J-card of Taboo VI: The Homecoming

Taboo VI: The Homecoming

Title: Taboo VI: The Homecoming 1 2
Released: 1992 3
Label: Shrimper

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Liner notes

TABOO VI: THE HOMECOMING,

By the Mountain Goats, is:

  1. Running Away with what Freud Said.
  2. Ice Cream, Cobra Man
  3. Move (Chicago 196?)
  4. This Magic Moment
  5. Don't Take the Dogs Away
  6. One Winter at Point Alpha Privative
  7. Solomon Revisited
  8. Going to Alaska

(PLUS 2 BONUS TRACKS!)* 4

and was recorded in California. The Mountain Goats wish to extend their most sincere appreciation to Mark and Joel, and to Maria Leticia Hurtado-Chavez, a source of light on a dark mountain.

  1. I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry
  2. Eleven Bands (*)

Track 10 is a joint recording by the Mountain Goats + The Congress. Track 9 is track 9.

Mahayana 5

Is it possible for animals to be reborn as deities? 6

Table of contents

  1. Running Away with What Freud Said
  2. Ice Cream, Cobra Man
  3. Move (Chicago 196?)
  4. This Magic Moment
  5. Don't Take the Dogs Away
  6. One Winter at Point Alpha Privative
  7. Solomon Revisited
  8. Going to Alaska
  9. I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry
  10. Eleven Bands

Running Away with What Freud Said 7 8

"しあわせを
祈る女の 性かなし
辛や 重たや わが恋ながら
沖の瀬をゆく 底曳き網の
舟にのせたい..."
9

Big city, wide corner
New flowers,10 cold comfort
56 Fahrenheit early in the morning
Buses passing by, black smoke in their wake
Big surprises, a lot of big surprises
Bones ringing, running away with what Freud said 8

Same 11 morning, world breathing
Far, far from home
Big ringing in the bones
Whose bones are these — God please
Feel the pumping, feel the fresh blood pump inside
City's living,12 the city's truly living
What's the difference, running away with what Freud said

Ice Cream, Cobra Man 13

"I think a lot of women aren't willing to perform analingus immediately, they have to be sort of told or invited to it. I think they neglect it as being a erogenous zone on a man. I enjoy having my asshole licked during a 69 position while I am devouring her myself." 14

I have a hand disfigured by snakebite
I have a couple of things that I really like
And I am heading your way all the time

I'm gonna move all my vital organs
To someplace outside my body
The wiring is something you would not believe

I feel no pain
As I float across your ceiling
And I, I have no shame
I am in a thousand rooms all at the same time
Yeah, and I have a glass
Filled with water and light and I feel good tonight
I am climbing up this mountain
You can watch me
You can watch me

"Um, I just enjoy it very wet, and I — just knowing that the woman — and just imagining what she looks like with her tongue out licking me and at the same time feeling that sensation is just tremendously hot for me." 14

Move (Chicago 196?) 15

If you leave, you're gonna get athlete's foot
Athlete's foot
When you leave
Oooooo

Athlete's foot
Athlete's foot
Athlete's foot
When you leave
Oooooo
Oooooo

<voices and laughter> 16

If you leave, you're gonna get athlete's foot
Athlete's foot
When you leave
Oooooo

Athlete's foot
Athlete's foot
Athlete's foot
When you leave
Oooooo
Oooooo

This Magic Moment 17 18

"Morning."
<muffled response>
"Little bit tired?"
<muffled response>
"<inaudible> la noche. <dialogue in Spanish> encontrarlo." 19

This magic moment
So different and so new
Unlike any other
Until I kissed you

And then it happened
It took me by surprise
I knew that you felt it too
By the look in your eyes

Sweeter than wine
Softer than a summer night
The feeling I had inside
Whenever I held you tight

This magic moment
With your lips so close to mine
Will last forever
Forever 'til the end of time
Whoa
Whoa
Whoa

Sweeter than wine
Softer than a summer night
The feeling I had inside
Whenever I held you tight

This magic moment
With your lips so close to mine
Will last forever
Forever 'til the end of time
Whoa
Whoa
Whoa

Whoa
Whoa
Whoa
Whoa

<more dialogue in Spanish> 19

Don't Take the Dogs Away 20

Don't take the dogs away
Don't take the dogs away from me
Don't take the dogs away
Don't take the dogs away from me

You do this every time
You do this every time, I swear
You do this every time
You do this every time I'm there

Just look around the house
Just look around the house we're in
What should I say to you
Where do you want me to begin

Don't take the dogs away
Don't take the dogs away from me
Don't take the dogs away
Don't take the dogs away from me

One Winter at Point Alpha Privative 21 22

What the hell kind of deal is it here anyway
How much does it cost 23 and how long can we stay
Should we dance, should we sing, should we curse, should we pray 24
Do I have to hang on every single word that you say
Every hour, every minute, every second of the day
Hey hey hey hey hey hey hey

What the hell's going on at the edges of your face 25
There's nothing you can do,26 would it leave a single trace
Will it take your pretty features and lay them all to waste
Can we sit down over there, can we sit down any place
Can you feel the spirit moving, can you feel God's grace
Hey hey hey hey hey hey hey

Ever since I married you I've wondered what it means
That every single shirt I own is burst out at the seams
Every single piece of clothing,27 every last pair of jeans
All the reds, all the whites, all the yellows, all the greens 28
And I'm sure that there's a reason all of this is happening
Hey hey hey hey hey hey hey

Solomon Revisited 29 30 31

You say you came to see me
Because you had nothing else to do
But I've got a radio

You say you thought you'd stop on by
And let me have a look at you
But I've got a radio
I've got a radio
I've got a radio
I've got a radio
I've got a radio

You say you've brought some photographs
But I don't care to see them
'Cause I've got a radio

You say this place must get dull sometimes
But that's not the way I see it
'Cause I've got a radio
I've got a radio
I've got a radio
I've got me a radio
I've got a radio

You say these rocks are treacherous
But how long has it been since you've seen my feet, you see 32
I've got a radio

You warn me about all sorts of things
But they're not the sorts of warnings that I need, you see
I've got a radio
I've got a radio
I've got a radio
I've got a radio 33
I've got a radio

Going to Alaska 34 35 36 37

<muffled man's voice> 38

The jacaranda 39 are wet with color
And the heat is a great paintbrush lending color to our lives
To the air, and to our faces, but I'm going to Alaska
Where there's snow to suck the sound out from the air

Up, yes
In the branches
The purple blossoms go pale at the edges
There is meaning 40 in the shifting of the sap and I see in them traces
Of last year but then they hadn't grown so strong
And their limbs were more like wires, now they are cables
Thick and alive with alien electricity
And I am going to Alaska where you can go blind
Just by looking at the ground, where fat is eaten by itself
Just to keep the body warm 41

Because from where we are now it seems really
That everything is growing in a thousand different ways
That the soil is soaked through with old blood and with relatives
Who were buried here or close to here and they are giving rise
To what is happening,42 or can you tell me otherwise
I am going to Alaska where the animals can kill you
But they do so in silence as though if no one hears them
Then it really won't matter, I am going to Alaska
They tell me that it's perfect for my purposes

"... something to, uh, drag you all the way out here now, now, it's the lie we have to deal with now." 38

I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry 43 44 45 4

Hear that lonesome whip-poor-will 46 47
He sounds too blue to fly
The midnight train is whining low
I'm so lonesome I could cry

I've never seen a night so long
When time goes crawling by
The moon just went behind the clouds
To hide its face and cry

Did you ever see a robin weep 48
When leaves begin to die
That means he's lost the will to live
I'm so lonesome I could cry

The silence of a falling star
Lights up a purple sky
And as I wonder where you are
I'm so lonesome I could cry
I'm so lonesome I could cry

Eleven Bands 49 50 4 51

Follow the grass up the foot of the mountain
Follow the twisting branches
When you look at them remember that they
Are alive and flowing still
See their colors lighten as you climb
Watch the sunlight catch them and reflect them
It reflects them everywhere

One of these paths leading up the nameless mountain
Was the one that told you something once
But you will not find it here
It has shriveled up and wriggled off the mountain
Like a dying vine
Once these things take on their weightlessness
The structure comes apart
How do the trees grow in this weather
It is freezing cold
Take the path on up the mountainside
And all the sounds from far and wide
Will leave you suddenly
And sugared winds come through the clouds

  1. Taboo VI: The Homecoming, Nall, accessed September 14, 2015.

Credits

Thanks as always to Caliclimber, whose Flickr page provided the album art, and who also amazingly figured out the song at the beginning of Running Away With What Freud Said.

Footnotes

  1. "In 1992 my friend Dennis Callaci ran a label called Shrimper, and I had been starting to turn my poems into songs and I thought some of them were pretty good, so I put nine of them on a tape — eight or nine of them on a tape, and I gave it to Dennis, 'cause he had asked, 'Could I hear something?' And the next time I saw him, they had a cover that I had — I had drawn a little fake cover, you know, why wouldn't you do that, you can draw a little picture of a goat and like a brick wall behind him or something, you know and then write some fake liner notes on a typewriter, and give it to Dennis. And the next time I saw it, it was twenty copies of it that he had printed up, and he gave it back to me. And he had added a couple songs. I do not consider them part of the album. They were — it's very clear from the liner notes. That's how it came to pass that my first tape had bonus tracks." Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco, June 15, 2014

    "When I wrote and recorded Taboo VI, I had no idea that anyone outside of a few friends would ever hear it; neither did I hope that anyone outside of those friends would ever express any interest in it. A couple of the things on it (Going to Alaska, Eleven Bands, Solomon Revisited, the Hank Williams song) are things I'd stand by if pressed, though I wish I'd've known how to sing better back when they were recorded. While I completely understand the collector's urge, I would offer the following caveat to anyone trying to hunt down Taboo VI: it's not what you think it is. Its successor, the Hound Chronicles, represented an abrupt and total change in direction, and is the stylistic starting point for all that followed. While I can't and wouldn't disown Taboo VI, I'd like to offer this note of caution to those who like the later stuff and are trying to get their hands on my first efforts: you probably won't like it much, and if you pay an inflated price for it, you'll probably feel cheated. Having said that, if you still feel inclined to hunt it down, I do hope that you enjoy it on its own meager terms. It means well and didn't want to hurt anyone. Except for maybe that one guy. I hate that guy." Comment from John Darnielle on Taboo VI: The Homecoming, May 29, 1997

    "Tantric lo-fi by a not-so-lapsed Catholic. A suburban Chris Knox. A bottled Barrell, a patchwork of songs lost and found." Catalog description on insert in the Back to the Egg, Asshole Shrimper compilation.

    "If I ever reissue that thing, you'll know that I, like, need a new kidney or something." Zoop, Farm Sanctuary, New York, June 17, 2007

    "If you never hear that tape, it'll be better for you." Brownie's, New York, April 12, 1998

    "'Leave the dead to bury their dead,' as Christ put it -- the world is a better place without Taboo VI fouling its already-polluted air." Heavy Metal, Ephemera, and Popular Culture: A Chat With the Mountain Goats, Space City Rock, Spring 2001

    "Good, good, good, good, good. No one should own that. It's not very good." KJHK interview, March 2, 1997. In this same interview, John claimed that he was working on a sequel to Taboo VI which would "answer any questions raised by the predecessor", which hasn't surfaced. 

  2. I'm not sure what the origin of the title is — if you do, please email me. Taboo is a pornographic film series which runs from Taboo through Taboo 23 as of 2015, and Taboos 3 through 7 had titles which are very similar to the title of this album. Specifically:

    • Taboo 3: The Final Chapter
    • Taboo 4: The Younger Generation
    • Taboo 5: The Secret
    • Taboo 6: The Obsession
    • Taboo 7: The Wild And The Innocent

    These were released between 1984 and 1989, early enough that John could have based the album title off of them. Given the sexual theme of other aspects of the album, this seems reasonable to me. 

  3. Although the Mountain Goats website lists the release as 1991, the insert lists the release as 1992. Further, Tim Adams from Ajax and Three Beads of Sweat (and who also put together the discography that formed the basis of what eventually was listed on the Mountain Goats website) confirms this release chronology:

    I got a lot of my "release dates" from looking back at when I received stock at Ajax – not a perfect method, but close enough. Anyway, my comments:

    So here's what we've got:
    1992
    -Taboo VI* – I first stocked this in May '92, but may have originally come out in '91. (I believe that May '92 was the first time I had dealt with Shrimper catalog)
    -Hound Chronicles* – first stocked August '92
    -Songs for Petronius* – first stocked January '93 \ 1993
    -Transmissions to Horace (?) [I'm leaning toward this one] – first stocked July '93
    -Chile de Arbol* – I put this out, so I know the release date was 6/28/93
    -Hot Garden Stomp* – first stocked October '93
    -Philyra* (Cusp of 94?) – first stocked Feb. '94
    1994
    -Things Get Confusing
    In some order:
    -Beautiful Rat Sunset* (I suspect this is early b/c it was recorded Summer 93 but vinyl manufacturing takes a while) – first stocked Feb. '94 Why You All? (I have no idea) – first stocked July '94

    (The asterisks just label releases which have Bright Mountain Choir listed as contributors.)

    Tim Adams. I need research help. Mountain Goats forums, April 26, 2012. Retrieved September 15, 2015.

    For more on discography history, see shlack's post as well. 

  4. As John explains above, Dennis Callaci added the recordings of I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry and Eleven Bands to the eight songs that John had given to him and therefore never considered them to be part of the album. This was additionally emphasized when John played the whole tape live at the Bottom of the Hill as part of the Twin Inhuman Highway Fiends tour in 2014 with Peter Hughes, as he concluded the tape with Going to Alaska.

    Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco, June 15, 2014. See also Zoop, Farm Sanctuary, New York, June 17, 2007.  2 3

  5. Mahayana is a major school of Buddhist thought, with the majority of the world's Buddhists falling under its traditions as of 2015. Contrasted primarily with Theravada, the Mahayana (or "great vehicle") places as the purpose of Buddhist practice not just transcendence of samsara and attainment of Buddhahood, but becoming a bodhisattva, a Buddha who practices to help all sentient beings attain enlightenment. 

  6. This question is most similar to the famous Zen koan, Joshu's dog, one of the koans in the 13th century Zen text The Gateless Gate, compiled by the Chinese master Wumen Huikai:

    A monk asked Zhaozhou, "Does a dog have Buddha-nature or not?"
    Zhaozhou replied, "Mu."

    The koan includes the answer "mu", meaning "nothing" or "nonexistence". The purpose of the koan is to impress upon the student that Buddha-nature should be realized through practice rather than through memorization of dogma. As the Gateless Gate continues:

    Has a dog Buddha-nature?
    This is the most serious question of all.
    If you say yes or no,
    You lose your own Buddha-nature. 

  7. "It's a cryptic little song that seems not to actually be about anything. But it's about — it's like one of the first four or five Mountain Goats song ever written, I didn't really know what I was doing, that's kind of the charm of that first cassette, if it has a charm to speak of... So the song is about how I had this real bad blackout when I lived in Portland, I was kind of a mess up there. And I had this blackout where when I came to I didn't know what day it was and I think I had been out for four or five days, but I had in my mind that I had been out for longer than that. So I elected to stay in the house longer until I could figure out what day it was. This was not really too bright, but, so, but I was there for a couple more days, you know, convinced that I didn't have, I was pretty crazy, and you know, and finally I was like, 'Oh, fuck it, I'm going outside.' And I combed my hair and I put on my hat and my sunglasses with[out] which I did not leave the house, and I walked outside and it wasn't cold anymore, as it had been when I had blacked out. And I looked around, and they'd put flowers in the planters in downtown Portland. I was like, it was like the whole world was transformed, and it wasn't my body anymore, because, and that's what the line, 'whose bones are these' is in that song, is because my hip was clicking. It clicked for another 2 years, the hip. That's the end of that story." Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco, June 13, 2006. 

  8. Sigmund Freud was a 19th – 20th century Austrian neurologist who founded psychoanalysis, a theory of psychology which postulated that suppressed urges from forgotten childhood events determine much of human behavior. His tremendous influence on psychology lives on today even though many of this theories were ultimately proven false.  2

  9. This is from Midare Gami by the famous Japanese singer Hibari Misora. The song takes its title from Midaregami, which means "tangled hair", itself a collection of short poems (called a tanka) written by Akiko Yosano in 1901 depicting the sexual awakening of a young Japanese woman. Transliterated into rōmaji, this reads:

    ... [shiaw]ase o
    Inoru on-na no saga kanashi
    Tsura ya omota ya waga koi nagara
    Oki no se o yuku sokobiki ami no
    Fune ni nosetai...

    This is from the second stanza of the song. In full, the song goes:

    髪の乱れに 手をやれば (Kami no midare ni te o yareba)
    赤い蹴出しが 風に舞う (Akai kedashi ga kaze ni mau)
    憎や 恋しや 塩屋の岬 (Niku ya koishi ya Shioya no misaki)
    投げて届かぬ 想いの糸が (Nagete todokanu omoi no ito ga)
    胸にからんで 涙をしぼる (Mune ni karande namida wo shiboru)

    すてたお方の しあわせを (Suteta okata no shiawase o)
    祈る女の 性かなし (Inoru on-na no saga kanashi)
    辛や 重たや わが恋ながら (Tsura ya omota ya waga koi nagara)
    沖の瀬をゆく 底曳き網の (Oki no se o yuku sokobiki ami no)
    舟にのせたい この片情け (Fune ni nosetai kono kata nasake)

    春は二重に 巻いた帯 (Haru ha futae ni maita obi)
    三重に巻いても 余る秋 (Mie ni maitemo amaru aki)
    暗や 涯てなや 塩屋の岬 (Kura ya hate na ya Shioya no misaki)
    見えぬ心を 照らしておくれ (Mienu kokoro o terashite okure)
    ひとりぽっちに しないでおくれ (Hitori pocchi ni shinaide okure)

    This translates to:

    When I extended my hand over the tangling hair
    The bright red slip of kimono fled up in the air
    Bearing hate and longing at the same time, at Shioya am I now
    The mental threads of my heart can't reach him by any means
    The threads left in my mind will cause me to shed tears

    A woman wishes happiness for the man who dumped her
    I feel her woman-nature, rather too sad
    Bearing pain and heaviness, this is, though, my love
    I wish I could ask the trawling ship on the sea
    To load up and carry away this, my one way love

    In spring this belt was fastened in two turns
    In autumn, surprisingly, it goes, more than three
    Bearing gloom and no ending at Shioya am I now
    I wish his heart could be lit up by the lighthouse
    His image is always on my mind; so don't leave me alone

    See the Usenet thread which provided the above transliteration and translation for additional details on the translation.

    B. Ito et. al. Big Boss. sci.lang.japan Usenet newsgroup, April 17, 2001. Retrieved September 14, 2015. 

  10. Also sung, "New morning, cold comfort". Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco, June 13, 2006. 

  11. Sometimes sung, "New morning, world breathing". Nall reports that this is the album lyric but I'm pretty sure what I transcribed as the default is the original lyric — the 's' sound is very clear. WNUR session, April 8, 2002; Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco, June 13, 2006; The Independent, San Francisco, April 7, 2007; Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco, June 15, 2014. 

  12. Also sung, "Portland's living, the city's truly living". Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco, June 13, 2006. 

  13. "??? I don't do the rips - I believe in keeping things intact as they are, down with historical revisionism! If Taboo VI does not offend it has failed in its mission!" Mountain Goats forums.Taboo VI Dialogue. January 21, 2009. Retrieved September 15, 2015.

    This was posted after John discovered that the copy of Taboo VI that was circulating online had the analingus clips removed. 

  14. "There are these samples from some like, you know, book on tape about improving your sex life that I used, 'cause samples were the big thing in the cassette community at that time. And in one of them there's a guy being very candid about how he likes for someone to 'lick his asshole', that's the way he puts it. And he puts it in a very loving voice." Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco, June 13, 2006

    As John explains above, this seems to be a clip from some sort of sex advice tape, but I've never found the source. If you know what it's from, please contact me 2

  15. "Oh yeah. Man, this is a song that's easy to sing. It's one of two on the setlist I'm pretty sure have never been played live, 'cause the world wasn't ready for the deep truths I was spitting back then. But if the spirit moves you, if you already know the words, or if you only learn them the first time through, they're not gonna change during the dream pop interlude between verses." Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco, June 15, 2014 

  16. "During the song on the tape, you hear a sound during this section. You may wonder, what is that solo, what is that innovative musical technique that young John has stumbled across? But it was that my mom found me trying to overdub some piano and she came up and started up a conversation, and I tried to wave her off, because I was recording a take, and I didn't want to have to redo it. And so then she picked up a little pig — a toy pig — and began to squeeze it into the microphone." Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco, June 15, 2014 

  17. This Magic Moment is part of the informal series of cover songs

  18. This Magic Moment is a cover of the famous song written by Doc Pomus and recorded by the Drifters in 1960 and by Jay and the Americans in 1969. 

  19. I unfortunately have been unable to either transcribe this dialogue effectively or find its origin. If you can help with either, please let me know 2

  20. "This song expresses a certain universal human feeling. I'm puzzled to this day as to why it wasn't an international top ten hit making me and Dennis Callaci tycoons." Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco, June 15, 2014 

  21. "This is the first of the Alpha songs, which was the project that gave birth to the Mountain Goats. I was writing these poems called 'Songs from Point Alpha Privative' and, but I was discovering with poems, nobody wanted to read any poems. If you show up with your poems, people like, they're busy, they have a thing to do. But if you're writing poems probably you're like, 'No, I would like some attention for these poems, that's why I write them, because they need attention.' So I started setting them to music. And then they seemed less offensive then to people. So that's where they went. And this was — and then also it opens you up to using a lot more rhyme, because rhyme on the page, people, the people who do want to read poetry don't want to read the stuff that rhymes, whereas the people who listen to songs, which are better than poems, are totally into rhymes. So anyway, so this song is a repeating AAAA rhyme scheme through three stanzas." Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco, June 15, 2014

    See also the banter for Going to Alaska.

    "The Alpha series is — I think I started titling them that way largely because I was writing so many songs at the time that I needed to keep track of which ones were in the series so I'd know, and that was a nice signal, the Alpha in the title, that it was about this couple. It stemmed originally from a misunderstanding of the term 'alpha privative' which is the 'a' in front of a word that negates: moral, amoral, right. In Latin that's called alpha privative. When I first learned that I was like twenty and I was like, 'Awesome, the letter that negates!', you know. A couple years later I was talking to my Latin teacher about it and he was like, 'Yeah, it just doesn't carry that kind of force, nobody thinks of the term alpha privative as something you know, annihilating stuff.' But I did. So I called the set Songs from Point Alpha Privative. And, so I started writing these Alpha songs to look at, to try and inhabit the divorcing mindset a little bit, maybe to come to grips with the fact that my parents divorced, and to see what thoughts and feelings I had about all that. And then as time passed the characters got more blood and bone on them and I just sort of would play with them, torture them." VPRO session, Zeldzaam Dwars, March 27, 2004

    As John says above, an a privative, or α privative, is exactly what he explains it is: the prefix a- or an- which denotes the opposite of the root word. It is used in Latin, Greek, Sanskrit, and many modern languages. 

  22. One Winter at Point Alpha Privative is part of the Alpha couple series and the informal series of Biblical references

  23. Also sung, "How much should we dance..." Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco, June 15, 2014. 

  24. Also sung, "Should we dance, should we listen, should we sing, should we pray". Bottom of the Hill, June 15, 2014. 

  25. The lyrics of the second verse, particularly the second and third lines, and parts of the third verse are extremely muffled and maybe not even preserved on the studio recording. These lyrics have been reconstructed both from the original recording on Taboo VI and from the only known studio recording at the Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco, June 15, 2014. Where any disparity exists, I've transcribed the lyrics of the original.

    Notably I disagree with Nall about the first line of the second verse, which he transcribes as "What the hell's going on at the end of the debate". After listening closely to the original and the live version I'm confident that this is instead as I've transcribed.

    The live recording switches in a number of places 'we' for 'you' but is otherwise structurally similar, except as noted. 

  26. John has changed the emphasis here to "Is there something we can do..." Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco, June 15, 2014. 

  27. Sometimes sung, "Every last pair of sneakers..." Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco, June 15, 2014. 

  28. John sometimes changes the colors, for example, to, "All the reds, all the yellows, all the blues, all the greens". Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco, June 15, 2014. 

  29. John: "We used to play this in every set. This was the high point of a Mountain Goats set. This is it. Everything built toward this one."

    Peter: "Well, it would be the last song. When I was, when I was first going, when I was first seeing the Mountain Goats, which was what, like, a year after this tape came out? Less, maybe? And every set would end with this song, and everybody there would sing."

    John: "'Cause I knew it would kill. I knew they would all love me once they heard about this song... What it lacks in subtlety, it makes up for in radio."

    Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco, June 15, 2014.

    "This was the last song — except that then Dennis put another song, he thought, two songs he thought was good on the tape, right, I was like, well, I can't be bitching out to people who put out my tape, but I was thinking, 'Aw, man, that was supposed to be the last song on the tape! Now what have you done? Now everyone will think the sequence is all messed up when they hear this magnificent tape, Taboo VI: The Homecoming, oh no, oh no! History will not tell the truth about this album.' So, that's why it's being remastered in 128 bits... I used to enjoy playing this when I was opening for people who other people had come to see and, like, pretending like this was the song that actually everybody really came to see, and making them sing it." Zoop, Farm Sanctuary, New York, June 17, 2007

    Note that the last song would actually have been Going to Alaska, but John gets it close. 

  30. Solomon Revisited is part of the informal series of Biblical references

  31. In the Bible, Solomon was a 10th century BC king of Israel and the son of David. He built the First Temple in Jerusalem and remains a cultural icon of wisdom and fairness, although he ultimately led to the dissolution of the Kingdom of Israel. 

  32. "That was the only mountain goat reference I ever made in a song, by the way. 'Cause mountain goats could climb rocks that are vertical. Now you know the dreadful truth of that line. I apologize." Zoop, Farm Sanctuary, New York, June 17, 2007 

  33. Similarly to No, I Can't, John has occasionally added in his Panasonic to the lyrics, for example, "I've got an AM/FM Panasonic dual cassette radio". Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco, June 15, 2014. 

  34. "people ask me about 'the creative process'* and here's this song, I'll tell you a little about it: I was living in employee housing in Norwalk. I had been writing poetry since I was 14: about eight years. When you're 22 'since I was fourteen' feels like 'all my life,' or did to me, though time gives one perspective on this feeling. Anyway, I'd gone from free verse crew to meter and rhyme patrol, as many do, and had arrived at a nice synthesis for me, where I was comfortable working in meter but admired writers who could work in variable line-lengths and still have their verse sing: whose poems still felt like verse, like song, which I still felt & feel is the parent tree from which poetry oughtn't fall too far.

    "I had written some songs, and I don't know where in the writing of that first batch I did this, but I still consider this the first Mountain Goats song (or second; 'The Pieman' also vies for the title). It began life as a poem, which I'll transcribe below; I'm not 100% sure that I'm getting all the line-stops right, but it's close. (I have consigned as much of my poetry from back then to the trash can as I have been able to lay hands to.) One day I was sitting around with this Hawaiian guitar I'd bought for thirty bucks and a heavy steel slide, bottleneck guitar, and I had a progression I liked and wanted to sing something to it, so I sang that poem, and that's what happened.

    "Huge credit to Lewis Turco, whose book I had been studying — when I say 'studying,' I mean 'spending several hours a day with, writing poems and lines in notebooks on the floor of my apartment, doing this to the exclusion of other activity' — the introduction to that book played a huge part in getting me comfortable with rhythm and meter, in getting from the 'ok, yes, technically that's a pentameter line' stage to somewhere near the goal of 'these lines sound natural, and they're also metered.' I was trying, too, to write poems that worked like Browning's Dramatis Personae (and like the stuff in Norman Dubie's Groom Falconer, which was new-ish, and which I was freaking out about): where the narrator, who seems to just be talking, tells you a lot about himself (much of it often not very pretty) and tells a story in the process without actually laying down a clear narrative line: puzzles. I suspect that I submitted this to several poetry journals, who I now thank for rejecting it. It works better with a little guitar.

    "*I am allergic to this term though, it's just work, a kind of work, better to think in terms of baking or cooking: what are the ingredients, how much of each, how hot does it gotta get in the room they're put together for things to come out right"

    William Caxton Fan Club. fishingboatproceeds: 42 Days of the Mountain... Retrieved September 16, 2015.

    "That song was a poem first. I was writing poems, and I had that poem, and I thought, 'Boy, the language in this is pretty decent, this is a nice piece of writing', and then I had this new guitar and I had a slide, a Hawaiian finger covering slide, and I tuned the guitar to a chord, and worked on it, and I thought, you know, that sounds pretty cool, you know. And you can hear the rhythms, the speech rhythms, in a way that you can't looking at it on the page, so I mean I will, I'm sure the performance is kind of rough, I haven't listened to that in a long time, but I do know all the words and I think they're all right." Sound of Young America interview, April 7, 2011

    "This song was originally a poem. This is, if not the very first Mountain Goats song — it's not the first one, but I was writing poetry. I was going to be a famous poet. It was gonna be amazing. I was going to remind people how, that they have poetry in their spirits and bodies, that they really enjoy poetry. There was gonna be a thing I was gonna do, and so I was going to poetry readings. Poetry readings will disabuse you of your idea that people are gonna love poetry and it's really gonna inspire them in their minds and their bodies. Because although I love all the poets, every last one of them with everything in me, they are the only people at the poetry readings. So I started putting some of them to music because I liked them and I wanted people to hear them in some way. And this was one that was a poem that I had labored very hard on, and then I bought this cheap guitar that you played with a slide, right, and I tuned it to an open tuning and on the original version that I don't know if anybody's heard it before: weeeerow, wEEEErow, weeerow, just insufferably for two minutes." Old Town School of Folk Music, Chicago, April 20, 2014

    See also the banter for One Winter at Point Alpha Privative

  35. Going to Alaska is part of the Going to ... series

  36. Alaska is the northernmost of the United States, situated partially above the Artic Circle and bordered by the Canadian territories of Yukon and British Columbia. 

  37. As mentioned above, John transcribed this in its original poem form. Although its nearly identical, the punctuation and small grammatical changes gives it a distinctly different poetic feeling and thus is worthy of reproduction here:

    The jacaranda are wet with color,
    and the heat is a great paintbrush, lending color to our lives
    and to the air, and to our faces; but I'm going to Alaska,
    where there's snow to suck the sound out from the air.

    Up, yes, in the branches
    the purple blossoms go pale at the edges;
    there is moaning in the shifting of the sap, and I see, in them, traces
    of last year; but then they hadn't grown so strong,
    and their limbs were more like wires. Now they are cables
    thick and alive with alien electricity,
    and I am going to Alaska, where you can go blind
    just by looking at the ground; where fat is eaten by itself
    just to keep the body warm.

    Because from where we are now, it seems, really,
    that everything is growing in a thousand different ways:
    that the soil is soaked through with old blood, and with relatives
    who were buried here, or close to here, and they are giving rise
    to what is happening. Or can you tell me otherwise?
    I am going to Alaska, where the animals can kill you,
    but they do so in silence, as though if no-one hears them,
    then it really won't matter. I am going to Alaska!
    They tell me that it's perfect for my purposes.

    William Caxton Fan Club. fishingboatproceeds: 42 Days of the Mountain... Retrieved September 16, 2015. 

  38. As with some of the other recordings on this album, I unfortunately can't make out everything the man here says. If you can, please let me know! Please also contact me if you know where this comes from.  2

  39. Jacaranda are, as described, a tropical flowering plant with purple petals that fade into white stripes. 

  40. In the original poem, this read "moaning", not "meaning". John explains, "while tracking the 'studio'/first-tape version of this I misread the line on the page as 'meaning,' and kept it, and I've sung it that way ever since, but this was the actual line in the poem."

    William Caxton Fan Club. fishingboatproceeds: 42 Days of the Mountain... Retrieved September 16, 2015. 

  41. "young poets are required by law to use the phrase 'the body' often or they get thrown in young poets jail. when you age out of young poets school you get to talk a little less unreasonably and might recast the line as 'where you carry gristle packets / just in case you've gotten lost / and you have to eat, or die.'"

    William Caxton Fan Club. fishingboatproceeds: 42 Days of the Mountain... Retrieved September 16, 2015. 

  42. "note that I have to mispronounce 'happening' to make it really fit the meter. I judge myself harshly for this, it's something I try to avoid always and everywhere"

    William Caxton Fan Club. fishingboatproceeds: 42 Days of the Mountain... Retrieved September 16, 2015. 

  43. Asked about the musicians on this song, John replied:

    ha I'll field this one - the players are anonymous, it was recorded at a miniature golf course at a "your voice on your favorite songs!" booth - they have generic instrumental tracks and you go into a booth and sing over them. translating as I go is my then-girlfriend Leticia.

    Mountain Goats forums. I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry. July 16, 2009. Retrieved September 16, 2015. 

  44. I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry is part of the informal series of cover songs

  45. I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry was originally a 1949 country blues song written and sung by Hank Williams, Sr. Since then, it has been extensively covered, with many of those covers charting as high or higher than the original, which itself was already very popular. 

  46. A whip-poor-will is an American nocturnal bird in the family of nightjars. It has left a large cultural legacy in folk songs and stories due to its distinctive, sad-sounding song. 

  47. The entire song is simultaneously translated into Spanish spoken over John's singing. The translation was done by John's then-girlfriend Leticia. I believe she says the following:

    Oye te pájaro solo
    Te oye muy azul para volar
    El tren de medianoche está pasando muy despacio
    Estoy tan solo que puedo llorar

    Nunca he mirado una noche tan larga
    Cuando el tiempo pasa tan despacio
    La luna acaba de pasar detrás de las [nubes]
    Está escondiendo la cara está llorando

    Has mirado un pájaro pasar tan despacio
    Cuando las hojas empiezan a callarse
    Eso que significa ha perdido [la voluntad de vivir]
    Estoy tan solo que puedo llorar

    El silencio de la estrella que caída
    Ha luz a el cielo morado
    Y luego pienso donde estás
    Estoy tan solo de que, que puedo llorar
    Estoy tan solo que puedo llorar

    Text in brackets contains words that I was unable to hear but assume were intended to be there to complete the sentence. (This was a challenge to transcribe, so please, if you see Spanish errors or heard something different, por favor dígame. I think there may be some errors in the Spanish translation, which I've preserved here, but I could also just have misheard it). The Spanish phrases are nearly a word-for-word translation of the song with some creative license — for example, the third verse says, "Have you seen a bird pass so slowly", among other small changes.

    Mountain Goats forums. I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry. July 16, 2009. Retrieved September 15, 2015. 

  48. A robin is an American bird in the thrush family, commonly associated with the onset of spring. 

  49. Eleven Bands is part of the informal series of cover songs

  50. Eleven Bands is a cover of a song by the Congress, a band that John played in prior to the formation of the Mountain Goats. The band included Mark Givens from Wckr Spgt (thanked in numerous releases and referenced in Song for Mark and Joel), Caroline Poynter, Jim Banwell, and Donna Destiny. Eleven Bands was originally released on No Milk Since 1979 on the Cache Cow label in 1991. 

  51. I have a number of disagreements with Nall about these lyrics, so consider both if you're having a tough time hearing them (and let me know how you decide). Unfortunately there are no live versions that I am aware of that would allow another method of comparison.