Darnielle is like that - he rinses words out and wrings them so hard they're not only fresh and shiny again, they're a different shape.
Celebratory. Berating. Questioning. Sweet and gentle, too. At the Wellington gig, Darnielle stepped away from the mike sometimes and sang some of the sweetest lines into the crowd without amplification. Lines like the one about being 'desperate' in someone's arms.
Darnielle is funny and enigmatic on stage and the total professional, as you'd expect. He was also wearing a lovely jacket until he got too hot. After a solo turn, he was joined by his excellent bassist and drummer.
Darnielle has his own blog here which shows an unhealthy fascination with metal music and horror movies and Jamie Lee Curtis. And another blogger has a look at some of the MG songs and great lines here.
And we didn't get to hear Woke up New performed but it's one of those sweet ones with sudden knife-sharp insight, and is a better video than most of the MG ones on youtube. Lovely, really.