Friday, March 22, 2013

Jason Molina: 1973-2013

News outlets report that singer-songwriter Jason Molina passed away March 16, 2013, at the age of 39. He had been in poor health in recent years and a campaign was underway to help raise funds for his mounting medical bills. Molina is best known for the music he recorded under the names Songs: Ohia and Magnolia Electric Co. His music was noticeably influenced by American folk and country, and his unique voice was instantly recognizable. Molina's highly poetic lyrics often centered on the lives and concerns of working people, particularly in his home state of Ohio and the city of Chicago, which had become something of an adopted home for the musician. His protagonists were tired, anxious, uncertain about what their lives meant and where they might end up. But Molina expressed these pervasive anxieties with such tenderness that many of his songs have the comforting qualities of lullabies. I am reminded of a lyric from his song "Blue Factory Flame":

when i die put my bones in an empty street
to remind me of how it used to be
don’t write my name on a stone
bring a Coleman lantern and a radio
a Cleveland game and two fishing poles
and watch with me from the shore
ghostly steel and iron ore ships coming home
where i am paralyzed by the emptiness