I caught a partial set by Jason Molina several years ago at Seattle’s Folklife festival. I can’t quite recall the year, nor can I recall the name under which he performed. It could have been Jason Molina, Songs: Ohia, or even Magnolia Electric Co. What I remember of the performance is that out of his minimalist style, he was effortlessly enigmatic in the songs he created.
Somewhere between indie-folk and alt-country, Jason Molina’s music was without a doubt heartfelt and revealing, despite having a sound that was often difficult to describe. The first song I ever heard of his was the stripped-down opener and title track to Songs: Ohia’s 2002 LP, Didn’t It Rain.
Molina is rumored to have ultimately succumbed to health complications resulting from alcoholism over the past weekend, though I’ve also seen the term natural causes thrown about. Despite his ailments, Molina was an artist whose music moved those who heard it. Loved by many, he will be a greatly missed soul.
In a post on the front page of the Secretly Canadian website, the label shares a heartfelt sentiment on the man who helped them get where they are today:
This is especially hard for us to share. Jason is the cornerstone of Secretly Canadian. Without him there would be no us — plain and simple. His singular, stirring body of work is the foundation upon which all else has been constructed. After hearing and falling in love with the mysterious voice on his debut single “Soul” in early 1996, we approached him about releasing a single on our newly formed label. For some reason he said yes. We drove from Indiana to New York to meet him in person, and he handed us what would become the first of many JMo master tapes. And with the Songs: Ohia One Pronunciation of Glory 7″ we were given a voice as a label.
Not since the death in 2009 of the mystical folk-pop artist Jeff Hanson has the death of a musician affected me so much.
Listen to “Heart My Heart” by Molina from his 2012 release Autumn Bird Songs:
Here, too, is a thirty-minute live set of Molina as Magnolia Electric Co. on air at the now defunct WOXY.
But, perhaps more than any other track, the feels really come out in “Let Me Go, Let Me Go, Let Me Go”: