Meet Me Where We Survive

MEC

Hard to believe Jason Molina’s gone two years. No artist matters more to me. Here’s an essay I wrote the week he died.

A lot of people ask me where to start with Molina. Can’t really go wrong, but I usually point folks to the North Star Blues Session, a live set from a radio show in Belgium. It’s Molina at his rawest and most haunting.

Andrew Bryant, who put out one of my favorite records of the year, This is the Life, wrote a tribute to Molina over at Common Folk Music. Damn beautiful piece of writing.

And I just read about this book over on the Magnolia Electric Co. site and ordered it right away: Meet Me Where We Survive: Jason Molina Interviews, 1998-2002. Always good to have Molina’s words. Can’t wait for this to come in the mail. (There’s also info on a new tribute record called Through the Static and Distance.)

Last thing: Another favorite record of the year is Jake Xerxes Fussell’s s/t debut from Paradise of Bachelors. Here’s a profile I wrote of Jake over at No Depression: “The Dave Van Ronk of SEC Country.”

Hammer down, pals.

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Journey On

1. The Oxford Conference for the Book starts today. Some good stuff lined up as usual. Especially pumped for Kevin Young on Thacker Mountain Radio tomorrow night.

Here’s Kevin Young talking about Book of Hours on NPR recently.

And here’s his “Ode to Ol’ Dirty Bastard,” one of my favorite poems of his.

 

2. The Southern Literary Festival starts tomorrow. Lots of good stuff lined up for that, too. I’m teaching a fiction master class on Saturday morning at 9. I’ll be talking about writing advice from Richard Price, David Milch, Don Carpenter, Flannery O’Connor, Nelson Algren, and a bunch of other stuff. The Isom Student Gender Conference is happening simultaneously, and I can’t wait for Laura Lippman’s Friday keynote: “When Harriet the Spy Grew up: Feminism and the Second Golden Age of American Crime Fiction.” And the great Megan Abbott is giving the Southern Literary Festival’s keynote right after that.

3. Here’s a damn good profile of Killer Mike from The Bitter Southerner. He has a son named Pony Boy – that’s just the best.

4. That ’80s Dylan tribute is out. Hit or miss but worth it for these tracks: Craig Finn, “Sweetheart Like You”; Built to Spill, “Jokerman”; Hannah Cohen, “Covenant Woman”; and Elvis Perkins, “Congratulations.”

5. Angel Olsen – Live on KEXP. Man.

6. Spent Saturday at The End of All Music spinning the Merge reissue of one of my all-time favorite records, Richard Buckner’s Bloomed.bloomed

7. Clay Jones made a mix for Lent Magazine.

8. Download this: The War on Drugs at the Bowery Ballroom on 3/19/14 via NYC Taper.

9. Joe Hill said this about The Fall on Twitter the other day: “In a golden age of TV, Gillian Anderson drops a steely, quietly commanding performance [. . .] to match the very best of the day.” Completely agree. Easily one of the best things I’ve watched lately. Anderson is fucking incredible. It’s streaming on Netflix.

10. Rectify is also streaming on Netflix now. One of my top two or three shows from the last few years. Ray McKinnon rules.

11. Haven’t read much Harlan Coben – this Times By the Book feature really makes me like him.

12. Shailene Woodley was goddamn brilliant in The Spectacular Now, but holy shit, this is the funniest thing I’ve read this year.

13. Got to see David Gordon-Green’s Joe at a screening here in Oxford last week. Thought it was top-notch. His best movie since George Washington. Nic Cage and Tye Sheridan were damn good, but the non-actors stole it. Just a great take on one of my favorite books.

14. Tracklist for Songs: Ohia’s Journey On: Collected Singles.

15. Tumblr bullshit.

16. Other things I’m listening to: New one from The Hold Steady, Teeth Dreams, is killer. I was pretty lukewarm on Heaven is Whenever, so I’m glad to have them back.  Paradise of Bachelors just reissued Lavender Country – So damn good. Can’t stop spinning Bob Mould’s Workbook 25 from Omnivore. Got it on CD for the bonus stuff on the second disc. Been listening to Crooked Fingers’s Dignity and Shame for the first time in a long time. Almost forgot how goddamn perfect this song is:

17. Finally watched The Counselor last night. Thought it was way better than most folks said but also felt pretty let down. Couldn’t sleep and watched West of Memphis, too. A brutal and beautiful documentary. Finished it around 3 in the morning and got into bed next to my wife and son and just held them.

 

 

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1. Read at Nightbird Books in Fayetteville last weekend. Hell of a good town. Had a great time. Thanks to Rachael, Cale, Katy, and everyone who came out. Thanks especially to Lisa at Nightbird. Also got to spend a little time at Dickson Street Bookshop. What a bookstore! Only had about fifteen minutes, but I found some great stuff. Impossible not to in that joint. Can’t wait to go back and spend a few hours there.

Reading at Nightbird Books.

Reading at Nightbird Books.

Haul from Dickson Street Bookshop.

Haul from Dickson Street Bookshop.

2. Thanks to John Stonehouse for this review of Gravesend, Gareth Price for this one, and Lee Durkee for this one.

3. My pal Jimmy Cajoleas interviewed Willy Vlautin over at Lent. A couple of choice quotes from Willy:

“You get beat up in life, and you get sucker-punched, and bad things happen. If you keep an open heart and don’t get bitter and you keep trying, then shit will break your way once in a while. I really try to believe that all the time. So I think the characters kind of reflect that.”

“And I tend to try to write as a fan. I’m a firm believer in being a fan of things. I try to write with blood, you know, with the things that haunt me the most.”

4. George Pelecanos is the guest programmer on TCM tonight. Showing two of my favorites, The Seven-Ups and The Outfit.

Here’s a thing I wrote about The Outfit for my ’70s crime movie blog. And here’s a thing I wrote about The Seven-Ups.

5. I’m reading Per Petterson’s I Curse the River of Time. Goddamn.

6. A few things I’m really excited about re: Record Store Day:
a) All that’s happening at The End of All Music here in Oxford (where I work part-time)
b) Songs: Ohia’s Journey On: Collected Singles
c) This 7″ from The Delines, Willy Vlautin’s new band (as well as their forthcoming LP, Colfax)

7. Jason Molina passed away a year ago yesterday. Still tears out my guts that he’s gone. Here’s an essay I wrote for The Rumpus about how much his work has meant to me.

8. Happy St. Paddy’s Day. This is just about my favorite song/poem ever. And this performance drops me every damn time.

9. Recently picked up one of my favorite movies, Rolling Thunder, on Blu-Ray. Watched it with pals Ace Atkins, Jack Pendarvis, and Megan Abbott for our movie night on Saturday. Ace’s wife, Angela, shared some North Carolina moonshine with us. Best thing I’ve ever had. No kidding. Was having some killer wisdom tooth pain and it got cured. After a killer dinner and the moonshine, we rewatched the Root Beer Guy episode of Adventure Time (Jack writes for the show and voices RBG). Then we settled in for Rolling Thunder – I think I was the only one who’d seen it before – and it was goddamn wonderful.  Shout!Factory did a great job with the Blu-Ray. John Flynn is a hell of a good director but there were times when the movie looked as beautiful as a William Eggleston photo. And Linda Haynes, well, we all got a little obsessed with Linda Haynes.

Moonshine.

Moonshine.

Linda Haynes in ROLLING THUNDER.

Linda Haynes and William Devane in ROLLING THUNDER.