What We're Reading Today: Chicago Reader's Profile of Jason Molina

Jason Molina's death is still felt in any number of albums dropping these days and, clearly, anytime anyone lights up the stereo with his songs. His legacy continues to open up and reveal complex inner workings. This week's feature from the Chicago Reader, a massive profile of the musician, opens the story up a bit more.

Throughout Molina's discography, you can hear the dipsomaniacal yearnings of a young man from a Lorain, Ohio, trailer park. His plainspoken singing style and harrowing command of fundamental elements of humanity made for striking music. He also had a knack for harmony — and surrounded himself with similarly talented musicians.

An excerpt from the piece:
"[Jason] was large and multitudinous: commensurately inspiring and frustrating, goofy and gloomy, spontaneous and studied, generous and self-absorbed, loyal and flaky, wise and naive, trusting and paranoid, outgoing and reserved, honest and totally full of shit, and every blessed and profane thing in between," his former bandmate, Max Winter, wrote after his death. "And it's all there in his music."

Once he learned to control his commanding voice and found his way around the six-string guitar, Molina used his songs to confront the darker side of humanity. And though he struggled with his own fragility—and ultimately couldn't find his way out of the darkness—his music artfully explored the tension between the calm and the chaotic.

"He would crank his electric, but he would barely touch the strings," visual artist Will Schaff recalls. "You'd still hear tone and the chord changes. Then every once in a while he'd strum fully and this noise would come. It was such a beautiful use of dynamics—so much silence and so much crashing thunder." 
Molina's grand transition album, his masterpiece, Magnolia Electric Co. (recorded under the Songs: Ohia name), is terrific and embedded here.



About The Author

Eric Sandy

Eric Sandy is an award-winning Cleveland-based journalist. For a while, he was the managing editor of Scene. He now contributes jam band features every now and then.
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