Wednesday, January 23, 2008

9. Sun Kil Moon - Ghosts of the Great Highway
Came After - The Dismemberment Plan, Heartbreak
Mark Kozelek is the saddest man alive. Sadder than that guy in American Music Club. He is so sad, that in Red House Painters debut album, he coined the line "glass on the pavement under my shoe, without you, is all my life amounts to." That is the saddest lyric in the world. It should come as no surprise, if you've been following these posts, that I gravitated towards Mark Kozelek's sad voice during the saddest point of my life. I came across Sun Kil Moon (which is what Kozelek calls himself now that he's done with the Red House Painters, but seriously, they're the same thing, except Sun Kil Moon is without that 4AD production "value,") when listening to the streaming mp3 feed, and "Carry Me Ohio" came on. It was beautiful and...sad. I was a Tower Records (RIP) on West End sometime later that week when I found a copy of Ghosts of the Great Highway and bought it based off of that song.
It fucking kills.
The entire album is stunning, from opener "Glen Tipton," to "Salvador Sanchez," and it is quite simply the saddest thing I had ever heard. Consider this lyric from "Glen Tipton":
I knew an old woman, ran a donut shop
she worked late, serving cops
then one day, her heart stopped
place ain't the same no more.
Doesn't that just make you want to cry? Lyrically, Kozelek leans toward the simple, uncomplex musings of a high school senior who just got dumped on the prom. But his lyrics and delivery make all those terrible "emo" bands sound like soap opera stars. When Kozelek gets his heart ripped out, you know it. He is quite simply, the saddest man in the world.
The Ghosts of the Great Highway affected me something terrible in my songwriting process. I spent the entire summer in Columbia, TN writing Mark Kozelek rip-off songs. I even recorded covers of Kozelek songs, when my rip-offs just weren't good enough. I tuned my guitars to open tunings. I was obsessed with Kozelek. Then, after my speculating he was going to do it for about 2 years, he came out with a covers album of Modest Mouse songs. So, here was my favorite singer of all time doing songs by my favorite band of all time. How much more perfect could life be? But it wasn't so. Kozelek nails a few MM songs perfectly, but really, his voice is not meant for musings on life and God. It's meant to convey the emotions of the saddest motherfucker in the world. And for one summer, that is exactly what I needed to know. No matter how depressed I might have been, Kozelek was worse off.

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