You know, talking about the current state of indie rock can be like a turd staring back at its own reflection, but as somebody that has been around for a while, I can honestly say that some of my favorite musicians are my friends. Truly.
I’ve known Jason Molina (of Songs:Ohia and Magnolia Electric Company fame) so long I can barely remember how I met him. I vividly remember helping him set up shows while he was on the road back in the late 90’s. While he was calling me on a pay phone. From Texas. Collect. And sure, he was always a bit weird, but JMo quickly became a friend.
The funny thing to keep in mind is how he’d beg me to never let up making fun of him in Chunklet or when he performed on stage. Amidst his songs of solipsism and ghosts, I always thought to myself how human he always wanted to be. Much like his country heroes, Jason had demons. And his demons caught up with him.
About two years ago, the phone calls started. Odd, disjointed phone calls. The kinds of phone calls where I’d remind myself to get a tape recorder to document the weirdness. Calls from Jason (who was living in London at the time) would wander aimlessly. The kinds of phone calls where you’d say to yourself "Is this a prank?" or "Is he okay?"
A tour with Will Johnson was scrubbed and then….
About a year ago, it became abundantly aware to me what was going on. Jason is an addict.
It weighed heavy on me. I’d call his bandmates and mutual friends to get to the bottom of "what’s up with Jason." It appears that his drinking had caught up with him in monumental fashion. Rehab in England. Getting arrested. Drinking. Being flown back to the states by friends in Chicago so they could keep an eye on him.
It was then (about six months ago) that the calls from Jason became…..just…..desperate. Without knowing that he was even in Chicago (he was still using his UK phone), I’d get disjointed calls. He’d sing new songs to me. He’d cry. He’d pass out. He’d laugh. He’d remember some stupid random story about us singing a song together on stage in Virginia. More crying. Dead air. Drifting. And again, this wasn’t the JMo I knew. It bothered me then as it does now.
However, with respect to Jason, I didn’t make a public spectacle of it. It was Jason’s personal life, and I decided it best to honor his privacy. But this last week I checked the Magnolia Electric web site and realized that a (quasi) press release about Jason’s condition has been public for the last couple of months. But really, I still don’t think people know. And well, I just would hate to idly sit while Jason drinks himself into a coffin. So here I am rambling about my pal JMo on a Saturday night.
Jason is sick. Apart from being an insanely talented and prolific musician, he’s truly a good guy. However, he’s got a problem with alcohol. And it’s destroying him.
Without boring you with the sordid details of his past few months, he’s at (yet another) rehab clinic. He’s now being attended to by family in West Virginia and is hopefully on the mend. Let’s hope. Or pray. Or whatever.
Please click on this link to read the Molina family’s press release (along with a Paypal link to donate $$$$). I know many outside the US will read this and fail to understand the fucked nature of the American health system, but he’s got to pay out of his pocket to get better. So there it is. He needs money.
So I’ll leave it at this. Jason Molina is not well. However, you could assist in his recovery.
I hope this helps.