Back of Ghana Cover of Ghana

Ghana

Title: Ghana 1
Released: 1999; 2002
Label: Ajax; 3 Beads of Sweat

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Liner notes

(booklet): 2 3

31 Tracks from 1991-1997
3 in a series of 3 compilations

YOU FOUL SPIRIT OF INFIRMITY 4

Among my many obsessions is a guy named Bob Larson, 5 who's like a televangelist, except he lacks the dubious gift that makes for good television; certain kinds of charisma are better suited to less aggressively "hot" media, such as radio or print, and Bob Larson is a case in point. His own personal crusade involves the devil, and the many ways in which Mr. Larson perceives the devil to be making inroads into our once-proud Christian culture. He seems to have cut his teeth on heavy metal, in the wild and free days of the mid-eighties, when guys with big hair were pied-Pipering the children down a gilded path to the open mouth of Gehenna 6 while their naive parents reassured one another with rationalizations. "It's just a phase," Mom says to Dad; "We had our music, and Jenny has hers," Dad says to Mom as Jenny's adjusting her spiked collar before the bathroom mirror, gearing up for the big Testament/Nuclear Assault 7 double-bill tonight at Fender's in Long Beach. 8

Meanwhile, per Bob Larson, the Lord of All Fevers and Plagues 9 is readying himself for the feast of souls. Time is of the essence. Somebody must be saved, and soon, or all will be lost. Lost! Naturally this was and is nonsense, as a brief moment's thought will reveal to any open mind. If the televangelists who believed in the God-defeating power of backwards masking were right, then all the young men and women who banged their heads to Mercyful Fate 10 and did not subsequently answer and alter-call to repent should by now be living horrendous and infernal lives. While we here at Mountain Goats HQ lack the funding to carry out the painstaking research that would determine the question once and for all, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that most unsaved ex-metalheads are probably doing just fine, and that God has not turned His indescribable Gaze away from them. No one can read the Mind of the Infinite, but it's probably safe to say that some guy from Denmark singing about Satan in an eardrum-rending falsetto isn't actually of much lasting spiritual importance.

But Bob Larsen has a radio show, and has written (or commissioned and ghost-written) plenty of books besides, and he seems fairly confident that demons travel through circuitry and speakers into the mortal souls of unsuspecting music listeners. We have been putting this theory to the test for years now, but have yet to reap any of the rumored rewards. Every last song on this record contains some permutation or other of a backwards-masked message whose gist is "He Who Was Banished into the Pigs That Ran Straightaway Into the Water commands you to send the Mountain Goats some really cool Asian pop CDs or cassettes, sooner rather than later, preferably that terrifying bubblegum stuff from Japan or Thailand." 11 To date only three people have responded. Good sign? Bad sign? The Sign? 12 It is hard to say. Here are the rest of the singles and compilation appearances, at any rate. I cannot promise you that playing them all backwards won't result in the opening of a portal into the Realm of Them Who Got No Faces. You are on your own here. Some of my very favorite songs follow. I earnestly hope you enjoy them.

— John Darnielle, Ames, Iowa, July 2001

This is 3BOS 1003.2. Released in 2002.

I don't suppose I could possibly convey here just how badly I want to make my thank-yous read like the credits from an album by Ratt or some similar, less known hair band. You know what I mean: "Special thankz to everybody who's stayed with us all the way to the top!!! We won't ever forget ya!!! To our moms: Love ya!!! You know it!!! To my little bro Davey: Told ya!!! See you at Deke's in late April… know what I mean!!!" and so forth. The lines you've just read, in fact, were the beginnings of just such an endeavor, but I lost my nerve. This, from the guy who since 1994 has played the same Ace of Base song at least a hundred and fifty times in public and never once apologized for it. Thanks to Tim Adams for his long-standing support of this whole project; to everybody who released the records on which these songs originally appeared, including but not limited to Dennis Callaci, Gregor Kessler, Brad Rose, Frank van den Elzen and Fred Maessen, Russell Hill, KSPC, Paul Lukas, Dan Sutton, Joel Huschle and Dan Varenka. Bottles of tequila to Chris Butler and Jon Nall for supplying source material when it turned out that the master tapes had all been sold to pawn shops during a blackout somewhere in the course of yet another season-long buying spree of limited run special editions from small private distilleries. Thanks to the nation of Ghana for lending its name to this collection. I know, I know: a lot of you are probably thinking right now: "Why Ghana? Why not the Ivory Coast, or Kenya? Is there something we should know?" Yes, there is. There is something you should know. I thank you for asking. Gotta say whut's up to my boys down at Lord Charley's! You know I don't miss spraying down those Yorkshire Pudding baking cups ha ha ha ha ha! Steve and Makan you know you're mission the kitchen! Aw Yeah! Thanks most of all to God #1 for seeing us through. To all the people who didn't believe: you know what time it iz! Awwww, yeah! And so on.

This is volume three of three compilations of Mountain Goats songs that have graced various formats and labels over the years.

(back):

Fig. 3 The White River Monster, 13 photographer unknown. Of special note is the absence of any properly monsterlike figure despite the scene's generally monstrous feel. Recommended musical accompaniment: Frank Sinatra's "Summer Wind". 14

Ghana compiles songs from four Mountain Goats releases: Songs About Fire, Orange Raja, Blood Royal, Taking the Dative, and Tropical Depression. The remaining fourteen songs are taken from twelve rare and old compilation releases, Object Lessons, The Wedding Record, Hey Dan K. (which was never truly released), We'll Sail Out Far… Maybe a Little Too Far, Cool Beans #4, Back to the Egg, Asshole, The Basement Tapes: A KSPC Compilation of Live Recordings, Corkscrewed, Goar #11, Hard Core Acoustic, Fast Forward 2, and Cyanide Guilt Trip.

Table of contents

  1. Golden Boy
  2. Pure Gold
  3. Papagallo
  4. Song for John Davis
  5. Stars Around Her
  6. Going to Port Washington
  7. Blood Royal
  8. The Only Thing I Know
  9. Raja Vocative
  10. Hatha Hill
  11. Going to Kirby Sigston
  12. Please Come Home to Hamngatan
  13. The Last Day of Jimi Hendrix's Life
  14. Orange Ball of Peace
  15. Standard Bitter Love Song #8
  16. Chino Love Song 1979
  17. Wrong!
  18. Going to Jamaica
  19. Alpha Gelida
  20. Wild Palm City
  21. The Anglo-Saxons
  22. Flight 717: Going to Denmark
  23. The Admonishing Song
  24. Anti Music Song
  25. Going to Hungary
  26. Earth Air Water Trees
  27. Creature Song
  28. Pure Sound
  29. Going to Maine
  30. Noctifer Birmingham
  31. Leaving Home

Golden Boy 15 16 17 18

"Hello there, Paul. 19 I had a take and I listened to it and I was ready to send it, and I thought, 'You know, it can be done better.' So, here it is then. Now I'm wearing my boots, which always guarantees a good showing."

You must try to lead a good life
You must do unto others as you would have them do 20
So that when you die, you'll find Golden Boy peanuts
Waiting in the afterlife for you

There are no pan-Asian supermarkets down in Hell
So you can't buy Golden Boy peanuts
There are no pan-Asian supermarkets down in Hell
So you can't buy Golden Boy peanuts
Yeah

If thine enemy oppresseth you 21
You must let him oppress you some more
So that when you go shopping in paradise 22
You'll find those magnificent peanuts from Singapore

With the drawing of the young Chinese farmer
The eastern sun behind him, smiling at you from the shelves 23
If we want to spend eternity in happiness
Well, we're gonna have to watch ourselves

You must give to the March of Dimes 24
You must be on guard against wickedness at all times
And you will find that your efforts have brought you great joy
When your spirit is munching on that Golden Boy 25

There are no pan-Asian supermarkets down in Hell
So you can't buy Golden Boy peanuts there
But the streets of Heaven are lined with shelves
And there's billboards of the Golden Boy everywhere

There are no pan-Asian supermarkets down in Hell
So you can't buy Golden Boy peanuts
There are no pan-Asian supermarkets down in Hell
So you can't buy Golden Boy peanuts
Go

Pure Gold

Pure Gold is annotated with Songs About Fire.

Papagallo

Papagallo is annotated with Songs About Fire.

Song for John Davis

Song for John Davis is annotated with Songs About Fire.

Stars Around Her

Stars Around Her is annotated with Songs About Fire.

Going to Port Washington 26 27 28 29

The trees were all decked out in their best fall colors
There was a snap in the air
When you eased down the window
And the New York sun brought out the highlights in your hair
And gently
Gently
The constellations aligned
And as we crossed over the Throgs Neck Bridge 30
I had something on my mind

When we rolled down the street
In the cool of the morning
I could feel the new day dawn
And somebody'd gone and turned the waterworks on
And slowly
Surely
I saw the whole story unwind
I had never loved anyone like I loved you
And I had something on my mind

Blood Royal

Blood Royal is annotated with Orange Raja, Blood Royal.

The Only Thing I Know

The Only Thing I Know is annotated with Orange Raja, Blood Royal.

Raja Vocative

Raja Vocative is annotated with Orange Raja, Blood Royal.

Hatha Hill

Hatha Hill is annotated with Orange Raja, Blood Royal.

Going to Kirby Sigston 31 32 33 34 35

We boarded up the windows
And we sealed the door shut
And we let the special chicken
Build a nest right by the window
Your face was glowing
The heat was strong
We ate cold, black eggs all day long
In the winter when the wind kicked up

I saw your body moving
Through the incandescent light
You were dancing by yourself there
Your sweater hugged your shoulders
And it was all right
We plucked sugar crystals from the cold English air
I had a present for you hidden somewhere
In the winter when the wind kicked up

Please Come Home to Hamngatan 36 37 38

Jewel thieves, jewel thieves
Leave fingerprints on everything
Jewel thieves, jewel thieves
Leave fingerprints on everything
But around here, around here
We never dust for fingerprints

Snake oil peddlers, 39 snake oil peddlers
We can spot 'em half a mile away
Snake oil peddlers
We can spot 'em half a mile away
But these days, these days
We drink a lot of snake oil

Adulterers, adulterers
Always give themselves away
Adulterers, adulterers
Always give themselves away
But down here, around here
Where the moose run wild and you can't think clearly
We let 'em off pretty easy

The Last Day of Jimi Hendrix's Life 40 41 42 43

On the last day of his life, Jimi Hendrix woke up
And made his way down the hall
And he adjusted the knobs in the shower 'til the water came out just the way he liked it
It was hot but not too hot
It was hot but not too hot

On the last afternoon of his life, Jimi Hendrix went to the kitchen
And he got himself a glass of water
He put four ice cubes into the glass
There is nothing like cold water
There is nothing

Orange Ball of Peace

Orange Ball of Peace is annotated with Taking the Dative.

Standard Bitter Love Song #8

Standard Bitter Love Song #8 is annotated with Taking the Dative.

Chino Love Song 1979

Chino Love Song 1979 is annotated with Taking the Dative.

Wrong!

Wrong! is annotated with Taking the Dative.

Going to Jamaica

Going to Jamaica is annotated with Taking the Dative.

Alpha Gelida

Alpha Gelida is annotated with Taking the Dative.

Wild Palm City 44 45 46

I see five fingers on each hand
I see only as far as my arms can stretch
After that it all gets kind of blurry

I see the air compressor vent from where it rises
Up from the hot ground but I'm not afraid
I see what's going through
It's you, only it's bigger and better and brighter

I got the sofa set up right here
I got a room, a room full of sand
Open up your mouth, and buddy, you'll wish that you hadn't

I feel the new day coming on strong
I see Cindy and she's talking up a storm
I remember her and I see who she's bringing
It's you, only it's bigger and thinner and wider

I touch the leaves of the plant next to me
They're thicker than they were the last time I touched them
But then it curls quickly around my hand

There are stars up there even when you can't see them
I'll tell you something that really bothers me
How are we supposed to get anything done
With those stars casting shadows that look just like spiders
Yeah, it's you, but this time you're coiled up much tighter

The Anglo-Saxons 47 48 49

"We'd like to dedicate this song to our friends, the former inhabitants of the British Isles. One, two, three."

They used to paint their bodies blue 48
A couple of them might be distantly related to you
According to Caesar they shaved their entire bodies 48
Except for the upper lip and the head

Yeah, the Anglo-Saxons
Yeah, the Anglo-Saxons
A subliterate bunch of guys
Though some sources say otherwise 50
Yeah, the Anglo-Saxons

Yeah, they were men on a mission
Preserving their poetry by a oral tradition
Yeah, oral tradition was all you'd get
Until St. Augustine brought them the alphabet 51

Yeah, the Anglo-Saxons
Yeah, the Anglo-Saxons
In 1065 they were raging
But 1066 brought the Norman invasion 52
Yeah, the Anglo-Saxons
Oh

Flight 717: Going to Denmark 53 54 55 56

Your bright eyes render all discussion pointless
Your bright eyes are gonna kill me for sure
I look at you and I know that the house will come down
Because your burning eyes are bright and pure

But there's a room for us
In a red brick building
By a bright green field
In Denmark

I've got a twitch in my leg and it makes me nervous
And I've got fifty cents in my watch pocket
And your name beating march time 57 in my blood
Putting pressure on the hollows of my eye sockets

There's a room for us
In a red brick building
By a bright green field
In a very old country

And my mouth is open
So you can stuff the bright red roses in
'Cause I feel the California sky
Closing in

There's a room for us
On the third floor of a red brick building
By a green field with a stream running through it
In Denmark
Yeah

The Admonishing Song 53 55

Tell me why
Tell me why
Tell me why
You lied

That was not a nice thing to do
Not a nice thing to do
It wasn't very nice of you
Not a nice thing to do

Tell me why
Tell me why
Tell me why
When you got caught in it, you told the same lie

That was not a nice thing to do
Not a nice thing to do
Wasn't very nice of you
Not a nice thing to do

Tell me why
Tell me why
Tell me why
You made threats against the life of the Prime Minister of Canada

That was not a nice thing to do
Not a nice thing to do
It wasn't very nice of you
Not a nice thing to do

Anti Music Song

Anti Music Song is annotated with Tropical Depression.

Going to Hungary

Going to Hungary is annotated with Tropical Depression.

Earth Air Water Trees

Earth Air Water Trees is annotated with Tropical Depression.

Creature Song 58 59

I remember the sound of your voice
But none of what you said
I remember the burning in my body
And the buzzing in my head
And I do remember your voice
Smoothing over my only choice

Oh, brave new world 60
That has such people in it
Oh, brave new world
That has such people in it

I can see the look on your face now
Yes, I can
Bright light dancing all along your eyes
And you covering your mouth up with your hand
Your bracelets jangled against your arm
No harm intended, no harm

Oh, brave new world
That has such people in it
Oh, brave new world
Brave

Pure Sound 58 61 59

"Hey."

The air was cooling down
The sky was blue
I was heading north on Taylor Street 62
When I ran into you
We stopped to talk
Right there on the sideway
The air was new and clean
I was in between times

The mountains were clearly visible
And your timing was cruel
You said almost everything right
And your eyes shone like little jewels
We were talking
While the temperature dropped
I was hoping against hope
That the wheel would stop
You were nineteen
I was in between times
Hey

Going to Maine 63 64 65

You and me are in a lot of trouble
And somebody's gonna burst our bubble
Your husband, my wife
My marriage, your life

Let's go to Maine out on the East Coast
Let's go to Maine right now
Let's beat the retreat, let's hop on the plane
Let's get out of here, let's go to Maine

Someone knows what's going on
Someone knows, and someone's gonna tell
Someone's gonna wrap us up in styrofoam and paper
And mail us flat rate 66 right down to Hell

Let's go to Maine out on the East Coast
Yeah, let's go to Maine right now
Let's beat the retreat, let's hop on the plane
Let's get out of here, let's go to Maine

Let's go to Maine out on the East Coast
Let's go to Maine right now
Let's beat the retreat, let's hop on the plane
Let's get out of here, let's go to Maine

Noctifer Birmingham 67 68 69 70

I had to stop and catch my breath
When the telephone rang out as loud as death
It was 3 in the morning
There was a low drone of katydids 71 behind your voice
And I came down
From Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 72
And I saw you by the highway

You asked me if the north was all right
And I said it got kind of cold at night
I could feel your bones shivering
Way down there in Birmingham 70
And I came down
From Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
And I saw you by the highway

You reminded me of all the things you'd given up forever
And you asked about the children and you asked about the weather
And then I came down
From Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
And I saw you by the highway

Leaving Home 73 74

We gathered up our worldly goods
Stole off in the dawn as quickly as we could
You were quieting the baby down
When we came to the dock on the outskirts of town

And looking back we saw China
Shrinking to the size of a coin
And then we saw water
Everywhere

When we climbed on board
They tied our things together with electrical cord
And then we set sail
As we held on tight to the cold iron rail

And I apologize, but I don't know what I loved more
You next to me there or the receding shore
We stood there in the cold
And the baby was six months old
We were passing him back and forth
When a cold, familiar wind came down from the north

And looking back we saw China
Shrinking to the size of a coin
And then we saw water
Everywhere

  1. Ghana, Nall, accessed October 31, 2014.
  2. Object Lessons: Songs About Products, Nall, accessed October 31, 2014.
  3. The Wedding Record, Nall, accessed October 31, 2014.
  4. We'll Sail Out Far… Maybe a Little Too Far, Nall, accessed October 31, 2014.
  5. Cool Beans! #4, Nall, accessed October 31, 2014.
  6. Back to the Egg, Asshole, Nall, accessed October 31, 2014.
  7. Basement Tapes: A KSPC Compilation of Live Recordings, Nall, accessed October 31, 2014.
  8. Corkscrewed, Nall, accessed October 31, 2014.
  9. Goar #11, Nall, accessed October 31, 2014.
  10. Hardcore Acoustic, Nall, accessed October 31, 2014.
  11. Fast Forward 2, Nall, accessed October 31, 2014.
  12. Cyanide Guilt Trip, Nall, accessed October 31, 2014.

Credits

Thanks as always to Caliclimber, whose Flickr page provided the album art and who painstakingly transcribed the liner notes. Although thank you to Harrison Lemke who helped me understand which Augustine was being referenced in the Anglo-Saxons.

Footnotes

  1. Ghana is a country located on the coast of western Africa in the Gulf of Guinea. The lines on the cover that go across the central southern part of the country are a map of the Ghanian railroad system, operated by the Ghana Railway Corporation since 1898.

  2. The liner notes to Ghana are part of the informal series of Biblical references.

  3. A good deal of the liner notes are explanatory comments on individual songs or groups of songs, or comments on other releases. These are footnoted with those songs or releases rather than being transcribed here.

  4. A reference to the suffering of an old woman, whom Jesus heals. The phrase originates fromLuke 13:11:

    And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself.

    King James Version, retrieved October 31, 2014.

  5. Bob Larson is an American televangelist. Like other televangelists, he performs religious services, appears on television and the radio, and performs exorcisms, often for a large fee.

  6. Gehennom is a site outside of Jerusalem which the Bible describes as being the site of ritual sacrifice of children by burning to Ba'al, Moloch, and other gods of Canaan. Accordingly, the location is purported to be cursed, and the term is also used to refer to an afterlife for evil people.

  7. Testament is an Californian thrash metal band. Nuclear Assault similarly is a thrash metal band from New York.

  8. Fender's Ballroom was a punk and metal club in Long Beach, California, from 1984 to 1989, closing after being declared a public nuisance.

  9. Lord of All Fevers and Plague is a track off of the debut album of Florida death metal band Morbid Angel, titled Altars of Madness.

  10. Mercyful Fate is a Danish black metal band.

  11. A reference to the Exorcism of the Gerasene, a miracle of Jesus told in the Gospels of Mark, Matthew, and Luke, in which Jesus casts the demons Legion out of the body of a man. At the demons' request, they enter a herd of two thousand pigs, who drown themselves in a nearby lake.

    Later, Pigs That Ran Straightaway Into the Water, Triumph Of would become a Mountain Goats song on the album We Shall All Be Healed.

  12. Referring to The Sign, a blockbuster pop hit by Swedish band Ace of Base, covered by the Mountain Goats numerous times and with a released version on the Songs for Peter Hughes EP, and alluded to again later in the liner notes.

  13. The White River Monster is a supposed water monster living near the White River in Arkansas. Some cryptozoologists claim that the monster might have been an elephant seal, however, that claim also stretches some credulity.

  14. Originally written by Heinz Meier and Johnny Mercer, Summer Wind is a hit 1965 song recorded by Wayne Newton. Its most famous version was played in 1966 by Frank Sinatra, charting even higher than Newton's original hit. The song has had many covers over the years.

  15. "Sometimes backwards masking isn't necessary, of course; sometimes you just want to evangelize outright. People get mad when they request this song and I say I don't know how to play it. I don't, though. I wrote it in one sitting while my wife was in Thailand recruiting soldiers for our Army of Radio Shack Pastry Chefs. I can tell you now, though, that hand-held keyboards taste awful with or without a delicious peanut sauce." — Ghana liner notes

    "On returning to my hometown of Claremont, California, on the occasion of a friend's wedding in July of 1997, I was greatly saddened to learn that the Bang Luck Market had closed. Since the early '80s the Bang Luck had been the only Asian market east of the San Gabriel Valley that could lay true claim to the title 'Supermarket.' They had it all at the Bang Luck: Filipino canned goods, Korean ramen, Thai medicinals, Vietnamese pickled jackfruit, Japanese candies, and Golden Boy Peanuts, which were remarkable for their packaging, for their country of origin, and for the inclusion of 'salt' in the listed ingredients. I ate hundreds of them on numerous and diverse occasions, and I can assure you that no jury in the world would convict them of having been salted." — Object Lessons: Songs About Products liner notes

    "This is a rather stupid song." — Amoeba Music, San Francisco, August 22, 2006. See also Swedish-American Hall, San Francisco, February 25, 2009.

    "I remember the moment when I consciously decided to stop writing songs of that nature. And like, only do them when sort of, there was, you know, an occasion for it. I started doing what I do here at open mic night at Pitzer College, and I had these songs — I thought they were pretty good — there was funny stuff about them, but it started to become a thing, the open mic night, and I was doing pretty good at it, and I sat down one night to play and the whole thing was crowded and I heard a girl whisper to her friend, 'Oh, this guy's funny.'" — Amoeba Music, San Francisco, August 22, 2006

    Although John has played this live on a number of occasions, he has grown increasingly opposed to doing so. Frequently, even if he plays the song, he'll ask that people not share that because he doesn't like people yelling for it (and conversely, occasionally rewards crowds for not requesting it). Explaining this feeling, John writes:

    I don't play "Golden Boy" because it sort of just doesn't really fit into the set, usually - it feels like, you know, like let's say we're all sitting around sharing stories about times we were in really bad shape, and there's funny parts to the stories but they've also got some real dark depths, we're really having the sort of conversation that makes you feel like conversation is an essential human activity maybe higher than the arts or science or whatever… and then one guy says "Hey, did you guys see that quiz Jane shared on Facebook, 'Which Famous Nihilist or Member of One Direction Are You?'" and everybody's like dude, yes, hilarious, kinda not now, also you're talking about Facebook in conversation.

    That's "Golden Boy." "Golden Boy" in the live set is the guy talking about Facebook instead of participating in the conversation. I dig "Golden Boy" on the compilation it was issued on and on the comp-of-comps it was reissued on, but it generally doesn't belong in the live set. I think I last played it in… 2012? Not that long ago. Same basic deal with most of the "funny" songs, for me playing live is trying to build a house in real time. No funny angles on the doors, I want everybody inside the house by the time I'm done so we can all get scared in the dark together.

    William Caxton Fan Club. Are there any songs you've written that (essentially they would be perfect) but just hit so close to home that you've put them away?. Retrieved November 1, 2014. See also 40 Watt Club, Athens, August 10, 2006; Swedish-American Hall, San Francisco, February 25, 2009; American Theater Company, Chicago, May 16, 2010.

    In reference to the Object Lessons liner notes, Jackfruit is a type of tree-borne fruit, the largest known.

  16. Golden Boy is part of the Song for … series and the informal series of Biblical references.

  17. Golden Boy was originally released on Object Lessons: Songs About Products, a compilation released by the magazine Beer Frame: The Journal of Inconspicuous Consumption, which celebrates and "deconstructs the details of consumer culture", as their website explains.

  18. As John explains above, Golden Boy Peanuts was an Asian brand of canned, braised peanuts. It's unclear to me if they're still being manufactured; I've never found any myself, and John claims that they're not, but I haven't been able to verify that. If you know more, please let me know!

    Zoop II, Farm Sanctuary, New York, June 14, 2009.

  19. Most likely refers to Paul Lukas, who is thanked in the liner notes and who was the editor and publisher of Beer Frame: The Journal of Inconspicuous Consumption, the magazine which released Object Lessons.

  20. From the famous Golden Rule, found in almost every culture and stating that one should treat others as one wishes to be treated. While this maxim predates Christianity, this particular phrasing is strongly associated with the version reported in the Bible to have been spoken by Jesus during the Sermon on the Mount:

    And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.

    This is retold in the other Gospels as well.

    Luke 6:31, King James Version, retrieved October 31, 2014.

  21. A likely reference to one of several Biblical verses, such as Numbers 10:9 or Jeremiah 15:11. Both verses differ between translations, but in the King James Version, Numbers 10:9 reads:

    And if ye go to war in your land against the enemy that oppresseth you, then ye shall blow an alarm with the trumpets; and ye shall be remembered before the Lord your God, and ye shall be saved from your enemies.

    In the less common Modern Spelling Tyndale–Coverdale Bible, but also several other translations, Jeremiah 15:11 reads:

    And the LORD answered me, "Lead not I thee then unto good? Come not I to thee, when thou art in trouble? And help thee, when thine enemy oppresseth thee?

    Retrieved October 31, 2014.

  22. Alternately sung, "So that when you die, you'll spend eternity enjoying…" These lines are also often swapped with the final two lines in the March of Dimes verse. Amoeba Music, San Francisco, August 22, 2006.

  23. Sometimes sung, "Strolling through the fields, gazing at you from the shelves…" Amoeba Music, San Francisco, August 22, 2006.

  24. The March of Dimes is an American nonprofit originally founded in 1938 to fight polio, but which now raises money for the health of infants and pregnant women. The name originates as a pun on the 1930s news program, The March of Time, and was used for an annual event where dimes were requested for donations. Eventually, the name of the organization was changed to the March of Dimes from its original name, the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis.

  25. Also sung, "When your shade is munching on that Golden Boy…", or variations of, such as "So that when they send your shade all 17 stories down to Hell / You'll have those magnificent peanuts from Singapore…" Zoop II, Farm Sanctuary, New York, June 14, 2009; Littlefield, New York, October 29, 2011.

  26. "Arguably the best studio recording Rachel and I ever made, this was written for the 7" that Dan and Danielle Varenka sent out as a wedding invitation. It's backwards-masked message has been modified slightly as to extend best wishes to the bride and groom, though it also rather dishonorably concludes by asking them if they can't float us a loan to cover the costs of repairing the stove, which we ruined when we tried to bake a Radio Shack Concertmate in a pastry shell." — Ghana liner notes

    A Concertmate was an analog synthesizer manufactured by Moog and sold by Radio Shack in the early 1980s.

  27. Going to Port Washington is part of the Going to … series.

  28. Originally released on The Wedding Record, a compilation released by and used as invitations for the wedding of two members of Walt Records, Dan and Danielle Varenka.

  29. Likely referring to Port Washington, New York, a small, wealthy town on the North Shore of Long Island.

  30. The Throgs Neck Bridge connects the Bronx to Queens in New York over the Long Island Sound via Interstate 295.

  31. "It was Rik Albatross of West Yorkshire who sent me a postcard bearing the title of this song. 'Cleveland,' 'Great Neck,' 'Nikes' — not that there aren't boatloads of great U.S. place names, but Kirby Sigston, man: now there's a name that rolls off the tongue nicely. Rik Albatross, incidentally, is the kind of fan that narcissistic singer-songwriters dream of having, always sending cool postcards from vacations and winning back the good name of fanaticism. Rik — we raise these next three brim-full glasses of Polish vodka to you! This song has never been released." — Ghana liner notes

    On one of the advance cassettes, John wrote, "suggested by RIK ALBATROSS". Rik has confirmed that his postcards led John to write the song (personal correspondence, 2014).

    Given the small size of the town, the song ultimately resulted in a local news article, in which locals expressed their confusion about the song:

    Few people have heard of the tiny North Yorkshire hamlet of Kirby Sigston. Located four miles east of Northallerton and near the busy A19, the scattered nature of the houses and farms often leave visitors confused about where the place begins and ends.

    Strange then, that it has been chosen as a song title by a US indie rock band.

    The Mountain Goats have named one of their tracks Going to Kirby Sigston.

    The song has been played in locations including Amsterdam, Frankfurt and New York and is one of 42 numbers in the band's "Going to…" series.

    It is safe to say that Kirby Sigston is the smallest place in the sequence, and lies between Kansas and Lebanon in the alphabetical list.

    Lead singer and guitarist John Darnielle explained how the title came about.

    He said: "The way it happened was a fan from Northallerton sent me a postcard from Kirby Sigston.

    "I was really taken with the name, so I wrote the song."

    The Mountain Goats formed in 1995 and are made up of John Darnielle, Peter Hughes and guest musicians.

    Mr Darnielle made his first recordings in 1991 while working as a nurse in a hospital in California.

    A forthcoming tour will take in dates across the US and Canada.

    However, Going to Kirby Sigston is not an ode to the village's 12th Century church, former castle, village hall, cricket team or women's institute.

    Instead, songs in the "Going to…" series are generally about needing to get out of a place and improve life by going somewhere new.

    Kirby Sigston residents were slightly baffled at being told of the song, and even more puzzled at the existence of postcards bearing the village's name.

    Linda Chapman, who has lived there for almost 25 years, said: "I cannot say I have heard of the Mountain Goats, but I think it is really quirky that they have put Kirby Sigston into one of their songs.

    "There might not be a lot of people here in terms of population, but it is a thriving agricultural community with plenty going on.

    "The countryside and the church are stunning."

    Sadly, Kirby Sigston residents cannot buy copies of the song, as it has not been released and is only played live.

    Chapman, Hannah (August 27, 2007). US band helps put North Yorkshire village on the map. The Northern Echo. Retrieved October 31, 2014.

  32. Going to Kirby Sigston is part of the Going to … series.

  33. This song was intended to be released on a compilation called Hey Dan K. on Ajax Records. To my knowledge, no copies were ever manufactured other than roughly 100 advance cassettes.

    Mountain Goats forums. What Elusive Mountain Goats Item Do You Desire Most? (1), (2), June 21, 2012. Retrieved October 31, 2014. See also Brownie's, New York, April 12, 1998.

  34. As John explains, Rik Albatros is a tremendous Mountain Goats fan who lived in Kirby Sigston, England. Peter Hughes' band DiskothiQ also recorded a song about and featuring Rik on their album Waterworld, titled Albatros.

  35. Kirby Sigston is a small village in North Yorkshire, England.

  36. "In which our hero again asserts that, no matter how brazenly his intended rubs his face in the morning wreckage of their once-storied love, he is up for another round if she is. These people are sick, you guys. I wish I could do something to help them. The are virulently resistive to treatment." — Ghana liner notes

    "recorded in iowa in early 1997." — We'll SailOut Far… Maybe a Little Too Far liner notes

  37. Originally released on the Apartment Records vinyl compilation We'll Sail Out Far… Maybe Too Far in Oslo, Norway. Later, the entire compilation was rereleased by Wabana in conjunction with Apartment Records in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

  38. As far as I can tell, the only thing that Hamngatan refers to is a street in Stockholm.

  39. A term used to describe worthless medicine sold deceptively as a scam. Snake oil has various proposed etymologies, but each dates back to the early United States.

  40. "For a surprising (to me) number of people, this is the best Mountain Goats song. I am pretty fond of it myself. I do not wish to disappoint its champions by letting the cat out of the bag, but truth will out, as the poet has it: played backwards, the recording just says 'Mother Monahan's Mohair Chestwig / Mother Monahan's Mohair Chestwig' over and over again. Dark and Mysterious are the rulers of the spirit world, I guess. Dark and mysterious or just crazy, maybe." — Ghana liner notes

    "This, to the best of anybody's knowledge, is a true story." — Letters to Santa, Chicago, December 7, 2011

    When asked about the song, John explained:

    The third verse, if there were one, would not be "and here's what caused his death." It would just be another thing a person might do in his house as he went about his day. The song isn’t about Jimi Hendrix's death; it's essentially a riff on Musee de Beaux Arts. When I say "riff" I don't mean that the point is the same, but that it sort of responds to Auden’s observation, maybe continues it, or zags left with it, or takes it inward some.

    The song would literally lose whatever power it has if there were a verse about death and its causes, etc, pace your dad, much love to dad of course.

    Musée des Beaux Arts is a celebrated poem by W. H. Auden that describes how the world continues on in its mundane ways even alongside tremendous suffering:

    About suffering they were never wrong,
    The old Masters: how well they understood
    Its human position: how it takes place
    While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
    How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
    For the miraculous birth, there always must be
    Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
    On a pond at the edge of the wood:
    They never forgot
    That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
    Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
    Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse
    Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.

    In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
    Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
    Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
    But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
    As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
    Water, and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
    Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
    Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

    William Caxton Fan Club, My dad likes when I play your tunes in the car…, retrieved October 31, 2014.

    Related to the Ghana liner notes above, to the best of my knowledge, "Mother Monahan's Mohair Chest Wig" originates in advertisements for Camel cigarettes in the 1940s. NBC used to air the Camel Program, a humor show sponsored by Camel to sell cigarettes. One script for a humorous Camel Program advertisement on April 29, 1943 contains the following text:

    All of these fine organizations brought to you by the makers of Mother Monahan's Mohair Chest Wigs! Man — are you ashamed to appear on the beach? Has the nest on your chest gone west? Buy a Mother Monahan's Mohair Chest Wig and put up a good front! They come in all convenient sizes, ranging from the Weismuller Whiz — which is a kind of grizzly bear job with the legs chopped off — all the way down to the Mickey Rooney Junior size, which is three hog bristles rigid in a field of peach-fuzz!

    The poet John refers to after saying the "truth will out" is Shakespeare — while this phrase was used prior to Shakespeare, he made it famous in The Merchant of Venice in the 16th century.

    Legacy Tobacco Documents Library, UCSF. William Esty Company, Camel Cigarettes, The Camel Program. Aired April 29, 1943. Retrieved October 31, 2014.

  41. Originally released on the Cool Beans! #4 compilation 7", which came with the magazine issue of the same title. A long and excellent interview with John and Sarah was also inside the magazine compiled from multiple sessions in 1994.

  42. Jimi Hendrix was an acclaimed rock guitarist in the 1960s, internationally famous for his tremendous electric guitar work. He died on September 17, 1970, presumed from aspirating vomit after overdosing on barbituates.

  43. The sliding riff that John plays at the beginning is very reminiscent of the famous Hendrix song Castles Made of Sand, to the point that I'm reasonably convinced that it was an intentional homage.

  44. Retitled "Within You, Without You" by Dennis Callaci for the Back to the Egg, Asshole compilation.

    "Early. Very early. Unlistenably early. I hope you completists are happy. Egads." — Ghana liner notes

    "The Mountain Goats 'Within You, Without You' plays with George Harrison's oh so deep transcendentantness." — Back to the Egg, Asshole liner notes

    George Harrison was the famous guitarist for the Beatles.

  45. Originally released on the Back to the Egg, Asshole 1991 compilation from Shrimper Tapes.

  46. Potentially an allusion to Palm City, Florida, a small unincorporated region of southeastern Florida.

  47. "I blush with shame every time I hear it: the liberties this lyric takes with matters of historical record are inexcusable. The Picts painted their bodies blue, not the Anglo-Saxons. The Romans, visiting England with a view to expanding the empire, took note of this unusual practice. Centuries later, a singer in California would note that 'Yeah, the Picts!' didn't have the same ring to it as 'Yeah, the Anglo-Saxons!' One hopes, perhaps vainly, that the 'all you'd get/alphabet' rhyme offsets the glaring inaccuracies at play here." — Ghana liner notes. See also Unknown venue, Columbus, 1994; The Garage, London, March 20, 1996; Duke Coffeehouse, Durham, April 4, 1997; Court Square Theater, MACRoCk, Harrisonburg, April 4, 2003.

    "[This is] another funny song." (said pejoratively) — Amoeba Music, San Francisco, August 22, 2006

  48. The Anglo-Saxons were the people who lived in Great Britain from roughly 450 ACE until the Norman Conquest in 1066. As John says above, much of this song is accurate in generality, although some parts refer to the Picts, who inhabited Scotland from prior to the Roman conquest of Britain through approximately 1000 ACE, rather than the Anglo-Saxons.

    The Picts are believed to have painted and tattooed themselves with woad, or Isatis tinctoria, a blue-dying plant native to Scotland, to the point that their name in Latin (Picti) means painted, and the name they called themselves is lost to history. Additionally, they did shave their beards, but not mustaches, at least as reported by Julius Caesar in his massive work, Commentarii de Bello Gallico:

    Most of the inland inhabitants do not sow corn, but live on milk and flesh, and are clad with skins. All the Britains, indeed, dye themselves with wood, which occasions a bluish color, and thereby have a more terrible appearance in fight. They wear their hair long, and have every part of their body shaved except their head and upper lip.

    Caesar, Julius (1869). Commentarii de Bello Gallico. W. A. McDevitte, translator. New York: Harper & Brothers. Perseus Digital Library, retrieved October 31, 2014. 2 3

  49. Originally released on the live compilation Basement Tapes: A KSPC Compilation of Live Recordings from KSPC in 1995. KSPC remains the radio station of Pomona College in Claremont, California.

  50. The Picts have been characterized as illiterate, however, several historians have begun to challenge that, as their complex art and carvings suggested extensive knowledge of the Bible and open the possibility that written language may have existed.

    Henderson, George and Isabel (2011). The Art of the Picts: Sculpture and Metalwork in Early Medieval Scotland. Thames and Hudson. ISBN 0-500-28963-8

  51. This most likely refers to Saint Augustine of Canterbury, a Benedictine monk who evangelized to the Anglo-Saxons in the 6th century, founding a school and an abbey. Another Augustine was the famous St. Augustine of Hippo, a Catholic saint from the 4th and 5th centuries ACE. However, he is not known for any literacy or educational campaigns in England or Scotland. Thanks to Harrison Lemke for pointing out Saint Augustine of Canterbury to me!

  52. The Norman conquest was the invasion of England by William the Conqueror of Normandy in 1066. While successful, he faced English rebellions through the late 11th century. This wrested power away from Anglo-Saxons for good, and these peoples fled or became peasants.

    As the Norman conquest didn't reach Scotland, the Picts were not similarly dethroned by the invasion. However, during the same time period, they fully merged with the Gaels, and Picts as a distinct group were lost.

  53. "When you can't really see the point behind a given song, it's a safe bet that the Tongueless Hordes of Bin-Yigoth have been hard at work again. These two songs, if you convert to MPEG Layer III format and monkey around with the zeros and ones a little, change magically into a recipe for an utterly scrumptious salad dressing. Bon Appetit." — Ghana liner notes 2

  54. Flight 717: Going to Denmark is part of the Going to … series.

  55. Originally released on the British compilation Corkscrewed from Theme Park. 2

  56. Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe, surrounded mostly by the North Sea and straits that open into the Baltic Sea. It is bordered to the south by Germany.

  57. A march can be in any time signature, but march time generally refers to 2/2, also called alla breve or cut time, which is a rapid, regular beat.

  58. "The two song-titles form an anagram for "Under Soup, Ancestor Urge." I think my meaning is clear here." — Ghana liner notes 2

  59. Originally released as 7" vinyl with Goar Magazine #11. 2

  60. This stanza quotes Miranda, the kind protagonist of Shakespeare's The Tempest:

    O, wonder!
    How many goodly creatures are there here!
    How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,
    That has such people in't!

    Shakespeare, William. The Tempest, Act V, scene i.

  61. Pure Sound is part of the Pure … series.

  62. There being many streets with this name, I'm not sure where this refers to — if you know more about the song and can narrow it down, drop me a line.

  63. "I have still never been to Maine. Apparently my attempts to get invited by feigning psychosis have been met with either indifference or very muted hostility. This is a very early song that was recorded a little later, live on the radio; I remember writing it on an acoustic slide guitar, the raised strings hurting my fingers while I played. How could I have known that, played backwards, the song would spell out the secret formula for Coca-Cola? Even all these years after the lawsuit, I am still a little bitter about that. To hold me legally culpable for such effects seems less than generous, and certainly not in the best interests of justice." — Ghana liner notes

    "When I was writing songs like that, I had never been further east than, you know, like, Portland, Oregon, so, or maybe Upland, California… I mean, I was born in Indiana, but my family moved out to California when I was like a year old, and so when I would think of Maine, and like the whole — just the term, the East Coast, this was like Shangri-La, it was some great, distant place where people did strange things and engaged in customs that I could not understand." — Black Cat, Washington, October 11, 2004

    "But I remember [writing] this one, I was like, 'Oh, yeah, that's the one that's going to get us all rich.' Then, three weeks later it turned out that no, that's one of those songs that you think is funny, and people who like Mountain Goats songs think is funny, but everybody else wonders what on Earth you're talking about." — American Theater Company, Chicago, May 16, 2010

    "It's kind of a dumb song… It's an excuse to put Maine into the series of songs I had been writing." — Front Porch Festival, Wente Vineyards, Livermore, September 1, 2012

  64. Going to Maine is part of the Going to … series and the informal series of Biblical references.

  65. Originally released on Hard Core Acoustic, a Shrimper compilation. Going to Maine was taken from a live session at KSPC.

  66. A method of pricing mail in which the same price is charged for similarly sized parcels regardless of destination.

  67. "The patient listener is rewarded for slogging through this compilation with this, probably the high-water mark of the years 1992 – 95. In a rare show of restraint, I do not even once attempt here to physically destroy the guitar by playing it as hard as I can. It was recorded during the Super Bowl in 1994. Underused as a fight song during sporting events; overused for selling eyeshadow at popular cosmetics counters across the country and worldwide. One of my own personal favorites." — Ghana liner notes. See also McCabe's Guitar Shop, Santa Monica, June 30, 2012.

  68. Originally released on the Fast Forward 2 sampler from Brinkman Records. On the booklet page for Noctifer Birmingham, the following Thomas Hardy quote was included:

    You should hae talked like that in former days
    When I was last home.

  69. In Latin, noctifer means evening-star, which in English at least generally refers to Venus.

  70. Given the geography of the song, this most likely refers to Birmingham, Alabama, a major metropolis in the center of the state. 2

  71. A katydid is a member of Tettigoniidae, a family of insects closely related to grasshoppers and crickets. Like these relatives, they make loud mating calls at night by rubbing parts of their wings together.

  72. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania is the capital of Pennsylvania, located in the southeastern portion of the state.

  73. "One of the very few songs I wrote during the six months when I was living in Chicago. I missed California. It seems maudlin to say things out loud, so I made up a whole different set of circumstances with which to surround the feeling. This song, then, is obliquely about watching the California coastline fade into memory as an airplane took me from L.A. to O'Hare Airport in August of 1995. Quite obliquely, actually, as this song takes place in China." — Ghana liner notes

  74. Originally released on the Cyanide Guilt Trip 7" vinyl compilation from Cactus Gum records in 1995.