The Mountain Goats: “This Year”

Often touted as one of the best modern-day lyricists, The Mountain Goats’ founder and frontman, John Darnielle, has a way with words—and, as it happens, a way with melody as well. On the surface, “This Year” from 2005’s The Sunset Tree tells a story about getting through a singularly insufferable period of time, to which all of us could probably relate. Take a fine-tooth comb to the language, however, and you’ll find the freedom he’s found in the beginning will not go unpunished, as he’ll have to face his abusive stepfather when he returns. Why am I telling you this? Why did I choose this song and this band above all others to begin 2010? Not just for the oft-syncopated, infectious piano chords, and not to depress the shit out of you (although I admit I’m pretty good at that). Or to tell you to become a vegetarian, which Darnielle has been since 1996.

No. I want this song to serve as inspiration. All of us have pasts and none of them are perfect, nor can we change them now. What we can change is the future. As hordes of hoi polloi make their absurdly unattainable New Year’s resolutions, most focus on hitting the gym a little more and the bottle a little less, all while losing sight of the bigger picture. With that in mind, I ask that we not be myrmidons, slaves to whatever job it is that 55 percent of us are not satisfied at, complacently accepting the status quo and the feeling that this is as good as it gets. Instead, let us all break free on a Saturday morning, put the pedal to the floor, head north on Mills Avenue, and listen to the engine roar.

The Mountain Goats – This Year

Who: The Mountain Goats

What: The Sunset Tree

When: 4.26.2005

Where: Durham, North Carolina

Why: “I am gonna make it through this year if it kills me.”

How: 4AD

3 Responses to “The Mountain Goats: “This Year””

  1. Dave Says:

    I usually dig a lot of your music but this dude’s voice is very irritating, imo. *sigh* back to Elliott Smith

  2. stella1722 Says:

    He does have a distinctive voice. I like it, but I guess not everyone will…

  3. Celina Says:

    Ha! I was actually just going to make a similar comment to Dave’s. I have tried in the past to embrace the unique sound, but I struggle in appreciating that voice of his.

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