Friday, April 22, 2016

The Mountain Goats - "No Children"

On February 24, 2003, about a month before I started dating her, I was emailing with my wife, who was just a friend at the time. But when I look at this email now, dear god, clearly I liked this gal. I don't spend this much time writing to somebody who doesn't mean a thing to me.

Anyway, we were chatting back and forth about several things. And in the midst of all that, I wrote this...

One of the great things about reviewing albums is that I often get my ears opened to music I wouldn't catch otherwise. Take the Mountain Goats, which is really just one guy. His new album is, basically, a concept album about a fictional married couple. They've been together for a few years, but things are falling apart -- they drink too much, they fight too much, etc. So, in order to save the marriage, they decide to take a road trip. "Tallahassee" is about how the whole thing goes wrong.

It's a great record -- I'm a sucker for marriage albums, since they are done so rarely. More often, music is about oh-I-love-you-and-you-love-me. Or, it's oh-I-love-you-but-you-don't-love-me. Not very often do you get something with much depth, that looks at a romance that's lasted more than a few passionate months.

Anyway, I love it. But it's depressing as hell. And it's not like I can stop listening to it -- I've got a job to do. But how often can I absorb these lyrics from the angry, fed-up husband to his wife:

I hope that our few remaining friends
Give up on trying to save us
I hope we come up with a fail-safe plot
To piss off the dumb few that forgave us

I hope the fences we mended
Fall down beneath their own weight
And I hope we hang on past the last exit
I hope it's already too late

And I hope the junkyard a few blocks from here
Someday burns down
And I hope the rising black smoke carries me far away
And I never come back to this town again     

In my life   
I hope I lie
and tell everyone you were a good wife
And I hope you die
I hope we both die

I hope I cut myself shaving tomorrow
I hope it bleeds all day long
Our friends say it's darkest before the sun rises
We're pretty sure they're all wrong

I hope it stays dark forever
I hope the worst isn't over
And I hope you blink before I do
Yeah I hope I never get sober

And I hope when you think of me years down the line
You can't find one good thing to say
And I'd hope that if I found the strength to walk out
You'd stay the hell out of my way

I am drowning
There is no sign of land
You are coming down with me
Hand in unlovable hand
And I hope you die
I hope we both die

Great, stirring stuff. That's one advantage music has over movies -- it compresses life perfectly into two minutes and 45 seconds.

I was speaking, of course, of Tallahassee and quoting from "No Children." Thankfully, my email did not scare the hell out of this woman. In fact, 10 years ago today, she married me. I am grateful every day for that. And I am also grateful that our marriage has never, ever resembled "No Children."