I’ve fallen in love with a podcast called I Only Listen to The Mountain Goats. It’s one of the only podcasts where I’ve ever gone back and listened to an episode a second time – and I’ve done it for every episode so far.
I Only Listen to The Mountain Goats is a series of conversations between Joseph Fink, the creator of Welcome to Night Vale and Alice Isn’t Dead (two other podcasts I enjoy), and John Darnielle, the singer-songwriter of the band The Mountain Goats.
Ostensibly a discussion about the process of creative work and the tension between being an artist and being a fan, the conversations range over some fascinating terrain. They get deep into the weeds on music theory and technique, as you’d expect, as well as theme, voice and other narrative devices. But they also talk about philosophy, religion, art history, the socio-political landscapes of America, and the consequences of bad life choices.
It’s great, is what I’m saying.
It’s two smart people talking about the stuff that interests them, through the lens of individual songs. The first season of the show – only four main episodes have dropped so far – is going track by track through The Mountain Goats’ 2002 album All Hail West Texas, starting with Track 1: “The Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton”. Each episode discusses the origins, themes and composition of the song, and features both the original and a cover version of the song. The two hosts also talk to the cover artist about their artistic choices and what drew them to the song.
Here’s the thing: before I started listening to this podcast, I had no idea who Darnielle or The Mountain Goats were. I might have heard some of their songs – I hear they’re a pretty popular band – but I wouldn’t have been able to pick them out of a playlist.
Now, I’m working my way voraciously through their back catalogue. I kind of love them. They’re all I’ve been listening to lately.