Welcome to the Annotated Mountain Goats!
The objective of this website is to provide a comprehensive, referenced source for information about the lyrics of the Mountain Goats. John's commentaries and details about obscure references can all be found inside. If you'd like to contribute, please let me know! I'd love to hear from you and if I've gotten something wrong, or you have more information, send it in.
Many of the references are from comments John has made at live shows. If these are reported, it's always from a recording so it can be verified. All of these are available online, in the forums, or elsewhere. If you can't find the source and you'd like to confirm a quote, feel free to shoot us a line. Keep in mind that, as in my live show directory, the only quotes that are included here are those that I can find so that I can verify them.
Many references and excellent banter are left unannotated. The goal of this website is to help discover and understand the Mountain Goats as opposed to revealing every gem. Listening to live shows and banter yourself will continue to yield moments which cannot be had otherwise. Many particularly amazing descriptions are summarized rather than quoted, and a great deal of banter not pertaining to explaining a song are left for the listener to discover. John himself has said with some frequency that he doesn't believe in parsing every detail — that the meanings of songs change and should be interpreted by the listeners. That said, I love hearing what he thinks about his music, hence this website. So, please be careful with overanalyzing and avoid dogma as you use these annotations.
In compiling these documents, I have made three other pages of note:
- A list of live recordings I've come across over the years
- A list of the songs in series, including annotations about each series
- A complete index of known Mountain Goats songs
Pick the source you're looking for. Links indicate annotations, entries without links exist for this to function as a discography.
Table of contents
- Bonus media
- Online releases
- Unreleased or live-only
- Side and previous projects
|Beat the Champ||2015||Merge||CD/double 12" 45 rpm|
|All Eternals Deck||2011||Merge||CD/LP|
|The Life of the World to Come||2009||4AD||CD/LP|
|The Sunset Tree||2005||4AD||CD/LP|
|We Shall All Be Healed||2004||4AD||CD/LP|
|All Hail West Texas||2002; 2013||Emperor Jones; Merge||CD; CD/LP|
|The Coroner's Gambit||2000||Absolutely Kosher||CD/LP|
|Full Force Galesburg||1997||Emperor Jones||CD/LP|
|Nothing for Juice||1996||Ajax||CD/LP/promo cassette|
|Zopilote Machine||1994; 2005||Ajax; 3 Beads of Sweat||CD/LP|
|Yam, the King of Crops||1994||Oska||cassette|
|Taking the Dative||1994||Car in Car Disco Product||cassette|
|Hot Garden Stomp||1993||Shrimper||cassette|
|Transmissions to Horace||1993||Sonic Enemy||cassette|
|The Hound Chronicles||1992||Shrimper||cassette|
|Taboo VI: The Homecoming||1991||Shrimper||cassette|
|Moon Colony Bloodbath||2009||Cadmean Dawn||12" 45 rpm|
|Black Pear Tree||2008||Cadmean Dawn||12" 45 rpm|
|Satanic Messiah||2008||Cadmean Dawn||double 7"/digital|
|Devil in the Shortwave||2002||Yoyo||single-sided 12"|
|Jam Eater Blues||2001||Sub Pop||7"|
|On Juhu Beach||2001||Nursecall; Yoyo||3" CD|
|Isopanisad Radio Hour||1998||Yoyo||single-sided 12"|
|New Asian Cinema||1998||Yoyo||single-sided 12"|
|Nine Black Poppies||1995||Emperor Jones||CD|
|Songs About Fire||1995||Cassiel||7"|
|Songs for Peter Hughes||1995||Sonic Squid||7"|
|Orange Raja, Blood Royal||1995||Walt||7"|
|Beautiful Rat Sunset||1994||Shrimper||10"/CD|
|Chile de Árbol||1993||Ajax||7"|
|Songs for Petronius||1992||Shrimper||7"|
|Letter from Belgium||2004||4AD||7"/CD|
|See America Right||2002||4AD||7"/CD|
Collaboration records are put in the albums, EPs, or singles categories as appropriate, as given the nature of the Mountain Goats it feels artificial to me to distinguish between the nebulous nature of the regular band at times and a formal collaboration. True splits are listed below, along with true collaborations with bands outside the traditional Mountain Goats canon. Collaborations John makes with other bands released under their names are annotated on the miscellaneous collaborations page.
|Bedside Recordings Vol. 1.2||2003||Barsuk||7"|
|Tropical Depression||1997||Little Mafia||7"|
|Why You All So Thief?||1994||Sing Eunuchs||7"|
Appearances on non-Mountain-Goats compilations are annotated together on the miscellaneous page.
|The Hound Chronicles/Hot Garden Stomp||2012||Shrimper||CD|
|Ghana||1999; 2002||Ajax; 3 Beads of Sweat||CD|
|Bitter Melon Farm||1999; 2002||Ajax; 3 Beads of Sweat||CD|
|Protein Source of the Future… NOW!||1999; 2002||Ajax; 3 Beads of Sweat||CD|
|miscellaneous compilation appearances|
Media released in association with an album, generally containing demos, extras, or outtakes. For a complete list of such tracks, see the series page. Extras without bonus media are annoted with the album in question.
|Blood Capsules b/w Dub Capsules||2015||12" 45 rpm||Beat the Champ|
|Steal Smoked Fish b/w In the Shadow of the Western Hills||2012||7"||Transcendental Youth|
|All Survivors Pack||2011||cassette||All Eternals Deck|
|The Life of the World in Flux||2009||CD||The Life of the World to Come|
|Come, Come to the Sunset Tree||2005||LP||The Sunset Tree|
Albums or songs whose primary medium of release was an online studio, boombox, or demo recording. For Songs for Vamsidasa Babaji, see Heretic Pride.
|Seven for Australia||2008||digital|
|Three for Mike G||2008||digital|
|Hospicio de Huerfanos||2005||digital|
|miscellaneous online releases||digital|
Unreleased or live-only
Albums or songs which are entirely unreleased or which are only played at concerts, radio sessions, and so on.
|Jack & Faye||1995/6||info|
|Hail and Farewell, Gothenburg||1995||info|
|miscellaneous unreleased songs||(to come)|
Side and previous projects
|The Extra Lens/Glenns||Year||Label||Format|
|Martial Arts Weekend||2002||Absolutely Kosher||CD|
|Infidelity + 2||1994||Harriet||7"|
|The Bloody Hawaiians|
|The Threegos||1994||Cache Cow||CD|
|The Magnificent Bloody Hawaiians||1985||Anthropology||CD|
|The Seneca Twins|
Multiple Congress releases exist, specifically Full Term (1995), No Milk Since 1979 (1991), The Farm Out Back (1991), She Lies in Roses (1989), We All Fall Down (1985), Sleeping Under Angels' Wings (1985), and Election Year (1985). All were released under the Cache Cow label on cassette. They're not listed above since I've never been able to find copies of them.
The official Mountain Goats discography claims that there is a Seneca Twins demo. However, this is known to be incorrect, and this recording is actually a live show, and accordingly is listed in the live show page. One track off of a rehearsal tape is available.
John has occasionally released material under other names, such as the Comedians (an early name for collaborations between Darnielle and Vanderslice), Yamaraja Racers (a cover band for himself), and others. These are documented as if they were released as Mountain Goats titles, since other than the name they are indistinguishable from Mountain Goats material.
First, thank you, John Darnielle, for making music that has inspired and moved me so much, over and over again. Words cannot describe what your music means to me. Thank you.
I owe a huge thanks to one man in particular: Christopher MacMurray, often known as Caliclimber, who I became friends with at a show and who has encouraged my love of the Mountain Goats in every way possible. He's also produced several truly remarkable Flickr albums, which detail almost every piece of Mountain Goats cover art, related cover art, posters, and Extra Glenns and Lens cover art, from which I and others have cribbed heavily. Thank you for everything, Cali, you are the best.
I also would like to thank Jon Nall for producing his remarkable website, for being the Mountain Goats archivist, for unknowingly exposing me and so many others to information about so much great music, and for inspiring this website. Thanks for paving the way.
Many people have offered information, discussion, feedback, criticism, advice, corrections, and rare praise regarding the contents of this site. Particularly I would like to thank the denizens of the Mountain Goats forums for much discussion and analysis helping me to find more information, the Mountain Goats subreddit for similar reasons, and commenters on many websites (particularly on Songmeanings) for helping me track down obscure references. Of these people, three in particular stand out: Thomas Fidler, also known as Drumhax, Patrick Lickman, also known as echo, who spontaneously drafted entire pages about albums and spurred me to write more, and Stephen Plummer, a frequent chatter on #themountaingoats, whose impeccable memory and knowledge of live material corrected many errors in the live show directory.
Lastly, thank you to all fans of this amazing band for being an extraordinary community and for supporting excellent independent music.
The Annotated Mountain Goats in the media
To my utter shock, occasionally this website has been mentioned in print:
- The Mountain Goats homepage, where John posts everything he so desires related to the band, and especially the discography.
- Last Plane to Jakarta, where John blogs primarily about death metal and boxing, alongside some forums.
- Jon Nall's excellent lyrics website and the oldest Mountain Goats fan site.
- The Mountain Goats forums, the main Mountain Goats community.
- Reddit's Mountain Goats forum, another active fan community.
- Sad Young Cardinals, essays about the Mountain Goats
- I Hear Strange Music, excellent discographies from hometaping labels and musicians, including the Mountain Goats and related bands