A New Song From the Mountain Goats With a Nice Backstory

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There are many reasons—too many to count—why Twitter is bad.

Putting aside that it still hasn’t banned Nazis, or that it’s doing a piss-poor job of preventing the spread of disinformation, it’s also a platform designed to indulge in our worst internet habits. Doomscrolling on Twitter does nothing more than exacerbate our sense of existential dread. It fuels our stress, anxiety, and anger. And that’s especially true in the midst of a pandemic and the most bonkers election in at least a generation.

But every once in a while there comes a time where two people on that cursed site have a meaningful exchange—something that I, perhaps naively, want to believe is why Twitter was created in the first place.

These instances are fleeting and don’t usually amount to much. But in the case of John Darnielle, the frontperson of indie-rock legends the Mountain Goats, one such exchange led to a beautiful new song, called “Picture of My Dress,” on the band’s upcoming album.

As Darnielle explained on—you guessed it—Twitter yesterday, the song comes from a Twitter exchange he had with poet Maggie Smith, who in late 2018 tweeted about her desire to see a photo essay of a divorced woman driving across the country to take pictures of her rumpled wedding dress in various locales. “It’s a metaphorical ‘Weekend at Bernie’s,’” she wrote. Darnielle replied back, perhaps cheekily, that “this would be a song called ‘Picture of My Dress,” and that the ideal musician to write it would be Mary Chapin Carpenter.

Of course, that didn’t happen and Darnielle ended up writing it. Like most Mountain Goats songs, it’s a sanguine story.  It’s a lovely little tune with some of Darnielle’s trademark wit and observational humor (I laughed at the line: “I’m in the bathroom of a Dallas Texas Burger King/ Mr. Steven Tyler is on the overhead speakers/ He doesn’t want to miss a thing.”). Would it have been better if Mary Chapin Carpenter wrote it? Probably. But a Mountain Goats song about this is the next best thing.

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And the truth is, going into the final 4 days of the year we still needed to raise $TK to hit our $350,000 goal and start 2021 on track. It's nerve-wracking, wondering if the big spike we normally see at the end of December is going to be another thing that doesn't go as planned in 2020, or worse, if, now that Donald Trump is set to leave the White House (for longer than a taxpayer-funded golf trip to a property he owns), folks might be pulling back from fighting for the truth and a democracy and think the hard work is done.

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