Series

Many Mountain Goats songs belong in series linked together by naming conventions and common themes. Cataloguing all of these is a massive task, and it's hard to know how complete this is. However, since a large amount of commentary exists regarding these, rather than attempting to cover all of it in the footnotes for each song in a series, I will document series-specific information here and link to this page in the annotations.

For the sake of this document, I have created two types of series. "Formal series" are those acknowledged by John Darnielle and by the fan community. "Informal series" are recognized recurring themes and naming conventions which lack the intentional cohesiveness found in the formal series.

Along with these series are listed outtakes and extras. This category documents songs which were originally intended for a particular release but which ultimately were not included, either being released as bonus tracks (extras) or in another fashion (outtakes).

Please let me know if you see any errors or omissions, or if I've included something you think doesn't belong; I'd love to hear from you and make this as complete as possible.

Table of contents

Formal series

Alpha couple

This is arguably the canonical Mountain Goats series, with numerous songs written about them and the source of endless arguments about the exact chronology of the songs depicting the almost-divorcing couple. The series predates John as a musician, beginning as a collection of poems, one of which eventually became the Extra Glenns song Twelve Hands High. 1 John chose the Alpha suffix as a way of keeping track of the songs, as in Latin the a- prefix designates negation (known as a privative alpha). The first tracks were accordingly grouped in a set called Songs from Point Alpha Privative. 2 The songs are, unless otherwise specified, intended to be sung by either member of the couple. 3

The Alpha Couple are a Catholic 4 man and woman from Southern California whose relationship survives solely on the love they want to have for each other, the hatred they actually share, and the alcohol they imbibe to quash their feelings. John has indicated that the couple was originally intended to get a divorce, but as he wrote the songs, this didn't wind up happening. 5 Thinking everything will improve if they move, they leave California (after potentially staying in Portland), drink for a year in a motel in Nevada, and stay at least for a time at the Stardust casino on the strip. 6 They move and finally settle in Tallahassee, Florida, after the Alpha wife gets pregnant, although it's unclear if they ever have children. 7 The specific trajectory of Southern California, then Nevada, and finally Florida was chosen as it depicts them "crawl[ing] along the bottom of the country" until there's nowhere farther to reach, symbolically living off the lowest scraps of the country. 8 The impoverished part of Tallahassee that they ultimately settle in was chosen for the availability of cheap alcohol, cheap land, sense of decay and rot, and because their alcoholism and unemployment would prevent them living anywhere else. 8

The entirety of the album Tallahassee is about this couple; much more information is contained there and in its annotations. Also related to the couple is the See America Right single, released in anticipation of Tallahassee.

The following songs are generally considered to be Alpha couple songs.

Song Release Year
Alpha Aquae Unreleased 1995?
Alpha Chum Gatherer Unreleased 2013?
Alpha Desperation March Transmissions to Horace; Bitter Melon Farm 1993; 1999
Alpha Double Negative: Going to Catalina Songs for Petronius; Nothing for Juice; Bitter Melon Farm 1992; 1996; 1999
Alpha Gelida Taking the Dative; Ghana 1994; 1999
Alpha in Tauris Zopilote Machine 1994
Alpha Incipiens Zopilote Machine 1994
Alpha Negative The Hound Chronicles 1992
Alpha Omega Protein Source Of The Future... NOW! 1999
Alpha Rats Nest Tallahassee 2002
Alpha Sun Hat Zopilote Machine 1994
Alphabetizing Chile de Árbol; Protein Source Of The Future... NOW! 1993; 1999
Alphonse Mambo The Coroner's Gambit 2000
Design Your Own Container Garden See America Right 2002
Ending the Alphabet Hail and Farewell, Gothenburg 1995
Ethiopians Unreleased 2007?
First Few Desperate Hours Tallahassee 2002
Game Shows Touch Our Lives Tallahassee 2002
Going to Dade County Unreleased 1998?
Have To Explode Tallahassee 2002
The House That Dripped Blood Tallahassee 2002
Idylls Of The King Tallahassee 2002
International Small Arms Traffic Blues Tallahassee 2002
Letter from a Motel Unreleased 1999?
New Chevrolet in Flames See America Right 2002
No Children Tallahassee 2002
Oceanographer's Choice Tallahassee 2002
Old College Try Tallahassee 2002
One Winter At Point Alpha Privative Taboo VI: The Homecoming 1992
Peacocks Tallahassee 2002
See America Right Tallahassee; See America Right 2002
Southwood Plantation Road Tallahassee 2002
Spilling Toward Alpha The Hound Chronicles 1992
Star Dusting Transmissions to Horace; Bitter Melon Farm 1993; 1999
Tallahassee Tallahassee 2002
Twelve Hands High (was Fit Alpha Vi) Martial Arts Weekend 2002

An unnamed song that was renamed Alpha Compunction by Nall exists somewhere, but as I've never found a copy it is not listed above.

Going to ...

As Nall describes, the Going to ... series describe the feeling of trying to improve your life by traveling to somewhere else, often only finding the same thing there that you had fled. John described in 1997 that there are no main characters, and that the songs are only very loosely thematically connected. 9

Song Release Year
Alpha Double Negative: Going to Catalina Songs for Petronius; Nothing for Juice; Bitter Melon Farm 1992; 1996; 1999
Flight 717: Going to Denmark Ghana 1999
Going Back to California Online release 2016
Going through Pomona Unreleased 2004?
Going to Alaska Taboo VI: The Homecoming 1992
Going to Bangor Bitter Melon Farm 1999
Going to Bogatá Nothing for Juice 1996
Going to Bolivia Sweden 1995
Going to Brazil Unreleased 199x?
Going to Bridlington Unreleased 1995?
Going to Bristol Zopilote Machine 1994
Going to Buffalo Unreleased 1996
Going to California Unreleased 1992?
Going to Chino The Hound Chronicles 1992
Going to Cleveland Transmissions to Horace; Bitter Melon Farm 1993; 1999
Going to Dade County Unreleased 1998?
Going to France Unreleased 1992?
Going to Georgia Zopilote Machine 1994
Going to Hungary Tropical Depression; Ghana 1997; 1999
Going to Jamaica Taking the Dative; Ghana 1994; 1999
Going to Japan Hot Garden Stomp 1993
Going to Kansas The Hound Chronicles; Nothing for Juice 1992; 1996
Going to Kirby Sigston Ghana 1999
Going to Lebanon Zopilote Machine 1994
Going to Lubbock Infidelity 1994
Going to Maine Ghana 1999
Going to Malibu Chile de Árbol; Protein Source of the Future... NOW! 1993; 1999
Going to Marrakesh Martial Arts Weekend 2002
Going to Maryland Beautiful Rat Sunset 1994
Going to Mexico The Hound Chronicles 1992
Going to Michigan (was Going to Detroit) Unreleased; Martial Arts Weekend 1996; 2002
Going to Monaco Transmissions to Horace; Bitter Melon Farm 1993; 1999
Going to Morocco Martial Arts Weekend 2002
Going to Norwalk Hot Garden Stomp 1993
Going to Palestine Unreleased 1994?
Going to Port Washington Ghana 1999
Going to Queens Sweden 1995
Going to Reykjavik Nothing for Juice 1996
Going to San Diego Unreleased 1992?
Going to Santiago Transmissions to Horace; Bitter Melon Farm 1993; 1999
Going to Scotland Nothing for Juice 1996
Going to Some Damned English City Unreleased 1996?
Going to Spain The Hound Chronicles 1992
Going to Spirit Lake Unreleased 1996?
Going to Tennessee Why You All So Thief?; Protein Source of the Future... NOW! 1994; 1999
Going to Utrecht Nine Black Poppies 1995
Going to Wisconsin The Hound Chronicles 1992

Orange Ball of ...

This series arose to make fun of Don DeLillo's repeated use of the phrase "orange ball" in White Noise. 10 After it became a series rather than a one-off joke, John has mentioned that it has neither specific repeated characters nor any solid connections beween them. 11

Song Release Year
Orange Ball of Hate Zopilote Machine 1994
Orange Ball of Love Zopilote Machine 1994
Orange Ball of Pain Nothing for Juice 1996
Orange Ball of Peace Taking the Dative; Ghana 1994; 1999

Pure ...

Like the Orange Ball of ... and Going to ... series, John has stated that these are mostly unrelated. The Pure ... songs are described as being "kind of intently focused in [a] way that I think I don't force myself to be on the other ones... more immediate". 12

Song Release Year
Pure Crystal Unreleased 1996
Pure Dynamite Full Term 1995
Pure Gold Songs About Fire; Ghana 1995; 1999
Pure Heat Why You All So Thief?; Protein Source of the Future... NOW! 1994; 1999
Pure Honey Philyra; Protein Source of the Future... NOW! 1994; 1999
Pure Intentions Songs for Petronius; Bitter Melon Farm 1992; 1999
Pure Love Songs for Petronius; Bitter Melon Farm 1992; 1999
Pure Milk Hot Garden Stomp 1993
Pure Money Nine Black Poppies 1995
Pure Sound Ghana 1999
Pure Sun Unreleased 1994?

Song for ...

I have been unable to find anything where John describes this series (if you know of something, please contact me). However, based on the titles, it seems that these are songs dedicated to specific individuals or things.

As the Songs About ... titles seem to be in the same vein, these are included as well. Brave, which is a Chris Knox cover, is included by virtue of being released on an album titled Stroke: Songs for Chris Knox; Golden Boy is included due to originally being released on an Inland Empire compilation album called Object Lessons: Songs About Products. Both to me seem to fall under the general feel of the Song for ... series.

Releases Release Year
Songs About Fire (self) 1995
Songs for Peter Hughes (self) 1995
Songs for Petronius (self) 1995
Songs for Vamsidasa Babaji (self) 2008
Songs    
Baltimore (was Song for Prince Edward III) Martial Arts Weekend 2002 (was 1996)
Brave (Chrix Knox cover) Compilation appearance 2009
Chanson du Bon Chose Nine Black Poppies 1995
Counting Song for Bitter Children Online release 200x?
For Charles Bronson All Eternals Deck; All Survivors Pack 2011; 2011
Golden Boy Ghana 1999
Short Song About the 10 Freeway Songs for Peter Hughes; Bitter Melon Farm 1995; 1999
Short Song for Justin Bieber and His Paparazzi Online release 2013
Song for an Old Friend Bitter Melon Farm 1999
Song for Black Sabbath's Second North American Tour Unreleased 2014?
Song for Cleomenes Beautiful Rat Sunset 1994
Song for Dana Plato Songs for Peter Hughes; Bitter Melon Farm 1995; 1999
Song for Dennis Brown The Sunset Tree; Come, Come to the Sunset Tree 2005; 2005
Song for God Unreleased 2002
Song for Greg Valentine Unreleased 2012
Song for John Davis Songs About Fire; Ghana 1995; 1999
Song for Lonely Giants Get Lonely 2006
Song for Mark and Joel Beautiful Rat Sunset 1994
Song for My Stepfather Unreleased 2004?
Song for Roger Maris Unreleased 1999?
Song for the Julian Calendar Full Force Galesburg 1997
Song for Tura Satana Zopilote Machine 1994

A song called Song for Mitch Williams has been reported, but as it's unlikely to ever surface it isn't included in the above list. Also, Nall reports that Saigon Shrunken Panorama was once called Saigon: Song for Anonymity, but I've never been able to confirm that. A song titled Song for Denise Matthews was recorded for All Eternals Deck, but did not make the album and has never been released. 13

Standard Bitter Love Songs

Again, I unfortunately have not heard John discussing these songs, however, one possible unifying theme could come from simply taking their names at face value.

Song Release Year
Standard Bitter Love Song #1 Unreleased 199x?
Standard Bitter Love Song #4 The Hound Chronicles 1992
Standard Bitter Love Song #5 Unreleased 1992?
Standard Bitter Love Song #6 Unreleased 1992?
Standard Bitter Love Song #7 Zopilote Machine 1994
Standard Bitter Love Song #8 Taking the Dative; Ghana 1994; 1999

Informal series

As decribed above, these series are less explicit and, while tied together through naming conventions and themes, are not as obviously part of a series as those listed above.

Aztec songs

Nall's catalog includes a series for Quetzalcoatl ... songs, which follow an obvious naming convention. However, it seems to me that these fall under a more general pattern of songs which are named using Nahuatl, the Aztec language. I have not found anything where John discusses this series; if you know of something, please contact me.

Song Release Year
Azo Tle Nelli in Tlalticpac? Zopilote Machine 1994
Itzcuintli-Totzli Days Beautiful Rat Sunset 1994
Quetzalcoatl Comes Through Yam, the King of Crops; Protein Source of the Future... NOW! 1994; 1999
Quetzalcoatl Eats Plums Zopilote Machine 1994
Quetzalcoatl Is Born Zopilote Machine 1994

Ambivalent or Malevolent -scapes

Entirely released by the Extra Glenns or Extra Lens. I'm unfortunately unaware of anything describing this series — please let me know if you discover something.

Song Release Year
Ambivalent Landscape Z Undercard 2010
Malevolent Cityscape X Infidelity 1994
Malevolent Seascape Y Martial Arts Weekend 2002

Biblical songs

John has made many songs based off of mythological or religious figures, including Aztecs, Satanists, Rastafarians, and others. However, more so than others, many songs by John have Biblical references. Many of these references are in the song titles, some are quoting scripture, and some are referencing particular Biblical figures or narratives, even attracting the attention of religious scholars. 14 While cataloguing all songs that make any mention of religion would be prohibitive and unnecessarily speculative, this category includes all songs which explicitly reference the Bible. Several releases themselves fall into this latter category; these are listed at the beginning.

It is unknown which version of the Bible John prefers, although I would expect it would be a Catholic text given his personal faith. In one interview, John mentions using the Bible Gateway website and the Holman Christian Standard Bible translations,15 accordingly, this is where Biblical references are drawn from on this website unless other translations make more sense. He's also expressed his fondness for the New Jerusalem Bible,16 Young's Literal Translation,15 and the King James Version (at least, for the Psalms16). If you have more information on preferred translations, I would love to hear from you.

It is debatable whether songs referencing demons or devils are Biblical in nature. Devils and demons appear in both Christian and non-Christian mythology. My criteria is as follows: all references to "the Devil" or "Satan" are considered to be potentially Biblical and are thus accounted for here, whereas all others are not listed unless John has specified otherwise — in this case, John's description determines the classification. However, this is imperfect for a number of reasons, so please bear with the complexity and recognize that these songs are not necessarily definitively Biblical while songs not included are not necessarily non-Biblical. Accordingly, Beat the Devil is listed below, but Devil in the Shortwave is not, since the definite article is not used and so a singular conception of Satan cannot be confirmed. Similarly, references to historical cities which play major Biblical roles are sometimes difficult to categorize. In these cases, if the reference is commonly in reference to Christianity, such as with Babylon, they are listed here. Lastly, references to God are included if Christian influences seem reasonable, which is frequent given John's Catholicism. References to Jesus or God as expletives are not included.

Release and year are abbreviated and merged together due to space constraints. References contained in liner notes are listed under the release name.

Release References Rls.; year
All Hail West Texas Isaiah 45:23 (self); 2002
Babylon Springs Babylon (self); 2006
Come, Come to the Sunset Tree Tyrolese Evening Hymn (self); 2005
The Coroner's Gambit 1 Peter 1:18 (self); 2000
Ghana God; Satan; televangelism; Gehennom; Luke 13:11; Exorcism of the Gerasene demoniac (self); 1999, 2002
Heretic Pride Heresy (self); 2008
The Life of the World to Come Nicene Creed (self); 2009
The Life of the World in Flux Nicene Creed (self); 2009
Satanic Messiah Satan; the Messiah; Parable of the Mustard Seed (self); 2008
The Sunset Tree Tyrolese Evening Hymn (self); 2005
Song    
Abide with Me (Henry Francis Lyte cover) Hymn; Luke 24:29 IRH; 1998
Against Pollution Acts 2:17; Christian eschatology; 1 Corinthians 13:12 WSABH; 2004
Age of Kings God AED; 2011
Alpha Gelida Psalms 58:6 TTD, G; 1994, 1999
Alpha Sun Hat Satan ZM; 1994
Baboon Matthew 26:41; Mark 14:38 TCG; 2000
Babylon Burning Babylon Unreleased; 2007
Beat the Devil Satan; Goliath Compilation appearance; 2004
Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton, The Satan AHWT; 2002
Blues in Dallas Seventh trumpet of Revelation AHWT; 2002
Brisbane Hotel Sutra Psalm 113:3, Job 1:21 AED; 2011
Chino Love Song 1979 Genesis 2:24 TTD, G; 1994, 1999
Cobra Tattoo Genesis 3:15; Isaiah 14:13; Luke 3:8; Matthew 3:9 GL; 2006
Collapsing Stars Psalms 126:6; Bringing in the Sheaves D, CCTTST; 2005, 2005
1 Corinthians 13:8 – 10 1 Corinthians 13:8 – 10 NFJ; 1996
Cry for Judas Judas TY; 2012
Cut Off Their Thumbs #1 Judges 1:7 – 8 HDH; 2005
Daniel 12:8 (third) Daniel 12:8 TLOTWIF; 2011
Deserters God HDH; 2005
Deuteronomy 2:10 Deuteronomy 2:10 TLOTWTC/IF; 2011
Dilaudid Psalms 90:10 TST; 2005
The Doll Song 1 Corinthians 13 Unreleased; 1992?
Down Here Psalms FFG; 1997
Down to the Ark Noah's Ark Unreleased; 2008
Dutch Orchestra Blues God IRH; 1998
Elijah Galatians 4:4; Luke 1:44; resurrection of Jesus TCG; 2000
Enoch 18:14 Enoch 18:14 TLOTWIF; 2011
Ezekiel 7 and the Permanent Efficacy of Grace Ezekiel 7; efficacious grace TLOTWTC; 2011
Genesis 19:1 – 2 Genesis 19:1 – 2 DITS; 2002
Genesis 3:23 Genesis 3:23 TLOTWTC/IF; 2011
Genesis 30:3 Genesis 30:3 TLOTWTC; 2011
Going to Hungary Hell TD, G; 1997, 1999
Going to Marrakesh Resurrection of Jesus MAW; 2002
Going to Maine Hell G; 1999
Going to Monaco Satan TTH; 1993
Going to Santiago Jesus TTH; 1993
Golden Boy Golden Rule; Numbers 10:9; Jeremiah 15:11 G; 1999
Hail St. Sebastian Saint Sebastian, demons Unreleased; 2009?
Hast Thou Considered the Tetrapod? Job 1:8 TST; 2005
Hebrews 11:40 Hebrews 11:40 TLOTWTC/IF; 2011
High Hawk Season Psalms 7:10 AED; 2011
History of the Church (Part 1) Christian history, Gnosticism Unreleased; 1992?
How I Left the Ministry Christian ministry U; 2010
How to Embrace a Swamp Creature Genesis 3:14, 3:24, 9:7 HP; 2008
In Memory of Satan Satan TY; 2012
Isaiah 45:23 Isaiah 40:4, 45:23 TLOTWTC/IF; 2011
Jaipur 2 Kings 2; Exodus 2:1 – 8; Genesis 37:28; Matthew 7:15 TCG; 2000
Jenny God AHWT; 2002
1 John 4:16 1 John 4:16 TLOTWTC/IF; 2011
Last Man on Earth Denial of Peter HP extra; 2008
Love Love Love 1 Corinthians 13:12; King Saul; Joseph TST; 2005
Lucifer Rising Lucifer MCB; 2009
Magpie Crucifixes; Exodus 12 TST; 2005
Matthew 11:14 – 19 Matthew 11:14 – 19 TLOTWIF; 2011
Matthew 25:21 Matthew 25:21 TLOTWTC/IF; 2011
Naming Day Mormonism GL extra; 2006
New Britain Amazing Grace melody FFG; 1997
New Chevrolet in Flames Song of Solomon 1:2 SAR; 2002
New World Emerging Blues 1 Corinthians 13:12 7FA; 2004?
New Zion New Jerusalem; Genesis 14:18; 2 Corinthians 5:17 HP; 2008
Night of the Mules Genesis 18; Nativity of Jesus CDA; 1993
One Winter at Point Alpha Privative God T6:TH; 1992
Papagallo God SAF, G; 1995, 1999
The Plague Plagues of Egypt Unreleased; 2001?
Philippians 3:20 – 21 Philippians 3:20 – 21 TLOTWTC/IF; 2011
Pink and Blue Hell AHWT; 2002
Pigs That Ran Straightaway Into the Water, Triumph of Exorcism of the Gerasene demoniac WSABH; 2004
Power in a Union Satan Online release; 2011
Process of Elimination Jesus Unreleased; 1992
Proverbs 6:27 Proverbs 6:27 TLOTWIF, TLOTWTC extra; 2011
Prowl Great Cain Cain (Genesis 4) AED; 2011
Psalms 40:2 Jeremiah 10:2; Luke 21:11; Matthew 11:28; Psalms 40:2, 119:171 TLOTWTC/IF; 2011
Romans 10:9 Romans 10:9 TLOTWTC/IF; 2011
Sail Babylon Springs Psalms 137:1; Babylon BS; 2006
1 Samuel 15:23 1 Samuel 15:23 TLOTWTC; 2011
San Bernardino Genesis 3:24 HP; 2008
Satanic Messiah Satan; the Messiah SM; 2008
Sept 15th 1983 Psalms 137:5 HP; 2008
Short Song About the 10 Freeway God; Satan SFPH, BMF; 1995, 1999
Sign of the Crow 2 Matthew 12:39 – 41; Mark 8:12 Online release; 2008
Snow Owl Heaven FFG; 1997
Solomon Revisited Solomon T6:TH; 1992
Song for John Davis 1 Corinthians 13:11 SAF, G; 1995, 1999
Song for God Revelations; God Unreleased; 2002
Store Heavenly choir; Lucifer JEB; 2001
Supergenesis Genesis 3 BPT; 2008
Tallahassee Destroying angel T; 2002
This Year Passover Seder TST; 2005
Tollund Man This Is My Father's World hymn S; 1995
Toolshed Satan HP extra; 2008
Transjordanian Blues Transjordan; church; hosanna; Lamb of God; I Know It Was the Blood OJB; 2001
Waco Resurrection of the dead AHWTR; 2001?
Wizard Buys a Hat Churches SM; 2008

Black Sabbath songs

Although metal themes permeate John's work (and of course, Last Plane to Jakarta), Black Sabbath has received particular attention. John has explained that there many of these songs but that they are unlikely to have a release dedicated to them.17 Although some of these songs simply mention Black Sabbath, many others are explorations of psyches of members of the band or descriptions of pivotal events related to the band.

Title Release Year
Black Sabbath: Master of Reality (book) 2008
Song    
Answering the Phone All Hail West Texas reissue 2013
California Jam Unreleased 2016?
Going Back to California Online release 2016
Song for Black Sabbath's Second North American Tour Unreleased 2014?

Covers

This section is very much in progress. John has covered many, many songs in live shows; accordingly, I am adding songs as I annotate the albums that they appear in. I will add covers from live shows once I have catalogued them.

Song Original artist or author Rls.; year
Abide with Me Henry Francis Lyte (hymn) IRH; 1998
Accentuate the Positive Johnny Mercer Unreleased; 2006?
Babe Styx Unreleased; 2011?
Babylon Burning Peter Tosh Unreleased; 2007?
Bare Grace Misery Nightwish Unreleased; 2012?
Black Water The Doobie Brothers Unreleased; 2011?
The Boys Are Back in Town Thin Lizzy Unreleased; 2004?
Bonnie Banks o' Loch Lomond, The Folk song Unreleased; unknown
Boxcar Jawbreaker Unreleased; 2011?
Brave Chris Knox Compilation appearance; 2009
Case of You Joni Mitchell Unreleased; 1997?
Cathedral Song Tanya Tikaram Unreleased; 1996?
Christmas in Prison John Prine Unreleased; 2006?
Civilian Wye Oak Unreleased; 2012?
Cut Your Hair Pavement Unreleased; 1995?
The Coast of High Barbary Folk song Unreleased; 2014?
Daniel Elton John Compilation appearance; 1992
Danny Says Ramones Unreleased; 2014?
Dark as a Dungeon Merle Travis Unreleased; 2012?
Dirty Old Town Ewan MacColl DITS; 2002
Do It Like a GO Geto Boys Unreleased; 2003?
Doctor Wu Steely Dan Unreleased; 1996?
Drug Life East River Pipe Compilation appearance; 2009
Drug Life [Casio demo version] East River Pipe Unreleased; 2009
Eleven Bands The Congress T6:TH; 1992
FM Steely Dan S; 1995
Friend of the Devil Grateful Dead Unreleased; 2014?
Free Fallin' Tom Petty Unreleased; 2009?
Furniture Store Furniture Huschle Unreleased; 1995?
Have Yourself a Merry Christmas Frank Sinatra Unreleased; 2011
Hellhound on My Trail Robert Johnson NFJ; 1996
Houseguest Nothing Painted Blue Unreleased; 2002?
I Don't Want to Get Adjusted to This World Hymn Unreleased; 2014?
I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry Hank Williams T6:TH; 1992
I Am Morris Townsend The Prayers and Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers Unreleased; 2006?
I Miss the War John Vanderslice Unreleased; 2004?
I Think I'll Just Stay Here and Drink Merle Haggard Unreleased; 1999?
Ignition (remix) R. Kelly Unreleased; 2004?
I Will Survive Gloria Gaynor Unreleased; 2013?
I Wonder Where Our Love Has Gone Buddy Johnson (jazz standard) S; 1995
The Irony Engine Franklin Bruno Unreleased; 1996?
Lights Journey Unreleased; 2012?
Little Boxes Malvina Reynolds Compilation appearance; 2012
Lonesome Surprise Refrigerator NBP; 1995
Long Lost to Where No Pathway Goes Summoning Unreleased; 2012?
The Mad Clarinet The Cakekitchen Unreleased; 1997?
Merry Christmas from the Family Robert Earl Keen Unreleased; 2006?
Milkcrate Franklin Bruno Unreleased; 1995?
Moon and Sand Chet Baker NFJ; 1996
The Monolith In Solitude Unreleased; 2012?
Mutiny in Heaven Birthday Party Unreleased; unknown
One Fine Day Chiffons Unreleased; 2006?
Orange Furniture Huschle Unreleased; 2004?
Paint It Black Rolling Stones Unreleased; 2012?
Parting Friends Anonymous 4 Unreleased; 2012
Pet Politics Silver Jews Compilation appearance; 2005
Pirates (So Long Lonely Avenue) Rickie Lee Jones Unreleased; 1996
Plain Silkworm Unreleased; 2011?
Plead Me to a Lesser Charge GG Allin Compilation appearance; 2011
Positive Jam Hold Steady Unreleased; 2009?
Power in a Union Billy Bragg, Joe Hill Online release; 2011
Pretty in Pink Psychedelic Furs Unreleased; 2002?
Rainbow in the Dark Dio Unreleased; 2010?
Red River Valley Folk song Unreleased; 2007
Reel Around the Fountain Smiths Unreleased; 1997?
Ripple Grateful Dead Unreleased; 2002?
Rome Wasn't Built in a Day Furniture Huschle Unreleased; 2004?
Run Rudolph Run Chuck Berry Unreleased; 2006?
Sail On Commodores TTH, BMF; 1993; 1999
Shot in the Dark Ozzy Osbourne Unreleased; 2013?
Tell Me on a Sunday Andrew Lloyd Webber HGS; 1993
The Sign Ace of Base SFPH, BMF; 1995, 1999
The Smokey Life Leonard Cohen Unreleased; 2012
Sometimes I Still Feel the Bruise Trembling Blue Stars BS; 2006
Stars Fell on Alabama Frank Perkins and Mitchell Parish NBP; 1995
Suedehead Morrissey Unreleased; 2008?
Summer Nights Grease Unreleased; 2000?
Super Heroes Rocky Horror Picture Show Unreleased; 2011?
To Love Somebody Bee Gees Unreleased; 2006?
Terror Song Furniture Huschle Unreleased; 2003?
This Magic Moment The Drifers T6:TH; 1992
Those Treasures Will Never Befall You Darkthrone Unreleased; 2012?
Thy Word Amy Grant Unreleased; 2011?
Tomorrow Charles Strouse TY Japanese extra; 2012
Trash Suede Unreleased; 1996?
Two-Headed Boy Neutral Milk Hotel cover Unreleased; 1999?
Wayfaring Stranger Folk spiritual Unreleased; 2012?
We Bite Misfits Unreleased; 2007?
A Wedding in Cheshire County Randy Newman Unreleased; 1995?
When I Get Home Baby Dee Unreleased; 2002?
With Their Flesh, He'll Create Gorguts Unreleased; 2012?
Who You Are American Music Club Online release; 2014
World's Greatest R. Kelly Unreleased; 2010?
Yellow Coat Screamin' Jay Hawkins Unreleased; 2007?
You Better Keep It on Your Mind Hank Williams Unreleased; 2006?
You, Sailor Erin McKeown Unreleased; 2014?
You're So Vain Carly Simon HAFG; 1995

Outtakes, extras, and demos

Outtakes are defined here as being songs originally intended for a release but then ultimately being distributed elsewhere, whether or not they found their way on to a formal release (thus, in my schema, you can have an unreleased outtake or a released outtake). Extras are songs not intended for the main release but which were released in association with the release (for example, on a foreign release, demo, or reissue). Demos are preparatory versions of released songs; alternate takes are exactly what they sound like, differing from demos in not being rough cuts of more polished studio or boombox tracks.

Song Released on Orig. for; year
Abandoning My Father Talking Blues Unreleased TST; 2005?
Age of Kings [demo] All Survivors Pack AED; 2011
Alibi [demo] Seven for Australia BS; 2006?
Alpha Chum Gatherer Unreleased T; 2002?
Alpha Double Negative: Going to Catalina [alternate version] Nothing for Juice SFP; 1992
Answering the Phone All Hail West Texas reissue AHWT; 2013
Attention All Pickpockets Letter from Belgium WSABH; 2004
The Autopsy Garland [demo] All Survivors Pack AED; 2011
Beat the Devil Compilation appearance WSABH; 2004?
Beautiful Gas Mask [demo] All Survivors Pack AED; 2011
Black Ice Cream Song [Yamaraja Racers cover] Compilation appearance ZM; 2009
Birth of Serpents [demo] All Survivors Pack AED; 2011
Bride Online releases TLOTWTC; 2009
Brisbane Hotel Sutra Australian extra AED; 2011
Butter Teeth Palmcorder Yajna WSABH; 2004
Catherine Antrim's Kid All Survivors Pack AED; 2011
Chanson du Bon Chose [Yamaraja Racers cover] Compilation appearance NBP; 2009
Collapsing Stars Dilaudid; Come, Come to the Sunset Tree TST; 2005
Cut Off Their Thumbs #1 Hospicio de Huerfanos BRV1.2; 2003?
Daniel 12:8 (third) The Life of the World in Flux TLOTWTC; 2009
Daniel 12:8 (third) [alternate demo] Online release TLOTWTC; 2009
The Day the Aliens Came Come, Come to the Sunset Tree TST; 2005
Deserters Hospicio de Huerfanos WSABH; 2004
Design Your Own Container Garden See America Right T; 2002
Dilaudid (Marrtronix version) Dilaudid TST; 2005
Duke Ellington Protein Source of the Future... NOW! S; 1995
Enoch 18:14 [demo] The Life of the World in Flux TLOTWTC; 2009
Enoch 18:14 [studio] iTunes extra TLOTWTC; 2009
Estate Sale Sign [demo] All Survivors Pack AED; 2011
Ethiopians Unreleased T; 2002?
Etiquette Song Unreleased NFJ; 1996?
Flower Song Unreleased NFJ; 1996?
For Charles Bronson [demo] All Survivors Pack AED; 2011
Genesis 3:23 The Life of the World in Flux TLOTWTC; 2009
Going Invisible Seven for Australia GL; 2006
Going to Buffalo Unreleased NFJ; 1996?
Going to Detroit (edit) Unreleased NFJ, MAW; 1996?
Hardpan Song All Hail West Texas reissue AHWT; 2013
High Doses #2 Come, Come to the Sunset Tree TST; 2005
High Hawk Season [demo] All Survivors Pack AED; 2011
[Horse and Master] Unreleased S; 1995?
If You See Light [demo] Seven for Australia GL; 2006?
I Meant Every Word I Said in New Delhi Unreleased NFJ; 1996?
[I Might Compare] Unreleased S; 1995?
Indonesia All Hail West Texas reissue AHWT; 2013
In the Shadow of the Western Hills Steal Smoked Fish b/w In the Shadow of the Western Hills TY; 2012
I've Got the Sex Unreleased S; 1995?
Jenny [alternate take] All Hail West Texas reissue AHWT; 2013
Keeping House Japanese extra GL; 2006
Last Man on Earth [demo] Songs for Vamsidasa Babaji HP; 2008?
Last Man on Earth [studio] Amazon extra HP; 2008
[Let Me Go] Unreleased S; 1995?
Liza Forever Minnelli [demo] All Survivors Pack AED; 2011
Michael Myers Resplendent [demo] Songs for Vamsidasa Babaji HP; 2008?
Midland All Hail West Texas reissue AHWT; 2013
Naming Day Japanese extra GL; 2006
Never Quite Free [demo] All Survivors Pack AED; 2011
New Chevrolet in Flames See America Right T; 2002
New World Emerging Blues Seven for Australia WSABH; 2004?
Night Light [demo] Merge Records promo TY; 2012
No Children [demo] Online release T; 2002
No, I Can't [alternate version] Songs for Peter Hughes TTH; 1993
Nova Scotia Letter from Belgium WSABH; 2004
[One Frozen River Stuck in Time] Unreleased S; 1995?
Ox Baker Triumphant [demo] Seven for Australia BS; 2006?
Poltergeist Unreleased DITS; 1998?
Proverbs 6:27 [demo] The Life of the World in Flux TLOTWTC; 2009
Proverbs 6:27 [studio] Amazon extra TLOTWTC; 2009
Pure Crystal Unreleased NFJ; 1996?
Radical Evil Song Unreleased NFJ; 1996?
Rotten Stinking Mouthpiece [demo] All Survivors Pack AED; 2011
[Shield My Eyes Against the Glare] Unreleased S; 1995?
Shower Unreleased TCG; 1997?
[Slip Away from Me] Unreleased S; 1995?
Snakeheads Palmcorder Yajna WSABH; 2004
Something Blue Unreleased NFJ; 1996?
Song for God Unreleased AHWT; 2001?
Song for My Stepfather Unreleased TST; 2004?
Sourdoire Valley Song [demo] All Survivors Pack AED; 2011
Steal Smoked Fish [alternate take] Japanese extra TY, 2012
Steal Smoked Fish [studio] Steal Smoked Fish b/w In the Shadow of the Western Hills TY, 2012
Surrounded [demo] Online release MCB; 2009?
Tape Travel Is Lonely All Hail West Texas reissue AHWT; 2013
They Are Stone Swallowers Japanese extra GL; 2006
Tomorrow Japanese extra TY; 2012
Toolshed [demo] Songs for Vamsidasa Babaji HP; 2008?
Toolshed [studio] iTunes extra HP; 2008
Used to Haunt Japanese extra AED; 2011
Waco All Hail West Texas reissue AHWT; 2013
Wait for You [demo] Seven for Australia BS; 2006?
Warm Lonely Planet Unreleased AHWT; 2001?
We Shall All Be Healed Unreleased WSABH; 2004?
West Country Dream [live] Compilation appearance FFG; 1999
You & Me & a High Balcony Online release WSABH; 2004?

Footnotes

  1. VPRO session, January 15, 2003; why did you write so many alpha songs?, retrieved March 17, 2014.

  2. VPRO session, Zeldzaam Dwars, March 27, 2004; William Caxton Fan Club, why did you write so many alpha songs?, retrieved March 17, 2014.

  3. William Caxton Fan Club, Hi JD: So long as we're sharing Parents React to tMG..., retrieved March 17, 2014.

  4. Empty Bottle, Chicago, September 16, 2006.

  5. KJHK, March 2, 1997. Accessed via the Internet Archive on April 16, 2013 (mirror).

  6. Taking the Dative liner notes. This became the likely origin of the title Star Dusting.

    The Taking the Dative liner notes are a little inconsistent with the general story, describing (in my reading) them paying for some kind of transportation to Florida rather than driving, living in Portland, and the Alpha wife getting pregnant. It's not clear to me how reliable these additions are.

  7. Taking the Dative liner notes. Regarding whether or not they have children, Letter from a Motel claims that they have three daughters, but that's not particularly consistent with other aspects of the series, such as No Children.

  8. Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco, October 23, 2010; William Caxton Fan Club, the sleeve that held the boarding pass from my..., retrieved March 17, 2014; Opalis, Norman, Oklahoma, November 13, 2002; VPRO session, January 15, 2003; Transition Video Magazine Issue 001, 2005. If you don't have the VPRO session, it's too good to be missed, so get in touch. 2

  9. KJHK, March 2, 1997. Accessed via the Internet Archive on April 16, 2013 (mirror).

  10. "I'll tell you why I wrote this song, it was to make fun of Don DeLillo. Because the sun was an orange ball in about like five different instances in the space of fifty pages. I really like his writing, but I thought that was lazy. And so being an arrogant college student, I thought, I'll really get him, I'll write some song about him and my obscure little indie rock band will play it, and then, then we'll see who's funny. Thus was the Orange Ball series born." — July 2, 2005, Old American Can Factory, Brooklyn. See also Letters to Santa, Chicago, December 7, 2011.

  11. KJHK, March 2, 1997. Accessed via the Internet Archive on April 16, 2013 (mirror).

  12. KJHK, March 2, 1997. Accessed via the Internet Archive on April 16, 2013 (mirror).

  13. Thorn, Jesse (2011). John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats: Interview on The Sound of Young America. Bullseye: The Sound of Young America. Retrieved November 25, 2015.

  14. Adam, AKM. (2011). 'What these cryptic symbols mean': quotation, allusion, and John Darnielle's biblical interpretation. Biblical Interpretation 19: 109 – 128.

    My personal feeling is that this paper makes some speculative arguments about the predictability of John's Biblical references and about the stories in the songs he mentions, but some songs nonetheless have good analyses and the paper has good citations, making it worth the read.

  15. Breihan, Tom. (2009, September 8). "John Darnielle Tells the Story Behind the Mountain Goats' Biblical New LP" (mirror). Pitchfork. Retrieved May 16, 2012. 2

  16. See William Caxton Fan Club, a reader asks:, retrieved December 17, 2016; Mountain Goats forums, Favorite mountain goats bible reference, December 16, 2007, retrieved December 17, 2016. 2

  17. William Caxton Fan Club, Hey everybody, yesterday one of my teammates from..., Mountain Goats news, The Cream of the Crop, January 20, 2015, retrieved December 17, 2016.