Back of Nothing for Juice Cover of Nothing for Juice

Nothing for Juice

Title: Nothing for Juice 1 2
Released: 1996
Label: Ajax

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Liner notes

(inside of booklet):

Something Emerson said about seeing through an eye which was itself unseen and unseeable 3 — remember? Give these dreamer-types an inch and they'll irreversibly damage the universe. Anyway, we're still the Mountain Goats, you know, John and Rachel, and we recorded this in California at Bob DURKEE's, except for the ones that sound like they were recorded in a room somewhere, which were recorded in a room somewhere. There are so many people to whom we owe our lives that were we to thank them all here the printer would run out of ink and go bankrupt and probably the economy would become destabilized in the aftermath and when you ran across us crawling over the badly scorched earth you'd curse at us under your breath, but the following individuals should know we love them for all the good turns they've done us: Lalitree Chavanothai. Walter Zooi. Scott Carlson. Matt Blankman. Will and Tara Simon. Dan and Danielle Varenka. Paul Lukas, who wrote the liner notes for Sweden. Tim Adams. Dennis Callaci. Frank van den Elzen. Dirk Hugsam. Graeme Jefferies, who plays guitar on three of these songs, namely, "Full Flower," "Going to Kanas," and "Going to Reykjavik." Steffi Böhm for Violins on "Full Flower." Bill and Jessica Meyer. Peter Hughes, and Gloria for patience. Hal Looby. Pete Blackwell. Therese Bogan. Come to think of it we put out an unholy number of records without thanking our moms, so while we've got a minute we'd just like to send this special thanks to our moms: thanks. Some people think that Rome will never rise again, but to those people we can only say: yes, it will, too. Ten years ago had you ever dreamed of being able to drink espresso whenever you wanted? Since your back teeth came in have you ever gone a week without eating pizza? Who were all the monkeys in the Planet of the Apes 4 named after? That's right, emperors. Roman emperors. You just wait. Ten more years and everybody's praenomen 5 will be Gaius. You keep pressing me by this Emerson issue and I'll show you what an all-consuming I is really all about.

There are 18 songs on this record and they all have names:

1. Then the Letting Go. 2. Heights. 3. Alpha Double Negative: Going to Catalina. 4. Hellhound on My Trail. 5. Blueberry Frost 6. Alabama Nova. 7. Moon and Sand. 8. I Will Grab You by the Ears. 9. It Froze Me. 10. Full Flower. 11. Million. 12. Going to Bogotá. 13. Orange Ball of Pain. 14. Going to Kansas. 15. Waving at You. 16. Going to Reykjavik. 17. I Corinthians 13: 8 – 10. 18. Going to Scotland.

We wrote them all except for the one that Robert Johnson wrote and the one we found on a Chet Baker album. The Chet Baker one, written by some Italian guy of whom we've never heard, is "Moon and Sand." If you don't know which is the Robert Johnson one, then we can't help you.

The value and dignity of everyday words is to be as close as possible to nothing. Invisible, not letting anything be seen, always beyond themselves, always on this side of things, a pure awareness crosses them, so discreetly that it itself can sometimes be lacking. Everything then is nullity. And yet, understanding does not stop occurring; it even seems that it attains its point of perfection. What could be richer than this extreme destitution?
— Maurice Blanchot, The Language of Fiction; 6
Translated by Charlotte MANDELL 7

(back of CD booklet):

You could get from the South Bronx all the way to Rockway for a lousy dollar-fifty, but you won't: three days you've been holed up in that lousy flophouse like nobody knows you're there. The news: everybody knows you're there. It's just that nobody wants to talk about it. Would you, if you were in our shoes? It was a terrible thing you did. I don't care how long ago it was. It was a terrible, terrible thing.

(back):

nec minoris inpotentiae uoces propalam edebat, ut Titus Ampius scribit: nihil esse rem publicam, appellationem modo sine corpore ac specie. Sullam nescisse litteras, qui dictaturam deposuerit. debere homines consideratius iam loqui secum ac pro legibus habere quae dicat. eoque arrogantiae progressus est, ut haruspice tristia et sine corde exta quondam nuntiante, futura diceret laetiora, cum uellet; nec pro ostento ducendum, si pecudi cor defuisset. 8

— Suetonius, De Vita Caesarum, I: lxxvii.

Nothing for Juice has a number of outtakes: Etiquette Song, Flower Song, Going to Buffalo, Going to Detroit (which later became Going to Michigan), I Meant Every Word I Said in New Delhi, Pure Crystal, Radical Evil Song, and Something Blue.

Table of contents

  1. Then the Letting Go
  2. Heights
  3. Alpha Double Negative: Going to Catalina
  4. Hellhound on My Trail
  5. Blueberry Frost
  6. Alabama Nova
  7. Moon and Sand
  8. I Will Grab You by the Ears
  9. It Froze Me
  10. Full Flower
  11. Million
  12. Going To Bogatá
  13. Orange Ball of Pain
  14. Going to Kansas
  15. Waving at You
  16. Going to Reykjavik
  17. I Corinthians 13: 8 – 10
  18. Going to Scotland

Then the Letting Go 9

Down in the South Bronx 10
Down home
Saw you walking down the street again
Saw you looking sweet again

I saw you coming through
I turned my head away from you
Why do you come here
Why do you come around 11
Why'd you go home
Why'd you head on home to Rockaway? 12

Heights

When the seashells crumbled in your hand
You looked up at me
And the sands shifting underneath your feet
Softened for you and incredibly
The sun went through from the sky
And I was certain I was going to cry
But then you reached up and you reached out
We'd been staring at the water all day
And then you touched me, you were golden
You were giving the game away

When the sand crabs ran across your face
You didn't even twitch
And a salt scent came across the water
Impossibly rich
Impossibly cold
We were just nineteen years old
But then you reached up
And you reached out
We'd been staring at the water all day
And then you touched, me you were golden
You were giving the game away

Alpha Double Negative: Going to Catalina

Alpha Double Negative: Going to Catalina is annotated with Songs for Petronius.

Hellhound on My Trail 13 14

Gotta keep moving
Gotta keep moving
Blues falling down like hail
Gotta keep moving
Blues falling down like hail
And the daylight keeps moving
There's a hellhound on my trail

If today was Christmas Eve, and tomorrow were Christmas Day 15
If today was Christmas Eve, and tomorrow were Christmas Day
And tomorrow were Christmas Day All I would need is my little sweet rider
And the world would fade away

Gotta keep moving
Gotta keep moving
Blues falling down like hail
Gotta keep moving
Blues falling down like hail
And the daylight keeps to worrying me
There's a hellhound on my trail, yeah

Blueberry Frost

When you saw the evening star 16
Shining in the freezing sky
I saw something dark and silent
Passing by

Full moon
Deep grass
Cold water

When you said your name out loud
Something broke inside me
Nothing new to take a hold of
No new world to hide me

Full moon
Deep grass
Cold water

Full moon
Deep grass
Cold water

Alabama Nova

Your house is depressing
Your house is dirty
Why don't you come outside a little while?
Why don't you step out into the sun?
Let me take you down
Let me ease you around Montgomery 17

And out there on the front porch
Your hair shines in the sun
And I can see the sun gathering on your eyes
What the hell are you looking at?
Let me take you down
Let me ease you around Montgomery

Moon and Sand 18 19

Deep is the midnight sea
Warm is the fragrant night
Sweet are your lips to me
Soft as the moon and sand

Oh, when shall we meet again
When the night has left us
Will the spell remain

The waves invade the shore
Though we may kiss no more
Night is at our command
Moon and sand

The waves invade the shore
And though we may kiss no more
Night is at our command
Moon and sand

I Will Grab You by the Ears

The wind blew in across the water
And the wind blew through your hair
And I walked around the lake's perimeter
And then I saw you there

I will grab you by the ears
I will grab you by the ears
I will grab you by the ears
And you will know something
You will know something

I saw the birds fly out across the lake
I saw the birds go by
And I walked around the lake's perimeter
And I saw the lake reflected in your eyes

I will grab you by the ears
I will grab you by the ears
I will grab you by the ears
And you will know something
You will know something

It Froze Me 20

I saw you in the blazing light
When the lotus 21 caught fire
In the middle of the night
It froze me
It froze me

I saw you coming closer real slow
You grabbed hold
I let go
Yeah I saw you in the blazing light
I saw you
I saw you all right
It froze me
It froze me
It froze me
It froze me

Full Flower

I saw the ceiling spin
And I saw the room shift
And I watched the television flicker
And I let my mind drift
I would give anything in the world up for you
But I will not stop

I saw the blossom form
And I saw the screen glow
And I let my arm fall to my side
And I took one step back
And I would give anything in the world up for you
But I will not stop

Million

When I came back from Finland
The taxi took me down the street
I saw the red flowers growing like they used to
By the roadside in the smothering summer heat

You were standing out in front of the house
With your floral print dress on
And you had questions only a masochist would ask
Written all over your big brown eyes
And the moon is high over Iowa at night
And the moon is high over Iowa at night
And I brought you a blanket
Hand woven, hand dyed
The moon is high over Iowa at night

Going to Bogatá 22 23

I know what I want
And I know what we need
When the first fruits of the harvest
Begin to blacken and bleed
And the purple fruit 24 gives way when you press it
Even so slightly
And through the thatches behind the green leaves
We heard the fire-eyed macaw 25 sing as evil as you please
And his little song
Is a very pretty song
But it's something I won't stand for

And as the sun rises over Columbia
I know we're done for

When the holes started forming in the tent
And you wondered out loud where the sunlight went
I had a mind to tell you
But I didn't want to hurt you
And if I knew how to form the words
I would ask you what you'd come for

But as the sun rises over Columbia
I know we're done for
Yeah, as the sun rises over Columbia
I know we're done for
As the sun rises over Columbia
I know we're done for

Orange Ball of Pain 26

When I saw it on the bakery carousel
I knew I had to have it for my own
I eased it out
And I brought it home
Why don't you try some
I already had some myself

Is that the most delicious thing
You ever tasted in your life
Is that the most delicious thing
You ever tasted in your life

And then the cold sorrow gripped me by the throat
And then I felt the colder sadness taking hold
I knew I had to have it for my own
Why don't you try some
Why don't you try some

Is that the most delicious thing
You ever tasted in your life
Is that the most delicious thing
You ever tasted in your life

And then I saw the snow against the window
And then I saw the snow hit the window
And then I saw the snow brush against the window
And then I saw the snow in here

Going to Kansas

Going to Kansas is annotated with The Hound Chronicles.

Waving at You 27

Listen, you can tell your lawyer
That he can go to hell
'Cause I can take whatever you are offering up
Reasonably well
And if four long years come to nothing
That's all right
But it's your birthday
It's your birthday tonight
And I went to buy you something
But I caught myself in time
And nothing makes any sense anymore
But everything rhymes

Die hard
Die kicking
Old habit of mine
Die hard
Die kicking
Old habit of mine
Die hard
Die hard
Die kicking

Going to Reykjavik 28 29

I've been drinking that coffee you sent me from Thailand
I've been watching the lamps burn
I've been listening to the wind chime
I've been waiting my turn

And I'm coming to you
I am coming to you
I am coming to you

And I heated the milk until it boiled and I drank it down
And I stepped outside and I checked my reflection in the rain
There were voices on the wind
Winter coming on in
And I made myself up again, brand new

And I am broken and I am tired
And I'm coming to you with my mouth
Dripping

1 Corinthians 13: 8 – 10 30 31

We heard the rats in the rafters scurry by
And we wondered about the color of the sky outside
In Warsaw 32 in 1939 33
It was all right just to be alive
It was good that you were mine
And you held your hands up
To form a heart in the air
You held your hands up with your thumbs touching
They formed a heart in the air

Through the piece missing from the brick wall
We had an excellent view of the soldiers coming down the hall
And you held your hands up where I could see them in the dark
They formed a heart in the air
You held your hands up
And they formed a heart in the air

I heard the old songs radiating from you
I heard the old songs radiating from you

Going to Scotland 34

There was a barn owl trapped in the rafters
The ground underneath us was wet and cold
We heard the owl thrashing about
Trying desperately to get out
We stood outside and watched the night unfold

We watched the sun go down on Scotland
And I watched the moon come up over you
When a pack of dogs went silently past us
We knew we'd been given fair warning
But that was the only thing we knew

And you threw all your luggage out onto the water
And I tore the shirt away from my back
The cold came on with a new found intensity
And you pressed your warm body against me
And I loved you so much it was making me sick

And we watched the sun go down on Scotland
We were glad that we'd left Oklahoma behind
I took your hips in my hands and I threw you down
To the new found rich brown deep wet ground
Had a vision of you burning on my mind

We watched the sun go down on Scotland
And I watched the moon come up over you
When a pack of dogs went silently past us
We knew we'd been given fair warning
But that was the only thing we knew

Credits

Again, an unbelievably huge thanks to Thomas Fidler, also known as Drumhax on the Mountain Goats forums. Much of these lyrics were annotated entirely by him, and he did a phenomenal job. He can be contacted at thomasfidler at Google's popular email service dot com. Thanks also to Caliclimber, from whose excellent Flickr page I stole the album art, and who provided detailed scans of the liner notes, and to Stephen Plummer, who transcribed almost all of the liner notes.

  1. Nothing for Juice, Nall, retrieved April 14, 2013.

Footnotes

  1. John calls the title "not a reference to the OJ verdict, but rather an obscure personal reference". Argo, Denton, September 11, 1996.

  2. The cover of Nothing for Juice features a Swedish fire alarm with the word "ELDALARM" around the top (which means "FIRE ALARM" in Swedish) with the number 5 and a clapper on the bottom. John found the image on a brochure for urinary tract infections while sick in a hospital in Växjö, Sweden. — February 18, 2003, Uffes Kallare, Växjö, Sweden.

  3. Ralph Waldo Emerson was a famous poet, writer, philosopher, and member of the Transcendentalist movement in the late 1800s. In his essay, Nature, he described a transparent eyeball as a metaphor for the spiritual experience of becoming one with all things:

    "In the woods, we return to reason and faith. There I feel that nothing can befall me in life, — no disgrace, no calamity, (leaving me my eyes,) which nature cannot repair. Standing on the bare ground, — my head bathed by the blithe air, and uplifted into infinite space, — all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eye-ball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God. The name of the nearest friend sounds then foreign and accidental: to be brothers, to be acquaintances, — master or servant, is then a trifle and a disturbance. I am the lover of uncontained and immortal beauty. In the wilderness, I find something more dear and connate than in streets or villages. In the tranquil landscape, and especially in the distant line of the horizon, man beholds somewhat as beautiful as his own nature."

    Nature, Ralph Waldo Emerson, accessed August 1, 2013.

  4. Planet of the Apes is a famous French novel and later, Hollywood film and story franchise, about a planet where apes form the dominant society. In the film, many apes do have Roman names: Caesar, Maximus, Lucius, and Cornelius among them.

  5. A praenomen is a Roman's personal name, used by close friends. Romans often had three names, a praenomen, nomen, and cognomen. The nomen was a clan name, similar to modern English last names, and the cognomen was a nickname used to differentiate people with similar names.

  6. Maurice Blanchot was a French philosopher and writer during the 20th century. The Language of Fiction is a chapter of his 1949 book, The Work of Fire. John quotes him in his 2008 WNYC interview, and may have named Chanson du Bon Chose after him.

  7. Charlotte Mandell is a famous translator of works from French to English.

  8. This passage is from The Twelve Caesars, a set of biographies of the first twelve Roman emperors, written by Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus. A translation is as follows: "No less arrogant were his public utterances, which Titus Ampius records: that the state was nothing, a mere name without body or form; that Sulla did not know his A.B.C. when he laid down his dictatorship; that men ought now to be more circumspect in addressing him, and to regard his word as law. So far did he go in his presumption, that when a soothsayer once reported direful inwards without a heart, he said: 'They will be more favourable when I wish it; it should not be regarded as a portent, if a beast has no heart.'" Morgan, Llewelyn (1997). 'Levi Quidem De Re…': Julius Caesar as Tyrant and Pedant. Journal of Roman Studies 87: 23 – 40.

  9. "Then the Letting Go" is from the final lines of a poem by Emily Dickinson:

    After great pain a formal feeling comes —

    The nerves sit ceremonious like tombs;
    The stiff Heart questions — was it He that bore?
    And yesterday — or centuries before?
    The feet, mechanical, go round
    A wooden way
    Of ground, or air, or ought,
    Regardless grown,
    A quartz contentment, like a stone.

    This is the hour of lead
    Remembered if outlived,
    As freezing persons recollect the snow –
    First chill, then stupor, then the letting go.

    "The Letting Go" was also used as the title of an album by Bonnie 'Prince' Billy. Melani, Lilia (2009). After great pain a formal feeling comes. Retrieved March 19, 2013.

  10. The Bronx is the northernmost of the five boroughs of New York City. Located north of Manhattan and Queens, and south of Westchester County, the Bronx is the only borough that is located primarily on the mainland.

  11. Possibly an interpolation of the lyrics of the Morrissey song Suedehead, which contains the lyrics, "Why do you come here? And why do you hang around?" John would later cover this track with Kaki King during the 2008 Last Happy Night of Your Life tour with Kaki King (for example, at the Pabst Theater, the Wonder Ballroom, Republic, Theater of the Living Arts, Music Hall of Williamsburg, and Webster Hall).

  12. The Rockaway Peninsula is the name of a peninsula of Long Island, located within the New York City borough of Queens. A popular summer resort area since the 1830s, its relative isolation from the urban areas of the city, especially Manhattan, has traditionally made it a popular summer retreat.

  13. Hellhound on My Trail is part of the informal series of cover songs.

  14. Hellhound on My Trail is originally the title of a blues song recorded and released by Mississippi Delta blues artist Robert Johnson in 1937.

  15. At this point, John starts talking in the background. For the most part, it sounds like he is just repeating the lines as opposed to saying new lyrics, however, if you hear something to the contrary, let us know.

  16. The Evening Star often refers to the planet Venus, which after the Moon is the brightest natural object in the night sky. Venus reaches its maximum brightness shortly before sunrise or shortly after sunset, for which reason it has been referred to by ancient cultures as the Morning Star or Evening Star.

  17. Montgomery is the capital of the U.S. state of Alabama.

  18. Moon and Sand is part of the the informal series of cover songs.

  19. This is the cover of a song originally recorded by American jazz trumpeter and vocalist Chet Baker in 1987.

  20. "I'll tell you a secret — most of the songs I used to write were just made up stories, but then I think I wrote so many made up stories so I could bury the real songs, nobody would catch me. This is a real love song." — June 13, 2006, Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco.

    Other comments alluding to it being a love song can be heard at December 13, 2012, Troubadour, Los Angeles; October 12, 2005, Canopy Club, Urbana; and February 18, 2003, Uffes Källare, Växjö, Sweden.

  21. I don't know if John was specifically intending to reference anything through his choice of the lotus, but the lotus is a traditional symbol of Buddhism. Known also as the padma, its beauty growing from muddy swamps is often used as an allegory for purity, grace, and other traits connoting aspects of nirvana.

  22. Going to Bogatá is part of the Going to … series.

  23. Bogatá is the capital and largest city of the country of Colombia.

  24. This could refer to a lot of fruit. However, a common purple fruit in areas around Bogatá is the purple mangosteen, also known simply as mangosteen. This is a tropical evergreen tree which grows mainly in Southeast Asia, and also in tropical South American countries such as Colombia, where the tree has been introduced. The fruit of the mangosteen is sweet, tangy, and juicy, with an inedible, deep reddish-purple colored rind when ripe.

  25. Macaws are long tailed, often colorful New World parrots native to Mexico, Central America, South America, and formerly the Caribbean. Most species are associated with forests, especially rainforests, but others prefer woodland or savannah-like habitats.

  26. Orange Ball of Pain is part of the Orange Ball of … series.

  27. "This is rather the best of the early divorce songs, written a good five or six years before I got married, drawn from — what? Some imagined hurt? A lonely Thursday night in December, maybe? Seems like it; I feel like I was having some sort of disagreement with somebody. The main thing I remember though is the riff, if you want to call it that. A fingered C chord that becomes an Am7 and then some kind of modified F whose name I don't know that resolves finally at G, this circular droning looping process that suggested a guy who's trying to break free from a pattern that's never going to let him go, because that pattern is exactly who he is, down deep where all the ghosts and jackals live. He tries at the end to shift the focus, to call his love for somebody a habit, but it's not that: it's love. It's always going to be love. So the song doesn't really end, it just gets stuck. And then I strum a chord for a long time really energetically, because I used to always dig ending my songs like that.

    "I can tell, listening to this song now, years removed from the night I recorded it, that I was getting pretty into the story: not from the strength of the strumming, but from the way I get real quiet during the end of the vocal. To me, that's the signal that I'm getting so involved with the plotline that I can't really tell the difference between myself and the narrator any more. That is really the point at which I feel like I've succeeded in getting somewhere. Everybody else assumes the louder I sing, the more deeply I'm feeling the emotions, and I do try to oblige, but it's the quiet moments where the shadows sort of start to flesh themselves out." — February 15, 2008, My Five Favorite Mountain Goats Characters, eMusic Magazine, archived by the Internet Archive (mirror), accessed April 16, 2013

  28. Going to Reykjavik is part of the Going to … series.

  29. Reykjavik is the capital and largest city in Iceland.

  30. 1 Corinthians 13: 8 – 10 is part of the informal series of Biblical references.

  31. "Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for languages, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when the perfect comes, the partial will come to an end." 1 Corinthians 13: 8 – 10, Holman Christian Standard Bible, retrieved March 22, 2013.

    1 Corinthians 13: 11 and 1 Corinthians 13: 12, closely related verses, are referenced in Song for John Davis and Love, Love, Love, respectively.

  32. Warsaw is the capital and largest city of Poland.

  33. In 1939 Warsaw, a battle known as the Siege of Warsaw took place between the Polish Warsaw Army and the Nazis. It started with aerial bombardments by the Luftwaffe on September 1, land fighting beginning on September 8 when the first German armored units reached the city. The initial attack was stopped, and Warsaw was placed under siege. The siege lasted until September 28, when the Polish garrison capitulated. Approximately 100,000 Polish soldiers were taken as prisoners of war. October began a period of German occupation that lasted until liberation by the Soviets on January 17, 1945.

  34. Going to Scotland is part of the Going to … series.