Back of All Eternals Deck Cover of All Eternals Deck

All Eternals Deck

Title: All Eternals Deck 1 2
Released: 2011
Label: Merge

Jump to the table of contents

Liner notes 3

(sleeve):

the Mountain Goats thank all named above plus Alyson, Juan, Jacob, Adam, Boche, Mac, Laura, and Hate Eternal 4

The All Eternals Deck predates Crowley's 5 tarot 6 by at least ten years; 7 its earliest known issue arises three months after the first recorded appearance of the Inhuman Impulse Deck,8 to which it owes stylistic debt. Beyond these few details, its exact provenance is less certain. The two differ in several ways: the IID was printed on rough stock in purple and black ink, the AED in full color on gloss; both decks are printed on stock sourced from the same supplier, but the former's press can't be identified, whereas the latter's has been positively traced to a pre-Depression print shop in Oklahoma City; the IID's instructions offer only one layout, the AED's three; etc.

The IID was a "trade" deck, sold by card-readers to other card-readers and to readers-in-training. It did not circulate among the general public. The AED, known to have been commercially available in various locations across the U.S., England, and in places farther afield (two decks, both heavily used, were found several years ago in Poland), may have been marketed to families as a parlor game, or to collectors of spiritualist arcana. The numbers in which it circulated are not known and estimates vary widely.

The cards themselves are derived from a common source (see several nearly identical cards, e.g. the Rose, the Cave-Dweller, and the Sick Twins9) but seem to have been drawn by different artists. The IID's drawings are less detailed than its successor's. The AED is also more hopeful than its predecessor, which may account for its wider reach; even its least favorable readings can be left open to more cheerful interpretation. It shies away from calamity. The IID, on the other hand, was almost unique among fortune-telling devices in that it freely predicted dire consequences and unhappy endings.

While the original plates for the AED have been lost, secondary plates were struck in 1951 using careful tracings of the originals as models, and these in the main are the cards that have come down to us. Several copies of the deck's original instructions, which came tucked into the pack in the form of a miniature 12-page pamphlet in small type, remain in the hands of private collectors; they refer to a card called the Half-Dragon, which is not found in any surviving or catalogued copy of the deck.

(booklet): 10

the room filled suddenly with the sound of a passing train 11

(raps under table with fist: "who from future time dost summon, I slumbering in memory," etc ad lib) 12

check for something behind floral arrangement 13

most spirit guides instruct the novitiate to send away any demonic spirit animals. we trust the seeker 14

in a former incarnation you struggled but knew great joy 15

a person known to you will make sudden contact 16

everything eventually takes place on film 17

expiation candles 18 available in bulk; our most popular candle 19

damn also their friends 20

re-scan everybody for disguises. somebody's hiding something 21

past life regression 22 is your best vacation value 23

roughly equivalent to the Tower 24 in standard tarot — avoid 25

turn over crossing card; pause 26

(booklet back):

'Fortune-telling cards with their evocative yet enigmatic images are signposts on the path to the inner self.'

from the preface to the instructions of the Biedermeier Jóskártya 27 (Gipsy fortune telling cards), Hungary, year unknown

(vinyl back):

The tab on the tea bag said
"Love what is ahead
by loving what has come before."
But what came before was no dream
you wake from, it was human sacrifice...

Jean Valentine, 'Diana' 28

All Eternals Deck had foreign releases in Japan and Australia. Two songs were extras solely on these releases: Brisbane Hotel Sutra on the Australian release, and Used to Haunt on the Japanese release. The Japanese release of the album contained strikingly different liner notes. You can see the original Japanese text here. Thanks enormously to Andrew Fazzari for transcribing these! Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find someone to translate these, and so there's potentially information about the songs hidden in the Japanese text. If you speak Japanese and would like to assist by translating the liner notes, please email me!

Early preorders of All Eternals Deck came with a bonus cassette, called All Survivors Pack, which included demos of many songs (Beautiful Gas Mask, Birth of Serpents, The Autopsy Garland, Estate Sale Sign, Soudoire Valley Song, Age of Kings, High Hawk Season, Never Quite Free, For Charles Bronson, and Liza Forever Minnelli) and several outtakes (Catherine Antrim's Kid and Rotten Stinking Mouthpiece).29 Finally, a fully unreleased studio recording of Rotten Stinking Mouthpiece exists.30

Table of contents

  1. Damn These Vampires
  2. Birth of Serpents
  3. Estate Sale Sign
  4. Age of Kings
  5. The Autopsy Garland
  6. Beautiful Gas Mask
  7. High Hawk Season
  8. Prowl Great Cain
  9. Sourdoire Valley Song
  10. Outer Scorpion Squadron
  11. For Charles Bronson
  12. Never Quite Free
  13. Liza Forever Minnelli

Damn These Vampires 31

Brave young cowboys 32
Of the near northside 33
Mount those bridge rails
Ride all night
Scream when captured
Arch your back
Let this whole town hear your knuckles crack

Sapphire Trans Am 34
High beams in rain
Drive wild broncos
Down the plain
Push up to the corner
Where the turbines hiss
Someday we won't remember this

Crawl 'til dawn
On my hands and knees
God damn these vampires 35
For what they've done to me

Tie those horses
To the post outside
And let those glass doors
Open wide
And in their surface
See two young, savage things
Barely worth remembering

Feast like pagans
Never get enough
Sleep like dead men
Wake up like dead men
And when the sun comes
Try not to hate the light
Someday we'll try to walk upright

Crawl 'til dawn
On my hands and knees
God damn these bite marks
Deep in my arteries

Crawl 'til dawn
On my hands and knees
God damn these vampires
For what they've done to me

Birth of Serpents 36 37

Let the camera pull back
'Til the fullness of the frame is clear and plain
Peer into the screen until you see it all
Like a vision in a crystal ball
Let it all fill with smoke
Is this somebody's idea of a joke

Let the fixer work 38 until the silver's washed away
And take the picture from the tray
Look hard at what you see and then remember you and me
And let the truth spring free
Like a jack-in-the-box
Like a hundred thousand cuckoo clocks
From the Oregon corners
To the Iowa corn
To the rooms with the heat lamps
Where the snakes get born

Crawl through the tunnel and follow
Follow the light northwest
See that young man
Who dwells inside his body like an uninvited guest
See the tunnel twist
Clutch your birthright in your fist

Let the camera
Do its dirty work down there in the dark
Sink low, rise high
Bring back some blurry pictures to remember all your darker moments by
Permanent bruises on our knees
Never forget what it felt like to live in rooms like these
From the California coastline
To the Iowa corn
To the rooms with the heat lamps
Where the snakes get born

Estate Sale Sign 39 40

Crude little wooden idols
And aviator shades
The trinkets and the treasures
We brought back from the crusades

Some guy in an Impala 41
Shakes his head when he rides by
But I remember when
We shared a vision, you and I

Worked hard to build this altar
We made it earn its keep
The cracks across its surface
Spiderweb while we're asleep

The sacrificial stains
All spreading out and soaking through
But I remember when
We kept it pretty, me and you

And high above the water
The eagle spots the fish
Every martyr in this jungle
Is gonna get his wish

Stock shots, stupid stock shots
From the Pomona mall 42
Set up like unloved icons
Gathering dust up on the wall

From films no one remembers
They call down silently
But I remember when their names
Were dear to you and me
Yeah

Pennies on the dollar
Everything's gotta go
The things that we can't even give away
I don't wanna know

Try to see if secrets burn
When you hold them up into the light 43
I remember when
We loved each other day and night

And high above the water
The eagle spots the fish
Every martyr in this jungle
Is gonna get his wish

Age of Kings 44 45

Halls of the stone tower in the foothills
Why should we hide from anyone
Held you in my arms for the first time that day
Felt like God's anointed when you didn't push me away

Gold light shining on so many things 46
In the age of kings
Gold light shining on so many things
In the age of kings

Lean on the concrete walls in shadow
Why should we wait to throw the switch
Felt your name burning like a tattoo into my skin
Rain on the clay tiles all night, your head nestled beneath my chin

Gold light shining on so many things
In the age of kings
Gold light shining on so many things
In the age of kings

In the lost age
Where the jewels hide
And the sword sticks
In the waiting stone 47
Still warm

Small chambers shrinking 'til they vanish
Wolves in the hallway gaining ground
Reach down to the moment when I should have said something true
Shadows and their sources now stealing away with you

Gold light shining on so many things
In the age of kings
Gold light shining on so many things
In the age of kings

The Autopsy Garland 48 49 50

One clear shot or else he gets away
Red sun high in the sky tonight
Look west from London 51 down toward Hollywood
Remember the first days in California

You don't want to see these guys
Without their masks on 48 52
You don't want to see these guys
Without their masks on

Fat rich men love their twelve year olds 53
Deco cuff links 54 and cognac by the glass
Look west from London toward the Emerald City 55
Remember Minnesota 56

You don't want to see these guys
Without their masks on
You don't want to see these guys
Without their masks on, or their gloves

Sweet spearmint and bitter tangerine
Bedside decked with roses
Look west, look west, look west and look away
From old familiar faces

You don't want to see these guys
Without their masks on
You don't want to see these guys
Without their masks on

Beautiful Gas Mask 57 58

Come hard through the fog
Blindfolded and bound
'Til we stand at the edge
Of a hole in the ground

We hold hands and we jump
And as we fall we sing
Paupers hammering the walls of the castle
Going to meet the king

Never sleep, remember to breathe deep
Never sleep, remember to breathe
Breathe deep

Crash in from deep space
Shot birds falling fast
Who will be there to catch us in his jaws
When we arrive alive at last

I can't hear you in the dark
Wish I knew where you'd gone
Know you're there, off in the shadows somewhere
Trying to soldier on

Never sleep, remember to breathe deep
Never sleep, remember to breathe
Breathe deep and breathe humbly
Secure your mouthpiece when you can 59

Toxic shapes adorn the walls
As we rise from our knees
Someone's coming to reward us, you wait and see
Or crush us both like fleas

Never sleep, remember to breathe deep
Never sleep, remember to breathe
Breathe deep

High Hawk Season 60 61 62

"One, two, three, and."

I heard the wings beat on the wind tonight
As the heat stole power from the darkening light
I saw the streets fill up with people that I knew
People who looked like you

Rise if you're sleeping, stay awake
We are young supernovas and
The heat's about to break

Drift through the streets, walk between the cars
Newborn sons and daughters spat forth from distant stars
The summer will reveal itself to those whose hearts are true 63
And to the faithless few

Rise if you're sleeping, stay awake
We are young supernovas and
The heat's about to break

Who will rise and who will sink
Who's going to stand his ground
And who's going to blink

Surge forward from Van Cortlandt Park 64 like frightened sheep
Spirit throngs that hoist us high, three thousand warriors deep
Spray our dreams on any surface where the paint will stick
Try to time the rhythm, listen for the click 65

Rise if you're sleeping, stay awake
We are young supernovas and
The heat's about to break

Prowl Great Cain 66 67 68 69

Gather jewels from graveyards
When I get home bury them again
Wonder if you'll ever get the chance 70
To ask me why I turned you in
I saved my own skin but I live to fight
I live to fight another day
Still remember how brave you were
When they came to take you away

And I feel guilty
But I can't feel ashamed
Prowl through empty fields, great Cain

Thought I'd seen the ghost up on the boulevard
Between the broken bits
It's hard to tell gifts of the spirit
From clever counterfeits 71
Sleepwalk through my days and mark
The hours until these dark times fade
Like a caterpillar
Crawling out along the surface of the blade 72

And I feel guilty
But I can't feel ashamed
Prowl through empty fields, great Cain

Rummage through the gutted storehouse now
And lick the sweat from my brow

Saw the trucks roll out this morning
Not sure when they're coming back again
Feel the prickings of my conscience
In my chest every now and then
Sometimes a great wave of forgetfulness
Rises up and blesses me
And other times the sickness howls
And I despair of any remedy

And I feel guilty
But I can't feel ashamed
Prowl through empty fields, great Cain

Sourdoire Valley Song 73 74 75

Bang the small rocks on the big ones
Til the small ones are sharp and clean
Catch something, kill something
New blade cuts real keen 76

And then the grass grows up to cover up
The firepit and the forge
Half a world away from the Olduvai Gorge 77

Chew these roots for a toothache
Chew these ones for atmosphere
Dream the pleasant dreams that people dream
When they grow up down here

And then the grass grows up to cover up
The firepit and the forge
Half a world away from the Olduvai Gorge

Take care of the old man
See if he's in pain
Have somebody stay with him
Comfort him when he complains

Keep to ourselves mostly
Few friends and fewer closer friends
Lead a long life if you're lucky
Hope it never ends

And then the grass grows up to cover up 78
The firepit and the forge
Half a world away from the Olduvai Gorge
Half a world away from the Olduvai Gorge

Outer Scorpion Squadron 79

If you really want
To conjure up a ghost
Cultivate a space
For the things that hurt you most

Rake the sands until they surface
Blind their tiny eyes

Stake out your position
Let your armor fall
Stay put til they find you
It won't take long at all

Rake the sands until they surface
Up they come, gone translucent
They're coming up no matter what
Fools rush in 80 and the doors slam shut

Ghosts of my childhood
Stay with me if you will
Find a place where there's water
Hold you under til you're still

Rake the sands until they surface
Don't let anybody call them ugly

For Charles Bronson 81 82 83

"This song is called For Charles Bronson. One, two, three, and."

Catch a lucky break
Try to make it last
Rig a blanket curtain up between
The present and the past

Play my lucky numbers
For most of what they're worth
Lie about my age 84 right down
To my last day on this earth

Set your sights on good fortune
Concentrate
Pull back the hammer
Try to hold the gun straight 85

Hit the gym each night
Stay cool and seldom speak
Keep the heart of a champion
Never let them see you're weak

And whatever they say
On your page three mention
Focus on the parts that make you feel good
Be grateful for the attention

Set your sights on good fortune
Concentrate
Pull back the hammer
Try to hold the gun straight

Try to hold the gun straight
And true
And steady
Let the frame find you
When the cameraman's ready

Work until I drop
Drift from place to place
Ehrenfeld, Pennsylvania 86 Scratched into my face

Set your sights on good fortune
Concentrate
Pull back the hammer
Try to hold the gun straight
Try to hold the gun straight

Never Quite Free 87 88

It's so good to learn
That right outside your window
There's only friendly fields
And open roads
And you'll sleep better when you think
You've stepped back from the brink
And found some peace inside yourself
Lay down your heavy load

It gets alright
To dream at night
Believe in solid skies
And slate blue earth below
But when you see him, you'll know

It's okay to find
The faith to saunter forward
With no fear of shadows
Spreading where you stand
And you'll breathe easier just knowing
That the worst is all behind you
And the waves that tossed the raft all night
Have set you on dry land

It gets okay
To praise the day
Believe in sheltering skies
And stable earth beneath
But hear his breath come
Through his teeth 89

Walk by faith 90
Tell no one what you've seen

It's so good to learn
That from right here the view goes on forever
And you'll never want for comfort
And you'll never be alone
See the sunset turning red
Let all be quiet in your head
And look about
All the stars are coming out

They shine like steel swords 91
Wish me well where I go
But when you see me, you'll know

Liza Forever Minnelli 92 93 94

There's the part you've braced yourself against and then
There's the other part
Steal up inclining northward streets
With some weird sickness in the dark 95

Saw your name on the sidewalk 96
Saw your brave face in my mind 97
If you're gonna sit next to the dealer
You get to bet blind 98 99

Never get away, never get away
I am never ever gonna get away
From this place
Lay down on the street
My eyes toward the sun
Your star next to my face 96

The compasses I came into this world with
Never really worked so good
Gentle shadows spilling down the hills 100
Up on Mulholland at Ledgewood 101

Turn back, turn back
Find someone to tell your secrets to
Dream past an old hotel on Ivar 102
And seconds later I saw you

Never get away, never get away
I am never ever gonna get away
From this place
Lay down on the street
My eyes toward the sun
Your star next to my face

Let the camera track me
From the footlights to the wings
Let me set aside an hour or two
In memory of sweet things

Regrind the lens again and again and again and again
But still the picture flips
Anyone here mentions Hotel California 103 dies
Before the first line clears his lips

Never get away, never get away
I am never ever gonna get away
From this place
Lay down on the streets
My eyes toward the sun
Your star next to my face

Brisbane Hotel Sutra 104 105 106

On the crooked road that took me north
And brought me home again 107
From the pit of writhing serpents
Out to the lion's den
Where the labyrinth is lightless
And the faithless wander crazed
Let the light rise from the darkness
Let his name be praised 108

From the sunrise of my childhood 109
To its premature demise
From my mother's best intentions
To my stepdad's seething eyes
From the hidden self-inflicted wounds
That flowered in later days
To the folly of their learning
Let his name be praised

In the holes the worms have eaten
Through all once-treasured things
From the wet mouth of the vulture
To the red tips of his wings
In the dazed eyes of the penitent
Emerging from the maze
In his wordless explanations
Let his name be praised

Used to Haunt 110 111

Tunnel down to the core
Climb through the trapdoor
Soft pink sky full of rumpled clouds
Radio up loud

There's a pop in the speakers
Where I hear your voice come through
So brave and true
When did I lose sight of you

Come and rattle your chain
All you want
You're always gonna be welcome
Here in the hallways that you used to haunt

Ride the sentimental rodeo
Down to where the shadows grow
Long while since I felt this way
Stand by the window, wait for day

There's a pop in the speaker
Where I hear your voice come through
So brave and true
Let me never lose sight of you

Come and rattle your chain
All you want
You're always gonna be welcome
Here in the hallways that you used to haunt

Credits

Thanks enormously to Andrew Fazzari, who painstakingly transcribed the Japanese liner notes. If you speak Japanese and would like to translate these, please let me know! Thanks to Flynn Germain for helping with some of the lines. There's clearly writing in the Japanese liner notes that are not contained in the English version.

Thanks also tremendously to Thomas Fidler (Drumhax on the forums), who transcribed and began these annotations, and as always, did an amazing job. Finally, as always, Caliclimber is my hero, whose outstanding collection of album art provided the images used here.

Footnotes

  1. Prior to releasing the album, John made this post on the Mountain Goats front page:

    Hi everybody. Hope you have all been well and are keeping warm as the colder months close in. So yeah: as you may have learned yesterday, we spent much of 2010 inside recording studios, safe from the vitamin-giving rays of the sun. I wrote a bunch of new songs, and then we recorded them all and set some aside because they didn't quite fit in with the others, and then there were thirteen survivors when we were done, which are now ready to claw their way to the surface.

    The album is called ALL ETERNALS DECK, and if you have ever watched say a 70s occult-scare movie where one of the scenes involves a couple of people visiting a storefront fortune teller, getting their cards read, and then trying to feel super-hopeful about what they hear when what they're visibly actually feeling is dread, then you have a pretty decent idea of what the album is all about. If you know the feeling of exultation that comes with having recognized the oncoming train of fate, then that's the other thing the album's about. JD, wouldn't it be easier to write an album of, like, love songs? Probably, I would not know, my focus is mainly death scenes and downtown Portland. It's not like there aren't people in love either dying or getting arrested at 3rd and Yamhill, so really, if you can stretch your definition of "love song" we can all be happy. Other possible points of reference include Burnt Offerings, Go Ask Alice, and that one scene in The Warriors where they're on the train and the sun's coming up and they're safe but you know the scars are permanent now. Reversals of fortune and faces at the window and sudden unexpected screams of triumph here and there. Possible exits from the long-locked basement. These sorts of moments.

    As with the last album, we treated the recording sessions as commando raids on several studios with a few different producers: at Fidelitorium with John Congleton; at Q Division with Brandon Eggleston; at Mission Sound with Scott Solter; and, as I said yesterday and am still jumping up and down about, at Mana Recording Studios with Erik Rutan. The album's coming out on Merge in the U.S. on March 29th, 2011; Moorworks has got it for Japan, and our good friends at Remote Control in Australia are holding it down down under, and will release it on March 26th. I hope we get to tour all those places and more next year!

    Here are the songs on All Eternals Deck. Their names, I mean. It would be totally premature to just post all the songs. See you soon!

    1. Damn These Vampires
    2. Birth of Serpents
    3. Estate Sale Sign
    4. Age of Kings
    5. The Autopsy Garland
    6. Beautiful Gas Mask
    7. High Hawk Season
    8. Prowl Great Cain
    9. Sourdoire Valley Song
    10. Outer Scorpion Squadron
    11. For Charles Bronson
    12. Never Quite Free
    13. Liza Forever Minnelli

    Mountain Goats news. Paging Jean Noblet. December 9, 2010. Retrieved November 25, 2015.

    Jean Noblet was a tarot deck from the Tarot of Marseilles, restored by Jean-Claude Flornoy.

    On the album as a whole:

    A lot of ghastly things and crystal-ball symbolism run through it, but there's more to it than that. There's a lot of abuse-survivor stuff, like 'The Autopsy Garland', which is about Judy Garland. And then 'Birth of Serpents', 'Outer Scorpion Squadron', and 'Never Quite Free', which are all more or less about me. It was a weird five a.m. revelation. Like, if The Sunset Tree was about living in the middle of abuse, this is more of a surviving record...

    The signal piece for me is Burnt Offerings, which is a movie that's almost exclusively about mood. In it, there's all this build-up to a chaotic last 10 minutes. There's this feeling of dread, which is a different thing from horror or terror; dread is just that awful sense that something terrible is going to happen. For those of us who are into horror, dread is a nice, sort of powerful feeling. It's not that you're afraid of something; you're riding that feeling. And that's what I think surviving stuff is about — learning to ride stuff like waves instead of letting it crush you.

    Breihan, Tom. Mountain Goats' John Darnielle Talks New Album. January 17, 2011. Pitchfork. Retrieved November 25, 2015.

    "For me, every album is a concept album — whether you're spelling out a story or not, it's whatever mood you're in when you're making the record. I think there's an idea of luck that tends to run through my stuff, the idea that you construct your own fate but you don't get to look at it until after you've already been through it. That's the heart of tragic vision, of Sophocles, who was sort of my muse: Our fate is not predetermined, but you will go through stuff because of the nature of how you are, and you don't know what that fate was until you've come through the fire. It's about coming to terms with your doom."

    Gross, Joe (2011). The SPIN Interview: John Darnielle. SPIN Magazine. Retrieved November 25, 2015.

  2. As the liner notes describe, All Eternals Deck is a fictional tarot deck. John has confirmed that it never physically existed:

    SPOILER ALERT FOR ANYBODY WHO, LIKE ME, PREFERS AMBIGUITY TO CERTAINTY

    DO NOT READ BEYOND THIS LINE IF YOU VALUE AMBIGUITIES IN YOUR LIFE

    There was no physical deck. The deck is a conceit described in the liner notes and is a governing concept that unifies the songs. Depending on how you define “exist,” the deck does or does not exist. I myself side with Plato, for the most part, and will go further and say that if I imagine something, then it exists. But the deck itself did not come with any limited edition release. The deck has not been seen in this world, or, at least, those who have seen it are not talking.

    William Caxton Fan Club, Would you ever consider reprinting the tarot deck..., retrieved December 23, 2016.

    A limited number of the vinyl recordings were clear or blue.

    Mountain Goats news. Our New Tape. February 17, 2011. Retrieved November 25, 2015.

  3. All Eternals Deck was released in Japan with markedly different liner notes, as mentioned above. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find someone to translate these - if you'd like to do so, please let me know! You can see the Japanese liner notes here, thanks to the transcription efforts of Andrew Fazzari and some partial translation by Flynn Germain.

    Similarly to the liner notes for On Juhu Beach, which were translated into Japanese by Kazuharu Miyagawa, a member of the postrock band Jamaican Cheek, the Japanese text in All Eternals Deck was written and translated by Tooru Yamamoto and Hiroaki Sakai, two members of the indie band moools. They mention that they added some explanations, so I'm curious what's in the text.

    Additionally, there are mentions of Burnt Offerings and Logan's Run, presumably related to High Hawk Season, and items from the Mountain Goats, Superchunk, and Extra Lens discography. We'll need to translate the liner to find out more, so if you can help with that, please be in touch!

    The Japanese edition also includes a page showing the discography of the Mountain Goats, beginning with Taboo VI: The Homecoming in 1991 and ending with All Eternals Deck in 2011. Notably, it includes Hail and Farewell, Gothenburg in 1995, listing it as "Unreleased". I am not aware of any other place where John has acknowledged this album as an official part of the Mountain Goats canon. Jack and Faye, for instance, is not listed, perhaps because it only included full-length albums. Transmissions to Horace, Taking the Dative, and Yam, the King of Crops, were also not listed, while Come, Come to the Sunset Tree was — an altogether strange list.

  4. Hate Eternal is a Florida-based death metal band. Erik Rutan, the group's frontman, helped record All Eternals Deck. Interviewed about the record, Rutan explained:

    That was one of the best experiences of my career! They're great guys, talented musicians, and it really challenged me, because it took me out of my comfort zone. The Mountain Goats are completely different from what I usually do. John was a fan of Hate Eternal and Morbid Angel, and he said he got the idea to contact me and see if I wanted to produce some songs after seeing a video of me working in my studio. I produced four of the sixteen songs on that album, and one of the songs that I did ended up being the single — they played it on the David Letterman show! And I remember seeing articles where they're talking about working with a death metal producer, and it was this big hoopla, you know — "Are the Mountain Goats Making a Death Metal Record?" — and I think John kinda ran with it. Seeing my name mentioned in any of those kinds of publications was kind of ridiculous, you never expect that, but the whole thing was a great learning experience for me, and I would work with them again in a heartbeat.

    And in another interview:

    Interviewer: I saw a few years ago you produced The Mountain Goats and then an Agnostic Front record. I think it's cool that you don't just stick to one thing. A person can't just stay put, you have to evolve and stay moving.

    Erik: Yeah, and when I think about death metal and all the bands I've produced, there are still bands I'd like to work with. The thing about other types of music is that it really challenges you. It's a whole different perspective. So I try to approach each album I do individually and try to make it have a unique sound to it rather than just making it the same. Growing up in New Jersey I grew up around Agnostic Front and back in Ripping Corpse we did a lot of shows with Sick of it All and Biohazard, a lot of hardcore. So I did a record [Empire] and an EP [Rebellion EP] with Madball, I did the Agnostic Front record [My Life My Way] then I did The Mountain Goats[(four songs on All Eternals Deck]. That was an awesome experience and learning experience as well. John [Darnielle, Mountain Goats writer/composer/guitarist/pianist/vocalist] is a super talented guy, the rest of the guys as well. So that was just awesome to do. It's a different style of music so it requires a different focus. If you listen to any of the albums I've done in my whole career, it's always been challenging. So I guess I just like to challenge myself to be better all the time. I want to be better at what I do and be a better person period.

    Kelly, Kim (2015). Hate Eternal's Erik Rutan Is Still the Nicest Guy in Death Metal. Vice. Retrieved November 25, 2015.

    Echoes and Dust (2013). Interview: Erik Rutan from Hate Eternal. Retrieved November 25, 2015.

  5. Aleister Crowley was an English occultist. He founded the religion and philosophy of Thelema, identifying himself as the prophet entrusted with guiding humanity into the Æon of Horus in the early 20th century. Crowley created the Thoth tarot deck.

  6. Tarot is a type of card deck both originally and presently used for card games. However, occultists began to use tarot decks for divination in the late 1700s, and they are primarily used for this purpose in the English-speaking world. Tarot decks have suits (which vary), cards 1 through 10, face cards, and a joker in the form of the Fool.

    Jean-Baptiste Alliette was the first to revise this standard deck for the purpose of occult divination, developing a 78 card deck based on the Book of Thoth, the Egyptian ibis-headed god of wisdom. This deck is divided into two components. First is the Major Arcana, which has no suit and contains the Chariot, Death, the Devil, the Emperor, the Empress, the Fool, the Hanged Man, the Hermit, the Hierophant, the High Priestess, Judgement, Justice, the Lovers, the Magician, the Moon, the Star, Strength, the Sun, Temperance, the Tower, Wheel of Fortune, and the World. Second is the Minor Arcana, which is split into four suits (swords, wands, coins, and cups), each of which contains the ten numbered cards and the King, Queen, Knight, and Jack face cards. This modified form persists through many modern tarot decks.

  7. Crowley's Thoth tarot deck was created between 1938 and 1943, but was not published until 1969.

  8. Inhuman Impulse, to the best of my knowledge, is neither a Tarot Deck nor a reference to anything else in particular.

  9. As far as I can tell, none of these cards have basis in real tarot.

  10. Each of the following lines were in white-on-black text in front of a corresponding image. Although allusions to some songs appear clear (such as "damn also their friends" with Damn These Vampires), there does not seem to be any key which conclusively pairs lines with individual songs, although there are 13 lines and 13 songs. I therefore cast aside speculation and allow the reader to determine any connections themselves. All of the images are black-and-white. Several images are of static with no text above them.

    There does seem to be a kinship between this image-poem and the ones seen in the We Shall All Be Healed microsite, particularly in Camera and Book, although truly the connection is throughout the entire site.

  11. Backed with an image of a revolver, a person's finger on the trigger.

  12. Backed with an image of the two of hearts.

  13. Backed with an image of the upper right part of a person's head with curly hair, their right eye looking up.

  14. Backed with an image of two hands holding each other, one with long nails.

  15. Backed with an image of two skulls.

  16. Backed with an image of a gas mask which has an upper row of teeth on the bottom.

  17. Backed with an image of two floating bodies facing away from the viewer, one apparently heading downward, the other upward.

  18. 'Expiation' simply means the act of righting a wrong, atoning for a sin, or similar (from 'to expiate', a synonym of 'to atone'). While I've been unable to find any practice which uses the term 'expiation candle', this may refer to votive candles, candles lit as offerings, usually in a church (but potentially at home or elsewhere), to symbolize prayers made for one's self or another.

  19. Backed with an image of a hand reaching towards the viewer.

  20. Backed with an image of a crowd.

  21. Backed with an image of a palm tree.

  22. Past life regression is a spiritual technique in which one individual hypnotizes another to recall memories of past lives. Such practices presume the existence of reincarnation and or some other mechanism by which a persistent spirit could experience multiple incarnations. The practice — at least, under this term — is strongly related to the spiritualist and occultist movements in the late 1800s, and presently to the New Age movement.

  23. Backed with an image of roses, the same image as on the cover.

  24. The Tower is a card in the Major Arcana of typical divination tarot decks. It is associated with danger, sudden change, and catastrophe. The card usually depicts a tower in flames, being struck by lightning, and people falling from it. The card is the 16th of the Major Arcana, following The Devil.

  25. Backed with a split image of — potentially — hands on the bottom with long nails, almost talons, and something on the top hard to identify.

  26. Backed with an image of what might be a horse from a carousel.

  27. Unlike the other tarot decks referenced in the liner notes, the Biedermeier Jóskártya tarot deck is a real Hungarian tarot deck. Specifically, these instructions are from the preface of the 36 card Cigány Kártya deck (literally, 'Gypsy Cards'). The English instruction preface reads as follows:

    Playing cards have been used for the purposes of fortune-telling since they came into existence some six centuries ago. Indeed, cartomancy is the most widespread technique of foretelling the future.

    Recent years have seen a notable revival of interest in cartomancy. Two factors account for this trend:

    First, mankind has always had a hankering for knowledge of what the future has in store not merely out of curiosity but often for immediate practical reasons, as a guideline in making important decisions.

    Second, in the early stages of his evolution man possessed a far more highly developed intuitive sense than today. Many people are now rediscovering that faculty as they explore their own inner selves.

    Fortune-telling cards with their evocative yet enigmatic images are signposts on the path to the inner self. Merely by focusing on our subjective perceptions we regain an awareness of an intuitive understanding which has long since been suppressed by the technological superficiality and the hectic pace of modern-day life.

    It should be added that cartomancy also possesses a high degree of entertainment value. Yet this is not to deny the possibility that the cards may reveal a great deal of truth. It is left to the discretion of the individual to decide how much trust he or she places in what the cards have to say.

    Herein lies the true fascination of cartomancy: it opens up a new approach to human understanding without prescribing literal conclusions.

    Instructional pamphlet, Cigány Kártya card deck, Hungary.

  28. Jean Valentine is an American poet and former New York Poet Laureate. Her poem Diana references the Roman virgin goddess of hunting and the moon, who was seen bathing naked by Actaeon while hunting. As he stared, she cursed him to be mute, or be changed into a stag, so that he might never tell anyone about her nudity. However, he called out to his fellow hunters, and immediately became a stag and was devoured by his own hounds.

    The poem in full is as follows:

    The tab on the tea bag said
    "Love what is ahead
    by loving what has come before."
    But what came before was no dream
    you wake from, it was human sacrifice:
    Diana was herself, and Actaeon, who saw her naked,
    and the stag he was turned into
    (who was God)
    and the blind dogs
    and the death of God
    "for the sin of seeing." God
    still childbearing, naked, seeing.
    Do we get another life? Oh yes.
    Maybe not in this place. Maybe in different forms.

    Valentine, Jean (2010). Break the Glass. Washington: Copper Canyon Press.

  29. When announcing the preorder of All Eternals Deck:

    Yea verily, the hills echo with the cry of the people, and the people cry, what is up with the preorder, JD. And lo, JD has heard the richly echoing cry of the people, or at least of the one or two people hitting him up about it on his Twitter. So here is the deal, and when I tell you it was hard to keep this stuff under wraps, I mean that somebody should totally give me some candy or something, or hire me to keep their secrets, because I have now totally proven that I am Good At That.

    So: anybody wanting to order the new Mountain Goats album, All Eternals Deck, can now do so right now, here. You have your choice of formats; while supplies last, each pre-ordered CD or LP comes with a free copy of All Survivors Pack, an audio cassette in a hand-colored sleeve old-school style, containing 12 songs that make up the surviving demos for All Eternals Deck. A couple of these songs aren't on the album, and a couple of songs that made the album don't survive in demo form; the tape's tracklisting is available at the link. This is our first tape since Yam, the King of Crops. Typing that last sentence has given me more raw pleasure than I can faithfully detail. A few select independent record stores will also have copies of the tape-and-album package, and my clairvoyance is indicating that somebody's getting ready to ask me "which stores?" but the spirits are mute on this question. Fellow vinyl hounds should be advised that clear vinyl in small numbers, and blue vinyl in very very small numbers, will be randomly mixed in with the first thousand copies of the LP, divvied up between mailorder and retail.

    We are so excited for everybody to hear these songs. Feel like we're emerging from a cave with glowing alien rocks we found hiding in a reflecting pool. Time to step outside soon and test the hills for echoes. As Number Six used to say: Be Seeing You!

    Mountain Goats news. Our New Tape. February 17, 2011. Retrieved November 25, 2015.

  30. William Caxton Fan Club. Two questions for you: 1) Will we ever hear the.... Retrieved November 26, 2015.

  31. "This is a song about how a person will sometimes come to your house that wants to stay there for a long time, and is kind of a thief, and he's only your friend if — you know what, I had a guy, I knew a guy when I was a teenager who would show up at the party and you didn't really want him to be at the party. Yeah, he would never leave, but he was sort of always there so it was like leaving and arriving were sort of not really issues with this guy. And one of the Shumpert brothers, our friends, named him Wonder Buddy, and explained it as follows: 'Cause you wonder, why is he your buddy?' I really loved that. This song is about, like, the more dangerous version of Wonder Buddy, like, Danger Wonder Buddy Mark 2, right, when he figures out that to really maximize on his oppression he has to start actually stealing stuff and/or harming people and/or kiting checks." — El Rey, Los Angeles, June 23, 2011

    "This is a song also about being in the middle of something that you know you are going to have to finish walking through, like one of those people in the movies walking through a fire, only it's not a movie, it's your actual life, and it really feels like real fire." —Rhino's Youth Media Center, Bloomington, June 26, 2011

    "I haven't figured out what exactly to say about it that is true and at the same time not over-long and ridiculously self-congratulatory. This is a song about a couple of people who are not quite clear how to stop damaging themselves, but they sure do enjoy their present condition." — Bowery Ballroom, New York City, retrieved November 26, 2015.

    "This is a song about your friends who seek to drain you of your life-force. They're still your friends, but they need your life-force. It can be hard navigating — I say navigating, but I mean even establishing — the boundaries of friendships like these, because certain things in these friendships are not navigable. One, you have life-force, two, your friends need it to survive." — Asbury Hall, Babeville, April 6, 2016. See also College Street Music Hall, New Haven, April 2, 2016.

    "This is a song about how sometimes you wish to curse all of the vampires." — Wexner Center, Columbus, April 11, 2011

    "... I didn't go crazy, nobody — I didn't, I spent zero nights in jail, it's all good. Unlike the John in this song." — Bowery Ballroom, New York City, March 29, 2011. Additional confirmation that this song is autobiographical is in William Caxton Fan Club, My favorite song of yours is "Damn These..., retrieved November 26, 2015.

    The song is linked to Steal Smoked Fish:

    The "Steal Smoked Fish" line is a reference to "Damn These Vampires" line, I'd think. The latter, earlier song is an exaggerated, romantic picture of the people in the song. The former, latter song is a clear-eyed view of the same people. There are no actual vampires.

    William Caxton Fan Club, In 2011, you released the song "Damn These..., retrieved November 26, 2015.

    In an interview about All Eternals Deck, John referenced the George A. Romero film Martin:

    There's the George Romero movie Martin. It's about a guy who's a vampire — or maybe he's not a vampire. Maybe he's just crazy. Yeah, he drinks blood. But maybe he doesn't actually need blood. Maybe he's just someone with uncertain motivations. That's the beauty of Martin.

    It's unclear if this directly inspired Damn These Vampires.

    Breihan, Tom. Mountain Goats' John Darnielle Talks New Album. January 17, 2011. Pitchfork. Retrieved November 25, 2015.

  32. Although the opening chords bear some resemblance to the Rocky Horror Picture Show song Science Fiction Double Feature, no link was intentional.

    William Caxton Fan Club, did you mean for the beginning of Damn these ..., retrieved November 25, 2015.

  33. As this song occurs in Portland, 'near northside' can be taken to mean the north side of Portland, which is divided between North and South by Burnside Street. (Chicago and several other cities have districts named Near North Side, however, these are unrelated.)

  34. The Pontiac Trans Am was a specialty package for the Firebird, typically upgrading handling, suspension, and horsepower, as well as minor appearance modifications such as exclusive hoods, spoilers, fog lights and wheels. Four distinct generations were produced between 1969 and 2002.

  35. Regarding this line and its parallel in Steal Smoked Fish (also discussed above), my friend and theologian J. R. Daniel Kirk asked John about the distinction. The conversation proceeded as follows:

    Kirk: Alright @mountain_goats Which is it? "God damn these vampires" or "God bless all vampires every night"? My prayers are so confused.

    John: @jrdkirk we travel great distances in our faith journeys n'est-pas

    Kirk: @mountain_goats indeed. Indeed we do. And if we're lucky, God, perhaps, goes with us. And hears it all.

    John: @jrdkirk (the direct answer is that the damning speaker is me in 1986. the blessing speaker is the person I became.)

    His article on the theological issues in Mountain Goats songs is worth the read.

    Mountain Goats Twitter. Retrieved November 26, 2015.

    Kirk, J. R. Daniel (2015). The Gospel According to the Mountain Goats. Retrieved November 26, 2015.

  36. "OK, so I'm in Portland, Oregon, which is a very strange place for me to go, right, I had what I, I mean, I assume everybody in the world has a dark year, at least one, you know, where you go, 'Wow, it's very hard to, like, the things that are redeeming about those years become triply precious because they were so redeeming compared to the other stuff going down.' And Portland was like that for me. It was a lot of rain, a lot of darkness, a lot of hard times, but at the same time there were like moments of tremendous sweetness that I managed to pull up from all that. But every time I go back there it just feels like this haunted landscape, you know, it's like, 'Oh my God, there's one corner where I did something I hope never to remember, but I do', right. And it's like every fucking corner is like that for me. And, you know, from 6th and Yamhill all the way on out to 13th and Taylor is some hard times, and I went on this long walk, and I have to cut a very long story short, I got a haircut, asked the hairdresser if he knew a guy I used to know, and he did, he said that yes, Quinn still works at Escape from New York Pizza in northwest. 'Really, like seven blocks from here, right?' 'Yeah, yeah, you can walk there!' 'OK, well, cool.' And I walked down to Escape from New York and I walked in, 'Can I help you?' I said, 'Well, I'm not really hungry, can I get, like, a lemonade', and I say in my heart, like, Quinn's there, I'm gonna say hi to Quinn, my friend from the 80s, a wildfire drag queen champion of the city. And a sweet, sweet, person. And I say, "Yeah, is Quinn working tonight?" and the guy looked at me like I had stepped out of a spacecraft, and said, 'Quinn?' 'Yeah, yeah, Quinn Richards.' And he said 'No, no, Quinn died just last year. He made it through the AIDS epidemic but he got hit by a car in front of the Plaid Pantry." And I walked home with a — in a really strange mindset. And I had this title sitting around for a long time, I slept for two hours and I woke up and I wrote the lyric and put it to bed for three months, and when I woke it back up this is the song that came out." — Cat's Cradle, Carrboro, April 8, 2011. See also Wexner Center, Columbus, April 11, 2011; Varsity Theater, Minneapolis, June 14, 2011; Lollapalooza, Chicago, August 5, 2011; The Metro, Sydney, May 6, 2012.

    "This is a song about a young fellow who goes up to Portland, Oregon and gets really into speed. He looks shockingly like me." — El Rey, Los Angeles, June 23, 2011.

    See also John's 2011 Pitchfork interview:

    I had this signal moment when I went to Portland at the end of touring The Life of the World to Come and I did what I always do, which is walk around where I used to live and look at things. I got my hair cut by this guy who lived in Portland when I lived in Portland, and I started asking him about people we used to know. He told me that somebody I knew was still working at the same place he'd worked, so I walked down there. But it turned out my hair dude's information wasn't current, and my guy had been hit by a car just a year before. It was weird. I had all these expectations about saying hello to my old friend who I haven't seen in 25 years. And, instead, he's dead. So I went to the hotel and slept. I woke up at 2 a.m. and wrote 'Birth of Serpents', which is this marriage of images and the personal stuff underneath them. It's one of the most personal things I've ever written.

    Breihan, Tom. Mountain Goats' John Darnielle Talks New Album. January 17, 2011. Pitchfork. Retrieved November 25, 2015.

  37. A demo version of Birth of Serpents was released on All Survivors Pack. Accordingly, Birth of Serpents is part of the informal series of demos.

  38. Photographic fixer is a mix of chemicals used in the final step in the photographic processing of film or paper. The fixer stabilises the image, removing the unexposed silver halide remaining on the photographic film.

  39. "This is a song for when you get your divorce. I want you to think of it like that way, like, you know, like some people think, you know, 'I finally got my ankh tattoo, you know, I've been looking forward to that. And then I got it. I'd been talking about it for years and I finally got my ankh tattoo, so I got that in, covered, you know.' ... If you run into these people on the street, they might say to you, 'Finally got my divorce!'" — Cat's Cradle, Carrboro, April 8, 2011

    "This is a song about some people. Well, I'm glad that you all are pro-people. That is a — that these two stand on the fence in the pro-people vs. anti-people great debate that we all live with every day of our lives." — Bowery Ballroom, New York City, March 28, 2011; Bowery Ballroom, New York City, March 29, 2011.

  40. A demo version of Estate Sale Sign was released on All Survivors Pack. Accordingly, Estate Sale Sign is part of the informal series of demos.

  41. The Chevrolet Impala is a full-size automobile built by Chevrolet for model years 1958 to 1985, 1994 to 1996, and 2000 to present.

  42. Pomona is a small southern California town east of Los Angeles in the Inland Empire. John started the Mountain Goats while attending Pitzer College here.

  43. On the demo, John sings, "When you drag them out into the light".

  44. "This is a love song." — Bowery Ballroom, New York, March 29, 2011. See also El Rey, Los Angeles, June 23, 2011.

    "This is a song that took place at a place where we were studying." — Wexner Center, Columbus, April 11.

    John explained that on the demo tape (All Survivors Pack) he nearly added an "insufferable 10 minute tutorial" on the chords for this song. — Bowery Ballroom, New York, March 29, 2011

  45. A demo version of Age of Kings was released on All Survivors Pack. Accordingly, Age of Kings is part of the informal series of demos. Additionally, Age of Kings is part of the informal series of Biblical references.

  46. In early drafts of this song, before it had its full form and intent, the chorus went:

    And it was me and my window and the night sky and the moon
    And the glow-in-the-dark model of the Creature from the Black Lagoon

    As John stated, "I missed the song that could have been, but I like Age of Kings better."

    The Creature from the Black Lagoon was a classic 1954 monster horror film. The film — and the Creature, also known as the Gill-man — had an enduring cultural impact on film, writing, and the public consciousness, visible even more than a half-century later in pinball machines, theme parks, and elsewhere. The Creature is considered to be one of the classic Universal Monsters, joining Dracula, Frankenstein, the Hunchback of Notre Dame, and many other famous monsters featured in Universal Studios films from the 1920s through the 1950s.

    Bowery Ballroom, New York, March 29, 2011

  47. A reference to the famed legend by which Arthur, King of Britain, obtained Excalibur, his magical sword. In some versions of the story, Arthur drawns the sword from the stone in which it is sunk, a feat which can only be performed by a true heir of Uther Pendragon, and thus the rightful King of England. (In other legends, Excalibur is given to Arthur by the Lady of the Lake.)

  48. "The song is directly about the death of Judy Garland in London in 1969. Judy Garland met a lot of people throughout her life who treated her badly: who abused her from a very early age. In the hands of these people she never had a chance. These are the people who you do not want to see without masks."

    William Caxton Fan Club, Hey, John, I have a burning question that I'm..., retrieved November 26, 2011.

    John has mentioned that this is one of his favorite tracks and very personal to him, and therefore unlikely to be played live.

    William Caxton Fan Club, Two questions regarding The Autopsy Garland: Do..., I was listening to All Hail West Texas in the sun..., retrieved November 26, 2011. 2

  49. A demo version of The Autopsy Garland was released on All Survivors Pack. Accordingly, The Autopsy Garland is part of the informal series of demos.

  50. Judy Garland was an award-winning American singer and actress, born in 1922 and dying in 1969. Her work included playing Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz and Judgment at Nuremberg. During her early years as an actress, she was sexually harassed and assaulted by people in the entertainment industry, including the head of MGM, Louis B. Mayer, who simultaneously constantly insulted her appearance (calling her "his little hunchback") and pressured her into plastic surgery and use of prosthetics. MGM pushed her to get an abortion that she didn't want in 1941, to use amphetamines and barbiturates to keep up with the workload and to lose weight, and controlled her eating so she would have the body type they wanted. She eventually progressed to using morphine, difficulties with alcohol, and other substances. Her life was plagued with multiple suicide attempts, placement in psychiatric hospitals, violent relationships, and other tragedies. She died at 47 of an accidental overdose of barbiturates.

  51. Garland had a home in Chelsea, London, where she died.

  52. When asked about the mask imagery in All Eternals Deck, John replied:

    It's funny, because I tend to do a lot of mental health talk anyway, so I'm going to go straight into some therapy-speak. Much of my life, I've struggled with this idea of whether I even had a 'real' self — maybe I was just this long sequence of masks that I put on for various audiences.

    Interview Magazine (2012). Performance Art: Rob Delaney Interviews John Darnielle. Retrieved November 25, 2015.

  53. Likely a reference to the sexual abuse Garland suffered at the hands of many people in the entertainment industry, but most notably Lous B. Mayer, the head of MGM; or at least the exploitation of her youth and talent by the same people. See this note above.

  54. Deco was a French design movement which spread across the world from 1920 to roughly 1950. The style featured symmetric, geometric forms, vivid colors, and modern materials.

  55. The Emerald City is the capital city of the fictional Land of Oz, and therefore a major location in arguably Garland's most well-known film, The Wizard of Oz.

  56. Judy Garland was born in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, and made her first stage appearance there at the age of two-and-a-half singing alongside her sisters at a movie theater owned by her father.

  57. "This is a song about hiding from things in fear." — Paradise Rock Club, Boston, April 1, 2011

    "... the fingers of dawn will greet you in the arms of your beloved, and the two of you will look toward the wealthy morning sky, and know that in its gorgeous portents, life is certainty of death, every single morning. That fact that you both know this is why you like each other so much." — 9:30 Club, Washington, DC, March 25, 2011

    "This song is one of those fever visions where I would tell you what it was about if I had any idea." — Strand, York, Pennsylvania, June 4, 2013

  58. A demo version of Beautiful Gas Mask was released on All Survivors Pack. Accordingly, Beautiful Gas Mask is part of the informal series of demos.

  59. On the demo version, John sings, "Secure your mouthpiece if you can".

  60. In the post announcing the album, John states:

    Other possible points of reference [for the album] include Burnt Offerings, Go Ask Alice, and that one scene in The Warriors where they're on the train and the sun's coming up and they're safe but you know the scars are permanent now. Reversals of fortune and faces at the window and sudden unexpected screams of triumph here and there. Possible exits from the long-locked basement. These sorts of moments.

    Mountain Goats news. Paging Jean Noblet. December 9, 2010. Retrieved November 25, 2015. John has further clarified many times that this song explicitly describes the final scenes from The Warriors: see Letters to Santa, Chicago, December 7, 2011; McCabe's Guitar Shop, Santa Monica, June 30, 2012.

    I'm not sure whether the other films mentioned are intended to refer to High Hawk Season, other songs, or both. Burnt Offerings is a 1976 horror film (based on the novel by Robert Marasco) about a dilapidated house that rebuilds itself by killing its inhabitants. Go Ask Alice is a 1971 novel which purports to be the true diary of a 15 year old girl and explicitly discusses drugs (especially LSD), sex, rape, sex work, homelessness, and other topics considered taboo (especially at the time). It has been the center of multiple censorship efforts. The novel is now generally believed to have been written by Beatrice Sparks.

    "That song was the second one I wrote after we moved across town here in Durham, right. And our new backyard — the hawks were landing in it, which I suspect they were doing because there were two new cats in the neighborhood, right, so they're checking it out. But, if you get more than one hawk, like, two hawk sightings in your backyard, in the space of a week, for an excitable animal person like me, that means you just won at life, you know, everything else is great once I, you know — I really love to have animals in my environment, I would live in a zoo if I could. And, but, yeah — this was this hawk on the back, and my wife knows a lot about birds and she was explaining how, you know, it does this — this is not going to translate well on radio but — they do this thing with their necks where they sort of look like they're kind of checking you out and they dart their — and that's because they're getting perspective to figure out whether they, how far you are from them, right, in case they need to eat you, right. And I thought that was awesome, so I got this really sort of surrounded vibe from them and I was, you know, there's something really neat about feeling surveilled by birds of prey." — WUNC session, April 8, 2011

  61. A demo version of High Hawk Season was released on All Survivors Pack. Accordingly, High Hawk Season is part of the informal series of demos. It is also part of the informal series of Biblical references.

  62. The Warriors is a 1979 film in which a New York City gang is framed for the murder of another gang leader at meeting of all the New York City gangs in Van Cortlandt Park. They are then forced to escape the park on the subway with the rest of the gangs pursuing after them, attempting to reach their territory of Coney Island. They finally reach Coney Island as the sun rises, many fights behind them.

  63. Potentially an allusion to Psalms 7:10:

    God is my shield, saving those whose hearts are true and right.

    However, most translations use a different phrasing (such as "My shield is with God, who saves the upright in heart"), so there may be no link between this line and the psalm.

    New Living Translation; Holman Christian Standard Bible, retrieved December 23, 2016.

  64. Van Cortlandt Park is a large public park in the Bronx, New York City.

  65. John has confirmed this refers to a click track:

    No - "click track," i.e., the metronome you track to if you're putting down a part that you're going to want other people to play on later. it's a pretty obscure line, the click track is kind of a profound meditation, one goes through many phases of love and hate with the click track. Scott Solter made me understand that the click isn't telling you what to do: you're telling it what to do. this very obscure realization makes it possible to play with a click instead of sitting there going I CAN'T PLAY WITH THIS THING CLICKING IN MY EAR.

    William Caxton Fan Club, Is the "listen for the click," line from High Hawk..., retrieved november 25, 2015.

  66. "You know how when you live in Cambodia in 1976 and the situation is very bleak, because the government isn't just bad but genuinely evil, and there comes a point where it's you or somebody else and you wish you were the kind of person who could say, 'Better — better I should go to the terrible place than sell out somebody who's not guilty', and you wish it really hard that you were that person, but you are not. You know how that happens sometimes?" — Bowery Ballroom, New York, March 28, 2011

    "This is a song about betrayal. A lot of songs about betrayal are about betrayal and redemption. Not this one." — Cat's Cradle, Carrboro, April 8, 2011

    "This is a song about a guy who gets out of prison. I'm with you, free all the prisoners. But especially this guy." — Visulite Theatre, Charlotte, January 31, 2012

  67. Prowl Great Cain is part of the informal series of Biblical references.

  68. In the Bible, Cain is the eldest of two sons of Adam and Eve. He kills his brother, Abel, in jealous anger when Abel sacrifices one of his sheep to please God, while Cain's offerings of his crops were rejected. God discovers Cain's murder and curses him to wander and that all his crops will fail, simultaneously marking him so that no others will harm him. Cain leaves to the Land of Nod, east of Eden, where his wife gives birth to Enoch. This story is one of the most famous narratives of a brother betraying a brother.

  69. This song takes place during the rise of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia (see John's explanation above), the totalitarian dictatorship which controlled Cambodia from 1975 – 1979. The Khmer Rouge, led by Pol Pot, orchestrated the Cambodian genocide, in which 1.5 – 3 million people (approximately 25% of the Cambodian population) are estimated to have been murdered or died as a consequence of Khmer policies. The brutal regime committed numerous acts of torture, mass murder, murder of religious and ethnic minorities, forced labor and relocation, and purges of its ranks, with over 23,745 mass graves having been discovered in the years after the regime's fall in 1979 in the Cambodian–Vietnamese War. Over 1.3 million people are known to have been murdered by the Khmer Rouge, many in mass graves collectively known as the Killing Fields. Other deaths were the result of famine and preventable infectious diseases spread by the Khmer Rouge's extreme and rigid enforcement of self-sufficient agrarianism.

    The rise of the Khmer Rouge resulted in part from resentment of the US-backed right-wing dictatorship that ruled Cambodia since its coup in 1970, the widely-opposed Vietnam War, and especially the Cambodian Campaign, in which 500,000 tons of bombs were dropped on Cambodia by the United States, killing over 100,000 mostly uninvolved Cambodians. This destabilization and aggression allowed the Khmer Rouge to position itself as a force of anti-imperialism, growing its previously small ranks to a significant force.

    Kiernan, Ben (2004). How Pol Pot Came to Power: Colonialism, Nationalism, and Communism in Cambodia, 1930–1975. Second edition. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-10262-8

  70. Also sung, "Wonder if you'll ever get the strength / To ask me why I turned you in". — El Rey, Los Angeles, June 23, 2011; Visulite Theatre, January 31, 2012.

  71. "people talk about the cat who ate the canary but the cat expression of deeper resonance is the one on your cat's face when it catches a robin and starts carrying it across the yard toward your house. it's not a satisfied look, it's a working look: not done yet, still gotta bring the bird inside the house, might eat it, might not, haven't decided, but yes, if I had time to stop and talk about it, I am pretty happy about this big bird in my mouth, it's bigger than the finches I'm usually knocking down, right? respect to the finches but look at this bird right here, check it out, I've been your cat for five years and you thought my robin years were past me, well guess again, let all the robins beware

    "that is the look I had on my face when I solved "what am I going to rhyme 'beyond the broken bits' with here" on the morning I wrote this song"

    William Caxton Fan Club, fishingboatproceeds: 42 Days of the Mountain..., retrieved December 23, 2016.

  72. A likely reference to a famous line in Apocalypse Now, Francis Ford Coppola's celebrated film adaptation of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, set during the Vietnam War. In Apocalypse Now, a platoon of US soldiers is ordered to assassinate Colonel Kurtz, a presumed insane former US Special Forces soldier who now lives as the leader of Degar troops inside neighboring Cambodia, where he is worshipped as a god. The events in Apocalypse Now take place in 1970, during the rise of the Khmer Rouge, and so is both temporally and geographically adjacent to the events in this song.

    During the briefing of US Army Captain Benjamin L. Willard, the leader of the US Navy assassination patrol, his superior officers play him a partial recording of Kurtz's radio transmissions, which opens with the line:

    I watched a snail crawl along the edge of a straight razor. That's my dream. Its's my nightmare. Crawling, slithering, along the edge of a straight razor — and surviving.

    The second recording is:

    But we must kill them. We must incinerate them. Pig after pig, cow after cow, village after village, army after army. And they call me an assassin. What do you call it when the assassins accuse the assassin? They lie. They lie, and we have to be merciful for those who lie. Those nabobs, I hate them. I do hate them.

  73. "Neanderthal is this branch of human development that doesn't seem to fit into the story. We have some fairly linear progressions, and then you have this little hook off to the side. For years, the theory ran that neanderthal man just went extinct. Either they didn't breed with cro-magnons, or cro-magnons wiped them out. We don't know what happened to them. This is no longer the operating theory, but it was the one that inspired me.

    "There is a William Golding book, The Inheritors, which operated on the theory that the cro-magnons hunted and killed the neanderthal. To me, that's a profound notion — one race of man hunting the other for sport. It's Planet of the Apes weirdness. I read these stories about the development of the species, and there's interesting scientific stuff about people faking evidence and everything. It's got this weird occult vibe of trying to construct a secret false history."

    Breihan, Tom. Mountain Goats' John Darnielle Talks New Album. January 17, 2011. Pitchfork. Retrieved November 25, 2015.

  74. A demo version of Sourdoire Valley Song was released on All Survivors Pack. Accordingly, Sourdoire Valley Song is part of the informal series of demos.

  75. Sourdoire Valley is located next to La Chapelle-aux-Saints cave in France, the first recognized Neanderthal burial site. In addition to a skeleton of a Neanderthal man, many flint stone tools produced by Neanderthals were found there.

    John has confirmed that the reference is intended to be towards La Chapelle-aux-Saints. William Caxton Fan Club, Why did you choose Sourdoire valley? Olduvai Gorge..., retrieved December 23, 2016.

  76. On the demo, John sings, "New blade cuts real clean".

  77. The Olduvai Gorge is an archaeological site in Tanzania, notable for the discovery of tools and fossils linked to early human evolution.

  78. On the demo, John sings, "And then the mud mounds up to cover up..."

  79. "This is a song by myself for people like me who... have a strong indwelling, evidently permanent, urge to damage themselves or cut themselves off prior to some accomplishment or arrival at a place of comfort and happiness. That — that didn't succeed in my goal of not bumming everybody out. In short, it is a song about trauma and surviving it." — Bowery Ballroom, New York, March 29, 2011

    Given that John has talked about this being related to the Sunset Tree, being written as one of the songs that blossomed in the time after his stepfather died, opening the song at least once by talking about his stepfather beating his mother with a vacuum cleaner, and the "ghosts of my childhood" line, I think it is safe to say this is about child abuse. He has further explained that Outer Scorpion Squadron is autobiographical.

    Bowery Ballroom, New York, March 28, 2011; Breihan, Tom. Mountain Goats' John Darnielle Talks New Album. January 17, 2011. Pitchfork. Retrieved November 25, 2015. See also Cat's Cradle, Carrboro, April 8, 2011.

  80. Fools Rush In is a famous 1940 song written by Johnny Mercer and Rube Bloom. It has been covered by dozens of artists, including Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Doris Day, Dean Martin, Julie London, Ricky Nelson, and many others, reaching up to #12 on the Billboard charts. The chorus has the line, "Just open up your heart and let this fool rush in".

  81. "This is a song about and for Charles Bronson. Charles Bronson was born in this extraordinarily poor coal mining town in Pennsylvania and legend has it, although you never do know with people who sort of get to tell you their own bios because nobody ever went to that little town to check it out, but he had, like, ten brothers and sisters and they were were rumored to have one dress to share between them as an item of clothing, so he only got one day of school when he was a child because when he went they all clambered him for his dress. And, he fled, like, a coal mining town, which I know sounds like something out of a movie but there's actually people who mine coal, and, like, that's some real stuff, right, so he gets out of high school and he flees to New York and studies with Strasberg, and says to himself,"I'm going to be in the movie business one way or the other.'" — McCabe's Guitar Shop, Santa Monica, June 30, 2012. See also especially Folk Music Center, Claremont, July 3, 2012, but also Bowery Ballroom, New York, March 29, 2011.

  82. A demo version of For Charles Bronson was released on All Survivors Pack. Accordingly, For Charles Bronson is part of the informal series of demos. Additionally, For Charles Bronson is part of the Song for ... series.

  83. Charles Bronson was an American film and television actor, starring in numerous western, war, and crime films. He frequently played roles where he fought in gun battles, most famously in the Death Wish series, where he plays a vigilante. Bronson grew up horribly poor, working in a coal mine at the age of 10 after his father died and occasionally having to wear his sister's dress to school as the family didn't have enough money for clothes. He fought for the US Air Force in World War II, where he was awarded a Purple Heart. In the latter stages of his life, his health worsened, and he stopped making films four years before his death in 2003.

  84. "But by the time he got his break, he was a little older than most leading men, so he just never told anybody when he was born. I kind of like Charles Bronson for that reason." — Folk Music Center, Claremont, July 3, 2012

  85. Bronson's most famous role was as the vigilante Paul Kersey in the Death Wish series. Many of his other roles were as a gun-wielding character.

  86. Charles Bronson was born in Ehrenfeld, Pennsylvania.

  87. "Do you know how there's that one person, or event, or thing, in your life that you feel you will never, ever, ever, ever shake yourself free of, and you've put in the work, you have done it and you've tried, and anyone who says that you haven't is an asshole of the first order, because you have spent many, many days and nights working on this, and maybe money at the therapist's office, and maybe you've gone into little dark holes of the world, taking all kinds of things to try to be free of this person or event... I wrote the song, I had a bunch of titles, I didn't know quite how to find a three word title that would describe the content of the song, and of course it must have three words because of the OCD, and then one day I settled on this, and it's called Never Quite Free." — Bowery Ballroom, New York, March 29, 2011. See also Visulite Theatre, Charlotte, January 31, 2012; Bowery Ballroom, New York, October 16.

    "This is a song about the nagging feeling that your demons will pursue you to the grave. I mean, I don't know that they will, but I can't assure you that they don't." — Bowery Ballroom, New York, March 29, 2011

    John has explained that Never Quite Free is autobiographical.

    Breihan, Tom. Mountain Goats' John Darnielle Talks New Album. January 17, 2011. Pitchfork. Retrieved November 25, 2015.

  88. A demo version of Never Quite Free was released on All Survivors Pack. Accordingly, Never Quite Free is part of the informal series of demos. Additionally, Never Quite Free is part of the informal series of Biblical references.

  89. Also sung with variations on, "But hear his hot breath come / Whistling in through his teeth". — El Rey, Los Angeles, June 23, 2011; Bowery Ballroom, New York, October 16.

  90. A reference to Corinthians 5:7 – 8, "For we walk by faith, not by sight, and we are confident and satisfied to be out of the body and at home with the Lord." Holman Christian Standard Bible, retrieved November 25, 2015.

    John has confirmed that this is the intended reference. — William Caxton Fan Club, Could you please tell me the lyric in Never Quite..., retrieved December 23, 2016.

  91. Also sung, "They shine like twinkling steel swords". — Cat's Cradle, Carrboro, April 8, 2011

  92. "This is called Liza Forever Minnelli, it's a true story." — WFUV session, May 3, 2011

  93. A demo version of Liza Forever Minnelli was released on All Survivors Pack. Accordingly, Liza Forever Minnelli is part of the informal series of demos.

  94. Liza Minnelli is the daughter of Judy Garland (sung about in The Autopsy Garland) and like her mother, an award-winning American actress and singer.

  95. Also sung with "scale" instead of "steal". American Theater Company, Chicago, May 16, 2010; WXPN session, May 11, 2011.

  96. The Hollywood Walk of Fame is a stretch of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street in Los Angeles, California, where thousands of brass stars commemorate famous actresses and actors, musicians, directors, and other entertainment figures. Liza Minnelli's star is in front of 7028 Hollywood Boulevard. 2

  97. On the demo, John sings, "Saw your brave smile in my mind".

  98. On the demo, John sings, "If you want to sit next to the dealer / You have to bet blind", which makes more sense given that betting blind is generally disadvantageous. Also occasionally sung this way live. American Theater Company, Chicago, May 16, 2010; WXPN session, May 11, 2011.

  99. A blind bet is a forced bet made by players sitting to the left of the dealer in flop poker. Two blinds exist — the small blind, which is placed by the player directly to the dealer's left, and the big blind, which is placed by the player to the left of the small blind. When betting starts, the player to the left of both blinds begins, skipping both blinded players. The blinds prevent players from folding without betting and keeps tournament games limited to a shorter duration, as players with small stacks will be forced to remain in the game.

    In response to a question about this line, John replied:

    I don't do lyrical parsing as a rule. It takes all the fun out of working out lyrics. If people are routinely getting something grievously wrong then I'll speak up from time to time, but nailing down meanings forever by saying "oh, here's what that means," no. A blind bet is a bet you are forced to make by virtue of your position at the table if you intend to stay in the hand. Beyond that you are on your own.

    William Caxton Fan Club, Hi John, can you shed any light on 'Liza Forever..., retrieved December 23, 2016.

  100. Also sung with "sliding" instead of "spilling". Old Town School of Folk Music, Chicago, April 19, 2014; American Theater Company, Chicago, May 16, 2010.

  101. Mulholland and Ledgewood are the streets immediately to the south of the Hollywood Sign.

  102. Ivar Avenue is a north-south street in Los Angeles, which intersects Hollywood Boulevard on the eastern side of the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

  103. Hotel California was a hit song by the Eagles in 1977. The song is about being seduced into life in Los Angeles and being unable to then escape it when the life turns nightmarish, using a surreal hotel as their metaphor.

  104. "This is an outtake from All Eternals Deck that I think wound up on the Australian issue — there's a long, boring story about why foreign presses get bonus tracks, it's really not very interesting. Though I always feel this urge to explain it, on account of I'm insufferable. But, this was a song that — it's one of those that we got really attached to, and then it just doesn't fit in with the others, 'cause we dwell really hard on sequence, we want — and we know that we're the only ones who care, right, but we still want the songs to be a sequence that if you sit and listen to it in that order that it does something, that it coheres as a picture somehow. And if there's a song that won't play with the others, then no matter how much we like it, it has to go.

    "And this was that one that I wrote — I mean, it's essentially — from time to time songs will crop up for me that belong on The Sunset Tree, right, but not to say they're as good as those or whatever, but they're in the same vein, right, they're from that impulse that will never be fully settled, right. But, then I don't know where to put them, 'cause they don't fit, so they wind up as bonus tracks or just live stuff, and this was one that I was sitting in a hotel room in Brisbane, Australia, having a wonderful life, being far away from home and playing music for strangers in a beautiful country and having a great time, and a mood descended on me, and I wrote a lyric, and I looked at it, and I said, 'Well, I don't know what to do with that', set it aside for a year or two, and then while we were in the studio in Kernersville in North Carolina, we tried it. It's called Brisbane Hotel Sutra." — Old Town School of Folk Music, Chicago, April 19, 2014

    More information about this song may be present in the Japanese liner notes — if you can help translate it so we can find out, please let me know!

  105. Brisbane Hotel Sutra is part of the informal series of extras. It was released as an extra on Australian versions of All Eternals Deck. Additionally, Brisbane Hotel Sutra is part of the informal series of Biblical references.

  106. Brisbane is the capital city of Queensland, Australia, and the third largest city by population in Australia.

  107. Likely a reference to John's moving to Portland, where he injected methamphetamine for a year before returning to Pomona, extensively discussed in many songs, especially those in We Shall All Be Healed.

  108. The entire structure of these stanzas echo Psalm 113:3, which states, "From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, / the name of the Lord is to be praised." Other stanzas have similar phrases, such as Job 1:21:

    Naked I came from my mother's womb,
    and naked I will depart.
    The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
    may the name of the Lord be praised.

    although these don't include the "From... to..." structure that John emphasizes, including the sunrise and sunset phrasing.

    New International Version. Retrieved November 26, 2015.

  109. Given the autobiographical nature of this song and its connection to The Sunset Tree (see above), this clearly refers to the abuse John and his mother suffered at the hands of his stepfather, resulting in John's drug use and self-harm, chronicled in The Sunset Tree and We Shall All Be Healed, as well as elsewhere.

  110. "'Used to Haunt' is about remembering someone who occupied a very important time and place in someone's life."

    William Caxton Fan Club, Hey! You're Q's favorite band. Why do you only get..., retrieved December 24, 2016.

    This song was used in the end credits for the coming-of-age film Paper Towns, based on the John Green novel. Green is a dedicated Mountain Goats fan and has included Mountain Goats references and songs in several of his books.

    Explaining why the song didn't make the cut for the main issue of All Eternals Deck, John explained that it was a sequence problem, similarly to Brisbane Hotel Suite:

    Here's the song in question, by the way – and we are so, so happy to have it out there. It was recorded at Mission Sound with Scott Solter at the controls, and it's a live recording - I think there might be one or two minor bass fixes and I'm sure there's a stray improv'd piano note or two that Scott took out with a razorblade, but what you're hearing is 99% us live in a studio in New York - I'm playing piano and singing at the same time, Jon's visible to me from my piano bench, Peter's in an iso booth with a glass door so we can all see each other. I'm always happiest when we can get a totally-live-or-nearly-so take down to tape; live takes are pretty rare in the age of ProTools, though not unheard-of.

    Anyway, we recorded it, and we really really liked it, but there were already three keyboard-driven tunes on side 2: "Outer Scorpion Squadron," "Never Quite Free," and "Liza Forever Minnelli." Those three along with "Age of Kings" are pretty much the heart & soul of the album for me, so "Used to Haunt" got benched, but we were so proud of the groove – it sits right in that 3-a.m. pocket. I wanted to write a song about memory, the sweet and the sad parts together. benching it was really hard for us (but one must sacrifice all in favor of a working sequence) and we're really glad it's out there now!

    William Caxton Fan Club, fishingboatproceeds: 42 Days of the Mountain..., retrieved December 24, 2016.

    More information about this song may be present in the Japanese liner notes — if you can help translate it so we can find out, please let me know!

  111. Used to Haunt is part of the informal series of extras. It was released as an extra on Japanese versions of All Eternals Deck.