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Music / the Mountain Goats

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Clockwise: Jon Wurster, Peter Hughes, Matt Douglas, John Darnielle.
"The most remarkable thing about you standing in the doorway
is that it's you, and that you're standing in the doorway."
— "Going to Georgia", from Zopilote Machine

"Now let us play you another song about people who hate everybody! Thank you!"

An indie rock band based in Durham, North Carolina, and consisting in the main of John Darnielle and his guitar. From 1991 to 2002 the band was notable for its lo-fi recording style, many songs being recorded by Darnielle at home on a department-store boom box, although since Tallahassee he has made more use of proper studio equipment and a wider range of instruments, resulting in something of a Broken Base.

Mountain Goats songs are particularly remarkable for Darnielle's narrative, highly literary lyrical style. Many songs form part of a series, such as the "Songs for..." and "Going to..." series, or make up part of a broader narrative, such as the 'Alpha' cycle. Albums are often built around a single theme, such as The Life of the World to Come's obvious Biblical motif.

You can vote for the best songs here.

  • Albums
    • The Hound Chronicles (1992)
    • Hot Garden Stomp (1993)
    • Zopilote Machine (1994)
    • Sweden (1995)
    • Hail and Farewell, Gothenburg (1996)note 
    • Nothing for Juice (1996)
    • Full Force Galesburg (1997)
    • The Coroner's Gambit (2000)
    • All Hail West Texas (2002)
    • Tallahassee (2002)
    • We Shall All Be Healed (2004)
    • The Sunset Tree (2005)
    • Get Lonely (2006)
    • Heretic Pride (2008)
    • The Life of the World to Come (2009)
    • All Eternals Deck (2011)
    • Transcendental Youth (2012)
    • Beat The Champ (2015)
    • Goths (2017)
    • In League with Dragons (2019)
    • Songs For Pierre Chuvin (2020)
    • Getting Into Knives (2020)
    • Dark In Here (2021)
    • Bleed Out (2022)
    • Jenny from Thebes (2023)
  • EPs
    • Taboo VI: The Homecoming (1991)
    • Songs for Petronius (1992)
    • Transmissions to Horace (1993)
    • Chile de Árbol (1993)
    • Taking the Dative (1994)
    • Yam, the King of Crops (1994)
    • Beautiful Rat Sunset (1994)
    • Philyra (1994)
    • Songs for Peter Hughes (1995)
    • Songs About Fire (1995)
    • Nine Black Poppies (1995)
    • New Asian Cinema (1998)
    • Isopanisad Radio Hour (1998)
    • On Juhu Beach (2001)
    • Devil in the Shortwave (2002)
    • Jam Eater Blues (2002)
    • See America Right (2002)
    • Dilaudid EP (2005)
    • Babylon Springs EP (2006)
    • Satanic Messiah (2008)
  • Demos
    • Come, Come to the Sunset Tree (2005)
    • Heretic Pride Demos (2008)
    • The Life of the World in Flux (2009)
    • All Survivors Pack (2011)
  • Compilations
    • Protein Source of the Future...Now! (1999) note 
    • Bitter Melon Farm (1999) note 
    • Ghana (1999) note 
    • The Hound Chronicles/Hot Garden Stomp (2012) note 
  • Collaborations
    • Why You All So Theif? - with Simon Joyner (1994)
    • Orange Raza, Blood Royal - with Alastair Galbraith (1995)
    • Tropical Depression EP - with Furniture Huschle (1997)
    • Bedside Recordings Vol. 1.2 - with John Vanderslice (2003)
    • Black Pair Tree EP - with Kaki King (2008)
    • Moon Colony Bloodbath - with John Vanderslice (2009)

They and Their Work Provide Examples of These Tropes:

  • Abusive Parents: The (autobiographical) theme of The Sunset Tree.
    • Played at its most soul-shattering in the rarely performed "Song for my Stepfather".
    you can go ahead and hit him
    he feels no pain at all
    you erase me
    you erase me
  • The Alcoholic: Both of the Alpha Couple.
  • all lowercase letters: For a long time, "the Mountain Goats" was the only acceptable rendering.
  • Ambiguously Evil: The narrator's pursuer in "To the Headless Horseman".
    God keep the bounty hunter who shows mercy to his prey
    I rode past you on the road again today
    And as you approached, I could sense the threat
    But a stranger's just a friend who hasn't shared their secrets yet
  • Angry Mob Song:
    • Inverted by "If You See Light," where the narrator is hiding from a mob.
    • Also inverted in "Heretic Pride," in which the narrator is being killed by an angry mob.
  • Anti-Love Song:
    • Any song concerning the Alpha Couple.
    • Plus the laughably bad Anti-Music Song.
    • Subverted, or at least played with, in Alpha Incipiens.
    • Plus many, many other examples.
  • Artistic License – History: The song "Anglo-Saxons" conflates the Anglo-Saxons and the Picts to the point of claiming they painted their bodies blue. John Darnielle later admitted he was just trying to make up catchy lyrics and "Anglo-Saxon" sounded better than "Picts" in the metre of the song.
  • As the Good Book Says...: Even before 2009's Bible-based The Life of the World to Come, lyrics and song titles made frequent allusions and references to Scripture (along with holy texts and concepts of other religions).
  • The Atoner: Subverted in "Prowl Great Cain". The narrator feels all the guilt of his betrayals and sins but is not stopped by them in the least.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other:
    • Subverted in "Oceanographer's Choice". The Alpha Couple's reconciliation is an example of their dangerous codependency and is one of the most violent songs in the series.
    • Played somewhat straight in "Old College Try".
    • Used with a heavy dose of nostalgia for the dysfunction of the Alpha Couple's ended relationship in Design Your Own Container Garden.
  • Audience Participation: John frequently solicits requests from the audience.
  • Audience Participation Song:
    • "No Children"
    I hope we ALL die!
    • "Hand Ball"
    • "Carmen Cicero"
    • "Terror Song"
    • "The Best Ever Death Metal Band In Denton" always ends with the audience singing along to the "Hail Satan!" outro.
  • Auto Erotica: "New Chevrolet in Flames" and "So Desperate"
  • Badass Boast: "Werewolf Gimmick" is a particularly frighting example.
    Bring your heroes to the wolf-den
    Watch them all get crushed!
    • "Ox Baker Triumphant" describes exactly how Pro Wrestler Ox Baker is going to exact violent revenge on an entire town.
    • "Dark in Here" describes how the narrator, tired of running from his enemies, is now lying in wait, ready to end this once and for all by either killing them or being killed.
    It's high noon somewhere
    It's dark in here.
  • Becoming the Mask: The narrator of "Werewolf Gimmick" seems to have forgotten the "gimmick" part.
  • Berserk Button: For pretty genial values of "berserk." Still, don't ask for "Golden Boy," and don't mention Hail and Farewell, Gothenburg.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • The Sunset Tree closes with "Pale Green Things", which examines ambivalent memories of the album's antagonist.
    • We Shall All Be Healed ends with "Quito" and "The Pigs That Ran Straightaway into the Water, Triumph Of". The former is about a speed freak planning out how everything's going to be better as soon as his luck changes while the latter is about victory over addiction, but both account for the many who were not as lucky.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Done brutally at the end of "Seed Song":
    And I know you're waiting for the ironic ending
    And I know you're waiting for the punchline
    And I know you're waiting for the rain to come by
    So am I
  • Break-Up Song: Some of the most cathartic ever written.
    • Take "Baboon:"
    I'd be grateful my children aren't here to see this
    Had you ever seen fit to give me children.
    • "Woke Up New" is a soft-voiced, intimate examination of the immediate aftermath:
    On the morning when I woke up without you for the first time
    I felt free and I felt lonely and I felt scared
    And I began to talk to myself almost immediately
    Not being used to being the only person there
    • Examples from the Alpha Couple series include "No Children," "Alpha Omega," & "Design Your Own Container Garden."
  • Calling the Old Man Out: "Lion's Teeth."
  • Careful with That Axe: Peter Hughes's howl at the end of live performances of "See America Right."
  • Character Title
  • Christianity is Catholic: Understandably, as John was raised Catholic.
  • Concept Album:
    • Sweden
    • All Hail West Texas
    • Tallahassee - all songs about the Alpha Couple.
    • We Shall All Be Healed - about the people he knew during his teenage years as a meth addict.
    • The Sunset Tree - inspired by the memory of his abusive stepfather.
    • The Life of the World to Come - all the songs are inspired by their namesake Bible verses.
    • Beat The Champ - wrestling.
    • Goths - what do you think?
    • In League With Dragons - Dungeons & Dragons and the fantasy genre generally.
    • Averted with Getting Into Knives, as this AllMusic review noted:
    "Let's get the first big question out of the way: No, Getting into Knives is not a concept album about knives."
    • John Darnielle with John Vanderslice's "Moon Colony Bloodbath:"
    Moon Colony Bloodbath: Some of the songs have something to do with a loose rock opera/'concept album' idea about organ harvesting colonies on the moon and the employees thereof, who spent their off months living in secluded opulence in remote American locations. Concepts like this are actually more fun when you abandon them but leave their traces kicking around, so that’s what we did.
    • Bleed Out was inspired by watching too many Seventies crime and thriller movies, and every song is about violence, killers, revenge, assassins, thieves and criminals.
  • The Cover Changes the Gender:
    • His cover of "One Fine Day" swaps the line"One fine day, you're gonna want me for your girl!" to "...your own".
    • Subverted throughout Tallahassee and the rest of the Alpha Couple series.
  • Cover Version:
    • Nothing Painted Blue's "Houseguest" is a much beloved and much played cover, at least until 2012.
    • "The Sign" by Ace of Base. John legitimately loved the song, and loved to perform it, but stopped because he believed his audience thought he was covering it ironically.
    • "You're So Vain" by Carly Simon, on the officially unreleased yet illegally leaked album Hail and Farewell, Gothenburg.
  • Culturally Religious: Though in practice he's a spiritual agnostic, Darnielle considers himself "culturally Catholic." This changed in 2016 when he announced his conversion to Christianty.
  • Departmentof Redundancy Department: Frequently invoked by John when introducing songs.
  • Destructo-Nookie: "Oceanographer's Choice:"
    And then we fell down
    And we locked arms
    We knocked the dresser over as we rolled across the floor...
  • The Determinator:
    • "Up the Wolves"
    • "Alpha Desperation March"
    • "Damn These Vampires"
    • "Sax Rohmer #1"
    • "This Year"
  • Determined Defeatist: "Old College Try" is about pursuing love while still soberly aware of just how dysfunctional and catastrophic it can be.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: "Alpha Omega" reveals that the Alpha Couple never work out their issues and separate.
  • Digital Piracy Is Evil: Averted... kind of. John disapproves of early leaks on artistic grounds, but happily acknowledges that Napster brought the Mountain Goats to a much broader audience. He allows bootlegs to be posted on, but would personally prefer live shows to be kept between him and the audience.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The Ax-Crazy, Lost in Character narrator of “Werewolf Gimmick” gets asked to tone it down a bit, so he murders everyone in the arena.
  • Don't Come A-Knockin': The fogged windows in "So Desperate."
  • Downer Ending: At the end of "Alpha Rat's Nest", the Alpha Couple get drunk and burn their house down, killing themselves.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • At the end of Get Lonely, the narrator of "In Corolla" walks into the Atlantic Ocean.
    • "Going to Georgia" is about a man who was about to kill himself over unrequited love, only for the woman he was in love with to stop him.
  • Drowning My Sorrows:
    • "You're in Maya"
    • "Gameshows Touch Our Lives"
  • Drugs Are Bad: We Shall All Be Healed doesn't make (meth)amphetamines sound very appealing.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: We Shall All Be Healed makes it clear that the protagonist's eventual triumph over addiction was a Pyrrhic victory.
  • The Eleven O'Clock Number:
    • "Oceanographer's Choice" on Tallahassee
    • "Love, Love, Love" on The Sunset Tree
    • "Going to Georgia" on Zopilote Machine
  • Evolving Music
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The lyrics of "Training Montage" consists of the internal monologue of a movie's hero during their training montage.
  • Extreme Mêlée Revenge: In "Alpha Desperation March" and "Orange Ball of Peace" - after one member of the Alpha Couple leaves, the other tries to hurt the one that left and take eight thousand dollars from them in the former song, and sets their house on fire in the latter.
  • Eye Scream: During the chorus of "Foreign Object:"
    I'm gonna jab you in the eye, with a foreign object
    I will personally stab you in the eye with a foreign object.
  • Face–Heel Turn: "Heel Turn 2" (literally, since it's from Beat the Champ).
  • Failure Is the Only Option: The moral of "Andrew Eldritch is Moving Back to Leeds":
    See the kids all bound for London - You'll all be back too
    Everybody tests the membrane, but no one pushes through
  • Former Child Star: Seems to be a fascination of John Darnielle:
    • "Song for Dana Plato"
    • "The Autopsy Garland"
    • "Tyler Lambert's Grave"
    • "Harlem Roulette"
  • Freudian Excuse: "Pseudothyrum Song:"
    I think someone was mean to you when you were little, that's what I think.
  • God Is Good: The chronically ill narrators of "Romans 10:9" and "Isaiah 45:23" maintain their faith in God and trust that they will be delivered from their suffering.
  • God Is Evil: In "Supergenesis" the banished snake in the Garden of Eden is motivated by his perceived mistreatment at the hands of God.
  • Grief Song:
    • "Matthew 25:21"
    • "Shadow Song"
    • "Mole"
    • "Your Belgian Things"
    • "Cobscook Bay"
    • "Philippians 2:20-21"
  • Happily Married: Don't let the endless list of angsty songs fool you.
  • Have You Seen My God?: Averted on The Life of the World to Come, where even the most depraved and dejected characters are seeking connection with (some idea of) God.
  • How Dare You Die on Me!: "Insurance Fraud #2"
  • Hostage Situation: "Cut Off Their Thumbs #1"
  • Human Popsicle: Featured on Moon Colony Bloodbath particularly "Emerging".
  • Human Resources: The plot of Moon Colony Bloodbath
  • I Am a Monster: "Neon Orange Glimmer Song"
  • "I Am" Song: "Hand Ball:"
    I am the dry meat that fills the mouth.
    I am the fire that burns without wood.
    I am Evil Forest.
    Kill a man on the day that his life seems sweetest to him.
  • I Am the Band: John Darnielle is the only constant in the lineup of the Mountain Goats - even when touring alone, he still tours as "the Mountain Goats", plural. However, drummer Jon Wurster and bassist Peter Hughes have been with the band for over a decade and nearly two, respectively, playing on every album and most tours.
  • Iconic Item: The boombox. In 1989, John bought a Panasonic RX-FT500 for $89 dollars from Circuit City, and recorded on it for the next twelve years. The microphone is between the tape decks, so the sound of the tape gears and the middling quality of the mic became an iconic part of the Mountain Goats' sound. When he dug it out of storage to record Songs for Pierre Chuvin in 2020, he found the gear noise had become so loud, he had to stand it on its end to quieten it.
  • Iconic Song Request:
    • "No Children"
    • "Going to Georgia"
    • "Best Ever Death Metal Band"
    • "GOLDEN BOY!!!!"
  • I Did What I Had to Do: "Against Pollution"
  • Intercourse with You: "I've Got the Sex"
  • Interrupted Suicide: "Going to Georgia"
    And you smiled as you eased the gun from my hand
    And I am frozen with joy right where I stand
  • It's Not You, It's Me: The protagonist of "Omega Blaster" seems remorseful and apologetic to the point of point of self-hatred as he leaves his significant other after an implied affair.
  • Kung-Shui: The Alpha couple in "Oceanographer's Choice" trashes a room fighting — and then destroys it when they start having sex.
  • Lampshade Hanging: The narrator of "Going to Dade County" is perfectly aware that you think he's making the story up.
  • Last of His Kind: "Deuteronomy 2:10" is about the Last Tasmanian Tiger, the Last Dodo, and the Last Golden Toad.
    No brothers left, and there'll be no more after me.
  • Literary Allusion Title
  • Lonely Piano Piece:
    • "1 John 4:16"
    • "Deuteronomy 2:10"
    • The piano version of "Steal Smoked Fish"
  • Lonely Together: "Dinu Lipatti's Bones" demonstrates how dark this trope can be.
  • Lost Episode:
    • Dissatisfied with the way Hail and Farewell, Gothenburg turned out, John never released it — and was less than pleased when it turned up online a few years later.
    • More recently, the West Texas Orphans EP was cancelled and the master tapes destroyed because of non-stop demands for pirated versions of Moon Colony Bloodbath on the band's own forum. This is why we can't have nice things.
  • Lost in Character: The main character of "Werewolf Gimmick", who talks as if he is his character and tears apart his opponent for real.
  • Lyrical Dissonance:
    • "No Children" is a jaunty song about being trapped in an abusive (or at least, loveless) marriage.
    • The bouncy "Dance Music" starts with the narrator running away from his stepfather, who's throwing a glass at his mother.
    • "Cry For Judas" features upbeat trumpets and jangly guitars over lyrics about how trauma breaks people and will never fully leave them.
    • See also "Foreign Object," the happiest-sounding song about stabbing someone you will probably ever hear.
    • "Getting Into Knives" is a soft ballad about how the narrator has, after thirty years obsessively seeking vengeance, decided to change his ways by...switching up the kind of weapon he's going to use to get vengeance.
    • "Hostages" is an upbeat, happy song about a hostage situation that's set to end very, very badly for most if not all of the people involved. The narrator, one of the hostage-takers, seems pretty cheerful about this.
  • Lyrical Tic: "Yeah!"
  • The Masochism Tango: The Alpha Couple are the epitome of this trope. John once said they only stay together because they hate each other so much they both stay to watch the other suffer their company.
  • Messy Hair: The less said about his Get Lonely-era hair, the better (YMMV).
  • Murder Ballad:
    • "Ezekiel 7 and the Permanent Efficacy of Grace"
    • "Against Pollution", though it's in self-defense.
    • No murders occur during "Cut off Their Thumbs", but the narrator makes it clear he's not letting anybody leave alive.
  • Music for Courage:
    • "Dance Music"
    • "Hast Thou Considered The Tetrapod" on The Sunset Tree:
    Held under these smothering waves by your strong and thick-veined hand
    But one of these days, I'm gonna wriggle up on dry land
    • "Sax Rohmer Pt. 1:"
    I am coming home to you
    If it's the last thing that I do
    • This is a fairly common real-life use of "This Year", particularly around New Year's Day, due to its refrain:
    I am gonna make it through this year if it kills me
  • My God, What Have I Done?: "Neon Orange Glimmer Song"
  • Never Speak Ill of the Dead: Subverted by The Sunset Tree, which chronicles in uncomfortable detail the abuse John suffered at the hands of his stepfather.
  • New Sound Album:
    • Tallahassee left behind the lo-fi presentation of his earliest albums in favour of cleaner production and a full-band approach.
    • Goths gave his sound another shake-up, eschewing guitars completely (aside from bass) in favour of piano, keyboard and (on "Shelved", the first song written by another band member) even synths.
    • Songs For Pierre Chuvin was an Old Sound Album, in which Darnielle returned to the style of his very first albums, recording a whole album on an old boombox while stuck at home due to the pandemic.
  • No Accounting for Taste: The Alpha Couple shares a love of alcohol and self-hatred and that is about all that keeps them together.
  • Non-Appearing Title: More often than not, really.
  • Ode to Intoxication:
    • Plenty on The Sunset Tree
    • "You're in Maya"
    • Much of Tallahassee
  • The Oner:
    • The video for "Ezekiel 7 and the Permanent Efficacy of Grace"
    • The entirety of the film version of "The Life Of The World To Come", which features Darnielle playing songs from the album in an empty auditorium, directed by Rian Johnson.
  • The Perfect Crime: "Insurance Fraud #2." Or is it...
  • Perspective Flip: "Thank You Mario, But Our Princess Is in Another Castle" is from the point of view of Toad, waiting to be rescued.
  • Power Fantasy: "Lion's Teeth," a revenge fantasy.
  • Precision F-Strike: The albums are pretty clean, but live versions have been known to get punched up from time to time.
  • Protest Song:
    • "Down to the Ark" characterizes the primary voting process in the United States as a Satanic ritual. Yes, really.
    • "Fall of the Star High School Running Back" protests Texas' justice system because it gives seventeen-year-olds federal time.
  • Pyromaniac: "Psalms 40:2" is about an arsonist realizing his actions are his only meaningful connection to God.
  • Rearrange the Song:
    • Now that John has a regular backing band, a lot of the earlier acoustic-and-voice stuff gets reinterpreted with a rhythm section.
    • The cello-only "Dilaudid" becomes a three-piece rocker live.
    • Despite the original frenetic recording, the slow version of "Alpha Omega" seems to be the canonical one.
  • Sanity Slippage Song:
    • "Wild Sage" is a breakup song between a guy and his mind.
    • "Lovecraft in Brooklyn" is about a guy who's absolutely convinced that something horrible is about to happen to him and everyone else, possibly at the hands of eldritch monstrosities.
    • "In the Craters on the Moon"
  • Satan:
    • The serpent in the Garden of Eden mourns his lot in "Supergenesis." While both "How To Embrace A Swamp Creature" and "Cobra Tattoo" relate the protagonists to the same serpent.
    • "The Best Ever Death Metal Band Out of Denton:"
  • Satanic Panic: "The Best Ever Death Metal Band Out Of Denton" is about a pair of death metal enthusiasts in their conservative Bible Belt who are separated and institutionalized for their supposed Devil worship. This inspires them to actually summon the Devil for real to get revenge on people who wronged them.
  • Sham Supernatural: "Werewolf Gimmick" is sung from the perspective of a professional wrestler whose persona's gimmick is that he's a werewolf. As the song goes on though, it becomes clear that the wrestler has become increasingly unable to distinguish between his real life and his persona, and actually believes that he's a werewolf.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The chorus of "Enoch 18:14" is cutscene dialogue from Odin Sphere.
    • "The Fall of the Star High School Running Back" gives one to the Notorious B.I.G.
  • Shower of Angst: "Maybe Sprout Wings", "Shower".
  • Shown Their Work: The Bible verses cited in the titles of the songs on The Life of the World to Come.
  • Silly Love Songs: Subverted rather amusingly in "Stars Fell on Alabama".
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Some songs involving the Alpha couple you can't quite tell whether the lyrics are describing them trying to kill each other, or having a vicious love session, or both. Seen most notably in "Oceanographer's Choice".
  • Something Blues:
    • "Dutch Orchestra Blues"
    • "International Small Arms Traffic Blues"
    • "Jam Eater Blues"
    • "Jeff Davis County Blues"
    • "New World Emerging Blues"
    • "Transjordanian Blues"
  • Song of Song Titles: The verses of "Get High and Listen to the Cure" consist mainly of song titles by—yesThe Cure.
  • Spoken Word in Music:
    • Some of the older songs like "Prana Ferox" and "Going to Bolivia" include recordings at the beginning of people speaking.
    • "Seeing Daylight" is almost entirely spoken word.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Darnielle admits he leaned on this trope pretty heavily in his youth, but now actively avoids it.
    • Inverted with "Distant Stations" which John describes to be about a would-be stalker who never actually gets the nerve to venture very far.
    • Played straight with songs like "The Garden Song" and "Standard Bitter Love Song #8"
  • Stealth Pun: Possibly an unintentional example, but "Orange Ball of Peace" works equally well if you hear the chorus as, "I'm a fireman" or "I'm a fire, man".
  • Stop and Go: "See America Right."
  • Subdued Section: "In the Craters on the Moon."
  • Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion: From "The Cow Song:"
    Bang, pow! Look at me now
    Don't let the cows stray off too far
    Come down, take a good look around
    See how the cows start to shine like light bulbs
  • Suicide by Sea: "In Corolla".
  • Sympathy for the Devil: The Sunset Tree and a fair amount of other songs paint John's stepfather as quite the asshole, to say the least. Said album concludes with "Pale Green Leaves", which about John hearing that he passed away. The song purposefully is written to have many mixed feelings over the news, but it is clear that some part of him pities the man his stepfather was in the end.
  • Textless Album Cover: Averted a lot in the pre-4AD era.
  • The Power of Rock: "The best ever death metal band out of Denton will, in time, both outpace and outlive you. HAIL SATAN!"
  • The "The" Title Confusion: See all lowercase letters.
  • Three Chords and the Truth: Lampshaped in "You Were Cool:"
    These are the same four chords
    I use most of the time
    When I've got something on my mind
  • Title Track:
    • "Tallahassee"
    • "Transcendental Youth"
    • "The Hot Garden Stomp"
    • "The Coroner's Gambit"
    • "Get Lonely"
    • "Heretic Pride"
    • "Nine Black Poppies"
    • "Yam, the King of Crops"
    • "Jam Eaters Blues"
    • "Dark in Here"
  • Tranquil Fury: "Ox Baker Triumphant"
  • The Something Song: Buckle up, there are a few:
    • "Anti-Music Song"
    • "The Black Ice Cream Song"
    • "California Song"
    • "Chinese Rifle Song"
    • "Island Garden Song"
    • "The Monkey Song"
    • "Neon Orange Glimmer Song"
    • "Pseudothyrum Song"
    • "Shadow Song"
    • "Song for an Old Friend"
    • "Stable Boy Song"
    • "Standard Bitter Love Song" No.s 1 through 8
    • "Song for Cleomenes"
    • "Song for Dana Plato"
    • "Song for Dennis Brown"
    • "Song for Lonely Giants"
    • "Song for Sasha Banks"
    • "Song for My Stepfather"
    • "Song for the Julian Calendar"
    • "Song for Tura Santana"
    • "Song for Greg Valentine"
  • Uncertain Doom: The Tallahassee album brought the saga of the Alpha Couple to a close, with the last song, "Alpha Rats Nest," describing their house burning down. However, it's left ambiguous whether one or both members of the couple perish in the fire. Regardless, Darnielle has stated there will be no more Alpha Couple songs, so their fate is left forever unknown.
  • Visual Pun: A few in the music video for "Sax Rohmer #1", which is largely based on the camera panning around walls in which the song's lyrics are written. For the line "dawn goes down today", for example, the camera literally follows the words "dawn goes down to" down to a spot where "day" is written.
  • What You Are in the Dark: In a much more bleaker sense than normal, "New World Emerging Blues."
    And we are gonna see each other the way we truly are
  • When All You Have Is a Hammer…: Appropriately, the unreleased "Song for Greg Valentine" pays homage to a guy who was not only nicknamed "the Hammer" but had a very singular in-ring methodology:
    When they get me in a corner, break legs
    When I feel alone and useless, break legs
    If I can't claim victory, I'm taking you down with me
    Break legs, break legs, break legs
  • With Friends Like These...: Referred to in "Game Shows Touch Our Lives:"
    They say that friends don't destroy one another
    What do they know about friends?
  • Word Salad Lyrics: Averted.
  • Pro Wrestling Episode: "Beat The Champ" is a rare musical example, with all the songs having something to do with wrestling.
    • There's also the earlier song "Ox Baker Triumphant" and the later "Song for Sasha Banks", both of which are about the respective titular pro wrestlers.