Editor's note: this piece contains discussions of suicide, depression, and alcohol and substance abuse.
on the day that Dennis Brown’s habits caught up with him school children sang in choir
and out behind the Chinese restaurants, guys were jumping into dumpsters
and the stench was overbearing
but they were past the point of caring
on the day my habits catch up with me, I’ll be down among the jumpers
Like many a fan, my main point of entry to the Mountain Goats was through The Sunset Tree. Who’d have thought an album containing some of the most harrowing songs John Darnielle had ever written that touch on his domestic abuse would make for such an universally loved record that introduced so many people to his work? Despite the heavy subject matter, it’s full of some of the band’s most popular songs, including This Year and Dance Music, two of the first that I ever heard. I first listened to them one October, and that Christmas I ordered myself a copy of The Sunset Tree and then fell in love with the band, the album, and with every song on it. Well, every song except one.