Monday, 10AM. Not the time you expect to get a telephone call from an old friend. But sadly, I’m accustomed to it. Far too much.
On Saturday night, March 16, 2013, Jason Molina, the songwriting force behind Songs:Ohia and Magnolia Electric Company died from a body that had been drowned in alcohol for years on end. He was far too young to die and his friends and fans have experienced a massive loss. Jason was 39.
I first met Jason back in the 90’s when touring musicians would book shows on a pay phone while on the road. Jason was having difficulty booking a show in Athens (I was living in Atlanta by this time) and I arranged him to have a show at a tiny bar on College Ave. That was 1998. After that, we became quick friends. He toured the South routinely and would stay at Chunklet HQ and we’d trade quirky stories and laugh our asses off.
Jason was great by himself, but once he had the touring entourage that became Magnolia Electric Company, he really shined brightly. Maybe too brightly.
What many of us were slow to find out is that Molina had a pretty significant drinking problem. This disease, which snuffed out his life, controlled Jason for most of the last decade.
What made Jason so endearing was his lack of pretense. For as intense as he wrote, he was a goofball. But maybe, just maybe, his music was alluding to what was fighting inside him. The demons. The ghosts. The pain. The disease.
I get it. And, sadly, I get it all too well.
Jason Molina by Wes Frazer
About a year and a half ago, I wrote an impassioned plea to Jason’s fans. His estranged wife and bandmates would direct people to the post to better understand what he was going through. As a friend and a fan, I didn’t want to sit passively while he killed himself. Of course, even with all of his friends never leaving his side, he cashed out on Saturday night in Indianapolis with nothing but a cell phone in his pocket. My sincerest condolences go to his family who received the news.
Jason leaves behind him an enviable body of work that will be continually rediscovered because what Jason wrote wasn’t fashion. It was his heart. It was his love. It was his demons. And ultimately, it brought his life to an end.
God’s speed, Jason. God’s speed.
(including a live performance Jason did a block from my house back in ’05.)
Me, JMo and touring bro at Barrie Buck’s, 2005
Jason Molina – live on Newton Ave ’05