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Tear Jerker / the Mountain Goats

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Unsurprisingly with an entire album dedicated to John's stepfather, there's plenty of the Mountain Goats that are more bitter than sweet.


  • "Song for My Stepfather:"
    He feels no pain at all
    You erase me
    You erase me
    • And:
    " You have got that look in your eye
    in the pinprick point where kindness goes to die
    I'll be six years old next year..."
  • "Baboon:"
    I'd be grateful my children aren't here to see this
    If you'd ever seen fit to give me children.
  • "No Children," easily one of the most shamelessly negative songs ever written. It's not good to be addicted to a song with lyrics as bleak as:
    I am drowning
    There is no sight of land
    You are going down with me
    Hand in unlovable hand
    • And its chorus:
    I hope you die
    I hope we both die
    • The fact that the song was used in an episode of Moral Orel should speak wonders alone.
  • For anyone who has ever had a dream that didn't fit their community, "The Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton" can be pretty poignant, especially the following lines:
    This was how Cyrus got sent to the school
    Where they told him he'd never be famous
  • Pretty much the entirety of The Sunset Tree, an album detailing John's relationship with his stepfather.
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    • One of the most painful songs would have to be "Hast Thou Considered the Tetrapod?"
    And then I'm awake and I'm guarding my face
    Hoping you don't break my stereo
    Because it's the one thing that I couldn't live without
    And so I think about that, and then I sort of black out
    Held under these smothering waves, by your strong and thick-veined hand
  • "The Mess Inside" in its entirety will hit anyone close to home who's gone through a mutual fading of affection at the end of a relationship.
    Found that bench we sat together on a thousand years ago
    When I felt such love for you I thought my heart was gonna pop.
    I wanted you to love me like you used to do.
  • "Harlem Roulette" is about the last days of Frankie Lymon's life - he was a child star who had success in a band but failed as a solo artist, got drafted, and by the time he got back, his voice had changed. Addicted to heroin since age 15 but clean since the army, he recorded a couple more songs, and finally was about to become succesful. Said songs gave him enough money to celebrate with heroine, which he overdosed on. This line is particularly heartbreaking:
    Armies masking in the dusky distance
    Ghosted ribbon in the microphone
    Leave a little mark on something, maybe
    Take the secret circuit home
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  • "Omega Blaster", about the wife of the Alpha Couple leaving the husband.
  • "Cotton":
    This song is for the soil
    That's toxic clear down to the bedrock
    Where no thing of consequence can grow
    Drop your seeds there, let them go
    Let them all go...
  • "Weekend in Western Illinois" is just so passionate. Yeah, we love these dogs...
  • "Deuteronomy 2:10" is a heartbreaking song told through the perspective of extinct animals:
    I pace in circles
    So the camera will see
    Look hard at my stripes
    There'll be no more after me
  • "Heel Turn 2" is about the narrator doing exactly what the title suggests, with various justifications— but the song eventually morphs into a Lonely Piano Piece, suggesting a Downer Ending for the wrestler.
    Let all the trash rain down
    From way up in the rafters
    I'm walking out of here in one piece
    Don't care what comes after
    Drive the wedge
    Torch the bridge
    I don't want to die in here
    I don't want to die in here
    • There is also the heartbreaking delivery of the line "You found my breaking point, congratulations."
  • Bluejays and Cardinals is about John's friend, the late Rozz Williams. Or, to be exact, an emotional song about positive things that happened while Rozz was still alive and how Rozz dying destroyed all that happiness.
    You used to bring something new to each and every day
    Or you used to anyway
    But this world couldn't hold you
    You slipped free
    Yeah this world couldn't hold you
    You slipped free
    Without me
  • "Matthew 25:21", an unashamedly vivid song about the death of a loved one by cancer, in a similar fashion to Sufjan Stevens' "Casimir Pulaski Day".
    I flew in from Pennsylvania
    When I heard the hour was coming fast
    And I docked in Santa Barbara
    Tried to brace myself
    But you can't brace yourself when the time comes
    You just have to roll with the blast
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    • Its third verse:
    And then came to your bedside
    And as it turns out, I'm not ready
    And as though you were speaking through a thick haze
    You said hello to me
    We all stood there around you
    Happy to hear you speak
    The last of something bright burning, still burning
    Beyond the cancer and the chemotherapy
    • And, of course, it has to end with this devastating couplet:
    It's three days later when I get the call
    And there's nobody around to break my fall
  • Despite its upbeat instrumentation, the lyrics for "Cry For Judas" is a reflection on trauma, self-destruction, and betrayal.
    Sad and angry, can't learn how to behave
    Still won't know how in the darkness of the grave
    Long black night, morning frost
    I'm still here, but all is lost
  • "Maybe Sprout Wings" from Get Lonely is a heartwrenching paean to friends John lost to drug addiction, and the pain of slowly forgetting those you've lost.
    Ghosts and clouds and nameless things
    Squint your eyes and hope real hard
    Maybe sprout wings
    • And then, the back half of the second verse:
    The last bits of my dream like figures in the distance, hard to hold
    I thought of old friends, the ones who'd gone missing
    Said all their names three times, phantoms in the early dark
    Canaries in the mines
  • "Unmasked!" is sung from the perspective of a Masked Luchador who is retiring his opponent by unmasking him. It's surprisingly tragic, and plays like an allegory for a man delivering a Mercy Kill to a Friendly Enemy.
    And you don't care
    You look almost relieved down there
    Like you're free
    Like you can breathe now
    Like they've sawn off your cast
    One more sleeper to see through
    And by way of honoring the things we once both held dear
    I will reveal you


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