Jason Molina - Photo by Steve Gullick

Photo by Steve Gullick


“I’m getting weaker / I’m getting thin / I hate how obvious I have been”



Let’s start this with a confession: up to this day, my first SONGS: OHIA-record, The Lioness, remains to be one of the most moving pieces of music I ever heard. I didn’t wanted it to be, no one told me to do so, I just stumbled upon it and have been mesmerized by it ever since. Sometimes, you can’t quite figure out what it is that moves you, and why it does. For me, this insight has never been more striking than it’s been with the music of JASON MOLINA. There’s words of solemn wisdom, sung by a unique, trembling voice in an ever-young blend of country and folk vibration; very familiar elements, but of a perfection, I rarely witnessed before in this very combination. Few artists ever rang those bells in me. With Jason Molina, one of those few passed away on Saturday, the 16th of March at the age of 39 – and with him, we lost one of the best songwriters of our time.

Starting his career under the songwriting moniker SONGS: OHIA in 1997, MOLINA made his first appearance in the music-business on WILL OLDHAM‘s Palace-label. An artistic connection that’s been stressed ever since, even though the cooperation ended shortly after as a guy named CHRIS SWANSON heard his music in a record store and consequently formed the Secretly Canadian-label just to be able to release what he heard. From there on, with the good guys of his label backing him, countless musical partners and changing band members at his side, Molina constantly improved his songwriting, finding his most confident voice in his latest project MAGNOLIA ELECTRIC CO. With STEVE ALBINI producing and a band, that translated his vision more completely than ever, their self-titled, inaugural release became the critically acclaimed, classic-rock-transformation, that made his often bleak and reduced songs seem much more positive. Yet, the cathartic act of music and poetry alone hasn’t been enough to help MOLINA get past the demons that haunted him and shone through his words in all of those years.


“Hold on Magnolia, I hear that station bell ring/ you might be holding the last light that I see/ before the dark finally gets a hold of me”



The often cited blue-collar-background of JASON MOLINA has always been both: inspiration and hindering of his career as a musician. He clearly felt the sense of old american songwriting traditions, dealing with guilt, passion, mysterious tales and adventurous minds, like he fell out of time, acting far beyond cultural fashions. But, like many of his contemporaries, he never made a proper living out of his music, and as a sad result, didn’t have a health insurance. A major problem for him and his family, for he was fighting with serious drinking problems that became public in 2011 and ultimately forced him into debts to pay the rehabs. The last efforts of his beloved ones to gather money for his treatment through a medical fund finally failed on last Saturday. Bitter enough, but since MOLINA left the public sphere for his recovery four years ago, he published notes that he was improving, thanking his fans for their mental and financial back-up. Now, that he died, A Sad Hard Change of last year’s reissue Autumn Bird Songs turns out to be the last song he sang for us, making it’s title a brutal prophecy. We’ve lost not only a prolific songwriter and utterly talented musician, but also a humble person. Hope remains, his work will never be forgotten.


“I thought that I’d live long enough/that the light would come shining through/but don’t this look like the dark?”