Rest In Peace Jason Molina
On the evening of Saturday 16th March 2013, Jason Molina’s body finally packed in. Drink had done for him. He would not see his 40th birthday. His will ultimately be a very small footnote in the wider history of contemporary music, just another talented musician who died before he could get old. But for those of us who he had touched deeply with his music he was so much more than this.
The recorded legacy that Jason Molina has left dates from 1997 and the album Songs: Ohio. Under this guise and a roster of evolving musicians he released another nine albums the last of which gave him the title of his next project. Magnolia Electric Co. was born in 2003 and it is within their trio of studio albums that the very best of him can be found. Here he harnessed that fragile tenor to some stellar tunes that travelled a lost highway all the way from classic rock to country noir. Look no further than “A Little At A Time” from 2006’s Fading Trails to hear how good he really was; yet it is also a song that mirrors the acute pain of physical and emotional dislocation which he experienced throughout his life and would ultimately be his undoing.
Like many before him who have died young it is then tempting to trawl back through their written words for prescient signs of their demise. There were titles like “Farewell Transmission” and “I’ve Been Riding With The Ghost” as early as 2003, suggesting that Molina was always a dead man walking and then on “Nashville Moon” as if to affirm this sense of helpless desolation he sings “I’ve been on that road and it was darkness end to end, and I just headed for the dark again” A couple of years later “I Can Not Have Seen The Light” ironically offers some hope of salvation, yet this is a hope which has been all but extinguished by the time he has reached the release of his final record, last year’s unrelentingly bleak “Autumn Bird Songs”.
For all the sadness and trouble that undoubtedly followed Jason Molina around he was nothing if not an honest and straightforward musician and it is these attributes he brought three years ago to the recording of what would be Magnolia Electric Co.’s final album Josephine, where in the simplicity of the song’s arrangements he manages to produce an almost perfect traditional country record. Remember him this way.