The Fall of the (Star) Highschool Running Back

11 Oct

When you’re young and exciting and your head is open and so full of ideas that you have to keep running around to stop them all spilling out there’s a point in time where a song finds you and it grabs you and it makes you sit right the fuck down and listen to it from start to finish. Once it happens you have to shake your head a little like a cartoon duck and remember what your name is and how everything is supposed to work.  If it works, it sticks with you forever, it becomes part of your being and you can’t really remember ever not knowing the song. It’s just something that happened in some unspecified part of your memory, and that’s where it’ll stay. For me, No Children is that song.

There are many bands people refer to as having a cult surrounding them, but The Mountain Goats are the only band I’ve seen that live that at times I would honestly compare to a religious experience. Going to a Mountain Goats show feels less like seeing a band than visiting an old friend, and when everybody sings along its like 200 people telling the same wild story with 200 endings.  The above video is of a gig I went to with about 8 of my friends, and the entire show we stood right at the front clapping and yelling and singing along (I’m pretty such that’s me obnoxiously yelling “YEAH!” at 0.38)- and there was so much happiness in that room, John would look at people in the audience and smile and when people screamed the lyrics with him he had a maniacal grin the entire time.

At the end of the show we waited for him to come out and when he did both John and the bassist Peter Hughes signed my tour poster, and then John Darnielle uttered the words which would become famous in every recollection of this story ‘if either of you have a smoke I could really use one’. The following 30 seconds were the one time in my life I have truly  committed to running as we tore from the corner stage to the cigarette machine and back to take him up on the offer. So we went out the back and we smoked and we talked and then we went home- and for the rest of that night we were heroes.

The reason I’m telling you all this is that maybe it hasn’t happened to you yet, or maybe it has and you’re one of the good ones who’re still alive enough to let it happen again. If you haven’t heard The Mountain Goats before I strongly encourage you to watch the two videos I’ve posted and then do a bit of youtubing. With any luck you’ll be pleasantly surprised.


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