Since his passing five years ago, Jason Molina’s music seems to have gravitated to the forefront of music fans’ collective consciousness, but his superb songs have still never quite gotten the credit they deserve. The prolific folk lyricist who wrote music as Songs: Ohia, Magnolia Electric Co. and under his own name died in 2013 at only 39 from complications due to alcoholism, rattling his small but devoted fan base consisting of musicians like Jim James and The National. Songwriters still tend to have a deep appreciation for Molina’s words. Early this year, Kevin Morby and Waxahatchee released covers of a pair of Molina classics, “Farewell Transmission” and “The Dark Don’t Hide It,” the latter of which Molina played at this very Daytrotter session in 2009. Musicians like Amanda Shires and Jason Isbell cover Molina during their encores. A team of musicians including Strand of Oaks’ Timothy Showalter toured as Songs: Molina, A Memorial Electric Co., bringing Molina’s music to the U.S. and Europe. His music lives on.
On this day in 2009, just a few months after releasing studio album Josephine, Jason Molina stopped by the Daytrotter studios. With his band, he performed songs like “Little Sad Eyes,” “Trouble In Mind” and “Devil Wings.” You can listen to the entire session below.
Molina had the ability to harness human emotion with words in a way few other songwriters this century have mastered. He didn’t sugar coat anything. He aired life’s messiest moments. Daytrotter’s Sean Moeller said it best in this session’s accompanying liner notes:
He shapes the plights of the common man with graceful gentility and care, showing them to be intricate beings with the as complex of troubles and emotions as anyone. It’s as if we’re hearing songs that were written in Nashville in the 50s and 60s, digging into the saddest aspects of love and life that any man would ever have the privilege of dealing with, though he smothers them not with aw shucks humor or faux defiance – as if some effort was being made to defray the pain and sorrow by spinning the story to seem more like a blessing or a valuable lesson learned by a young, foolish hayseed – but with real, salt in the wounds, dirt in the eye rub. It hurts and it hurts really bad.
Again, you can listen to Magnolia Electric Co.’s 2009 Daytrotter session below. While you’re here, revisit our list of the best Jason Molina songs.