The Mountain Goats

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Tracklist + Lyrics:

  1. Tallahassee

    Window facing an ill-kept front yard
    Plums on the tree heavy with nectar
    Prayers to summon the destroying angel
    Moon stuttering in the sky like a film stuck in a projector

    And you

    Twin prop airplanes passing loudly overhead
    Road to the airport, two lanes clear
    Half the whole town gone for the summer
    Terrible silence coming down here

    And you

    There is no deadline
    There is no schedule
    There is no plan
    We can fall back on

    The road this far can't be retraced
    There is no punchline anybody can tack on
    There are loose ends by the score
    What did I come down here for?


  2. First Few Desperate Hours

    Bad luck comes in from Tampa
    Bad luck comes in from Tampa
    On the back of a truck
    Doing ninety up the interstate

    We have bad dreams the night he rolls in
    We have bad dreams the night he rolls in
    And we try
    To keep our spirits high

    But they flag and they wane
    When the truck pulls up out front in the light spring rain
    And they sag like withering flowers
    Let the good times roll on through these first few desperate hours

    The driver drops his cargo at the curb
    The driver drops his cargo at the curb
    And the sun peeks in
    Like a killer through the curtain

    And when cloven hoof prints turn up in the garden
    Yeah, when cloven hoof prints turn up in the garden
    We keep up the good fight
    We keep our spirits light

    But they drop like flies
    And there's a stomach-churning shift in the way the land lies
    And they lean like towers
    On a hillside, struggling to stand through these first few desperate hours 

  3. Southwood Plantation Road

    I got you
    You've got whatever's left in me to get
    Our conversations are like minefields
    No one's found a safe way through one yet

    I spent a lot of money
    I buy you white gold
    We raise up a little roof
    Against the cold

    On Southwood Plantation Road
    Where at night the stars blow like milk across the sky
    Where the high wires drop
    Where the fat crows fly

    All night long
    You giggle and scream
    Your brown eyes
    Deeper than a dream

    I am not gonna lose you
    We are gonna stay married
    In this house like a Louisiana graveyard
    Where nothing stays buried

    On Southwood Plantation Road
    Where the dead will walk again
    Put on their Sunday best
    And mingle with unsuspecting Christian men

  4. Game Shows Touch Our Lives

    Dug up a fifth of Hood River gin
    That stuff tastes like medicine
    But I'll take it
    It'll do

    On the couch in the living room all day long
    Music on the television playing our song
    And I'm in the mood
    The mood for you

    Turn the volume up real high
    All of that money, look at it fly
    And you smoking
    Like a chimney

    Shadows crawled across the living room's length
    I held onto you with a desperate strength
    With everything
    With everything in me

    And I handed you a drink of the lovely little thing
    On which our survival depends
    People say friends don't destroy one another
    What do they know about friends?

    Thunderclouds forming, cream white moon
    Everything's going to be okay soon
    Maybe tomorrow
    Maybe the next day

    Carried you up the stairs that night
    All of this could be yours if the price is right
    I heard cars headed down to oblivion
    Up on the expressway

    Your drunken kisses, as light as the air
    Maybe everything that falls down eventually rises
    Our house sinking into disrepair
    Ah, but look at this showroom filled with fabulous prizes 

  5. The House That Dripped Blood

    Look beyond the broken bottles
    Past the rotting wooden stairs
    Root out the wine-dark honeyed center
    Not everyone can live like millionaires

    Look through the air-thin walls
    Tear up the floorboards, strip the paint
    Go over every inch of space
    With the patience of a saint

    Grab your hat
    Get your coat
    The cellar door
    Is an open throat

    Look past the kitchen cabinets
    Go through the chest of drawers
    Scrutinize the casements
    Rip the varnish off the doors

    Dig up the laughing photographs
    They're here somewhere or other
    Take what you can carry
    But let me tell you, brother

    Still waters go stagnant
    Bodies bloat
    And the cellar door
    Is an open throat

  6. Idylls of the King

    This place with its old plantations
    These roads leading out to the sea
    This day full of promise and potential
    More clay pigeons for you and me

    All of them, all of them
    All of them, all of them
    All of them, all of them
    All of them, all of them all lined up

    Huge crows loitering by the curb
    Our shared paths unraveling behind us like ribbons
    And I dreamed of vultures in the trees around our house
    And cicadas and locusts and the shrieking of innumerable gibbons

    All of them, all of them
    All of them, all of them
    All of them, all of them
    All of them, all of them all lined up

    How long will we ride this way about?
    How long 'till someone caves under the pressure?
    My dreams are haunted by armies, armies of ghosts
    Faces too blurry to make out, numbers far too high to measure

    Your face like a vision straight of Holly Hobby
    Late light drizzling through your hair
    Your eyes twin volcanoes
    Bad ideas dancing around in there

    All, all of them, all of them
    All of them, all of them
    All of them, all of them
    All of them, all of them all lined up

  7. No Children

    I hope that our few remaining friends
    Give up on trying to save us
    I hope we come up with a fail-safe plot
    To piss off the dumb few that forgave us

    I hope the fences we mended
    Fall down beneath their own weight
    And I hope we hang on past the last exit
    I hope it's already too late

    And I hope the junkyard a few blocks from here
    Someday burns down
    And I hope the rising black smoke carries me far away
    And I never come back to this town again

    In my life, I hope I lie
    And tell everyone you were a good wife
    And I hope you die
    I hope we both die

    I hope I cut myself shaving tomorrow
    I hope it bleeds all day long
    Our friends say it's darkest before the sun rises
    We're pretty sure they're all wrong

    I hope it stays dark forever
    I hope the worst isn't over
    And I hope you blink before I do
    And I hope I never get sober

    And I hope when you think of me years down the line
    You can't find one good thing to say
    And I'd hope that if I found the strength to walk out
    You'd stay the hell out of my way

    I am drowning, there is no sign of land
    You are coming down with me, hand in unlovable hand
    And I hope you die
    I hope we both die

  8. See America Right

    I was driving in from Tampa when the radiator burst
    I was three sheets to the wind, a civilian saw me first
    And then there was the cop and then the children standing on the corner
    Your love is like a cyclone in a swamp and the weather's getting warmer

    I was getting out of jail, headed to the Greyhound
    You said you'd hop on one yourself and meet me on the way down
    I was shaking way too hard to think, dead on my feet, about to drop
    Went and got the case of vodka from the car and walked the two miles to the bus stop

    Got on the bus half-drunk again, the driver glared at me
    Met up with you in Ingles, thumbed a ride to Cedar Key
    If we never make it back to California, I want you to know I love you
    But my love is like a dark cloud full of rain, always right there up above you

  9. Peacocks

    I hear them squeal
    I see them preen
    Fans all spread out
    Neat and clean

    Grab hold of the morning
    Head out to the porch
    Feel the wind stopping
    Feel the sun scorch

    I fear for my safety
    You can see it in my eyes
    In an hour or two
    We will rise

    Then a sharp breeze kicks up
    I hug myself hard
    How come there's peacocks
    In the front yard?

    Sun's all prickly
    On my neck
    When the helicopter passes
    We both hit the deck

    Hands grasping and groping
    Seizing opportunity right where it lies
    The sky will fall
    We will rise 

  10. International Small Arms Traffic Blues

    My love is like a powder keg
    My love is like a powder keg in the corner of an empty warehouse
    Somewhere just outside of town
    About to burn down

    My love is like a Cuban plane
    My love is like a Cuban plane flying from Havana
    Up the Florida coast to the 'Glades
    Soviet made

    Our love is like the border between Greece and Albania
    Our love is like the border between Greece and Albania
    Trucks loaded down with weapons crossing over every night
    Moon yellow and bright

    There is a shortage in the blood supply
    But there is no shortage of blood
    The way I feel about you, baby, can't explain it
    You got the best of my love 

  11. Have To Explode

    Tile floor of the bathroom, scrubbed clean and bright
    Checkerboard white and gray
    Towels from the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Kingston, Jamaica
    I can still see the rust colored stains today

    The stage is set, someone's going to do something someone else will regret
    I speak in smoke signals and you answer in code
    The fuse will have to run out sometime
    Something here will eventually have to explode, have to explode

    You and me lying on the tile floor, trying to keep cool, restless all night
    Sweating out the poison as the temperature climbs
    Staring up, up at the hundred-watt light that burns above
    Name one thing about us two anyone could love

    We roll out the red carpet when rotten luck comes down the road
    Five, four, three, two, one, watch for the flash
    Something here will eventually have to explode
    Have to explode

  12. Old College Try

    From the housetops to the gutters
    From the ocean to the shore
    The warning signs have all been bright and garish
    Far too great in number to ignore

    From the cities to the swamplands
    From the highways to the hills
    Our love has never had a leg to stand on
    From the aspirins to the cross-tops to the Elavils

    But I will walk
    Down to the end with you
    If you will come
    All the way down with me

    From the entrance to the exit
    Is longer than it looks from where we stand
    I want to say I'm sorry for stuff I haven't done yet
    Things will shortly get completely out of hand

    I can feel it in the rotten air tonight
    In the tips of my fingers, in the skin on my face
    In the weak last gasp of the evening's dying light
    In the way those eyes I've always loved illuminate this place

    Like a trashcan fire in a prison cell
    Like the searchlights in the parking lots of hell
    I will walk down to the end with you
    If you will come all the way down with me

  13. Oceanographer's Choice

    Well, guy in a skeleton costume comes up to the guy in the Superman suit
    Runs through him with a broadsword
    I flip the television off, bring all the bright lights up
    Turn the radio up loud

    I don't know why I'm so persuaded
    That if I think things through
    Long enough and hard enough
    I'll somehow get to you

    But then you came in and we locked eyes
    You kicked the ashtray over as we came toward each other
    Stubbed my cigarette out against the west wall
    Quickly lit another

    Look at that, would you look at that?
    We're throwing off sparks
    What will I do when I don't have you
    To hold onto in the dark?

    Yes, everybody's going to need a witness
    Everybody's going to need a little backup in case the scene gets nasty
    You throw the attic window open and I throw myself all around you
    And night comes to Tallahassee

    I don't know why it's gotten harder to keep myself away
    Thought I'd finally beat the feeling back, it all came back today
    And then we fell down and we locked arms, we knocked the dresser over as we rolled across the floor
    I don't mean it when I tell you that I don't love you anymore

    Look at that, would you look at that?
    The way the ceiling starts to swerve
    What will I do when I don't have you?
    When I finally get what I deserve 

  14. Alpha Rats Nest

    Ah, the lengthening hours in the refinery
    Belching fire into the sky
    We do our best vampire routines
    As we suck the dying hours dry

    The night is lovely as a rose
    If I see sunlight hit you
    I am sure that we'll both decompose

    Ah, the fitful sleep and the fire engines
    That I dream of when I dream
    Someday we'll both wake up for good
    I will try hard not to scream

    The evening wind will shake the blinds
    You're stirring from your slumber
    We've got something hateful on our minds

    Oh, sing, sing, sing
    For the dying of the day
    Sing for the flames that will rip through here
    And the smoke that will carry us away

    Yeah, sing for the damage we've done
    And the worse things that we'll do
    Open your mouth up and sing for me now
    And I will sing for you 

Vinyl Details

Not much to say from a technical standpoint. It's a regular black vinyl, but what it lacks in pizzaz it makes up for in really nice sound quality. A side ends at "No Children," which is a solid place to cut it.

Personal Thoughts

When I bought this album, the only track from it I'd heard was "No Children." It was one of those days where I saw it at the record store and really wanted to buy something, so I pulled up the album on spotify and loitered as long as I could making sure I liked the other tracks enough to justify getting it. And it ended up being a great choice! "No Children" is still great, but hearing it in context with the rest of the album makes it even better.

My summary of the album's story is this: you've got two people who got married too quickly and their relationship was too dependent on alcohol. Though they really wanted to make the relationship work, and gilded it with a fancy-looking house and gifts, they go back and forth between desperately clinging and being horrible to each other. It doesn't seem like there's a clear resolution by the end of the album, just a realization that this cycle will keep continuing. (If you have different interpretations of the story, I'd love to hear them on my neocities profile!)

The story of this album actually reminds me of my dad's parents, specially with the title "Tallahassee," since they lived in Florida. They eventually got divorced and are now both passed away, but they were both alcoholics and seemed to have a complicated relationship. My grandma moved back in with my grandpa for the last few years of her life. According to my dad, even though she was horrible to him, he could never say no to her. I wasn't close to either of them, so I don't have a strong emotional attachment, but it's interesting to listen to this album and imagine how they were probably actually in love once.

One of my favorite things about this album is the jarring juxtaposition in the lyrics. Lines like "The night is lovely as a rose / If I see sunlight hit you / I am sure that we'll both decompose" and "In the way those eyes I've always loved illuminate this place / Like a trashcan fire in a prison cell don't go in the way you expect, just like the relationship didn't go the way the narrator expected. It's funny in a morbid way. As a certified fictional divorce enjoyer, I think it's fantastic.

Last thing I'd like to comment on is how the titles often don't seem to have anything to do with the lyrics. In some tracks, I have no idea what this means. But in a lot of them, it adds to the story by giving context (think "No Children" potentially implying the couple's failure to have children might be affecting their relationship) that you wouldn't otherwise get from the lyrics alone. There's a lot of ways to interpret this, and I think it's neat.

Favorite Track

How can I pick. It works best listening to the whole album in one go. But I guess if I haaaaave to pick I'll say "Old College Try," but "Southwood Plantation Road," "Have to Explode," and "Alpha Rats Nest" are all super close!

Rating: Love Loses! /5