WOWEE ZOWEE (47)
November 21, 2018
One in a series of enthusiastic posts, contributed by HILOBROW friends and regulars, on the subject of our favorite albums of the Nineties (1994–2003). A new installment in this series will appear each Wednesday during 2018.
ALL HAIL WEST TEXAS | THE MOUNTAIN GOATS | 2002
I was living alone in a falling-down house I’d recently bought, by the side of a rural road in Vermont, thinking about my life choices. An internet friend of mine sent me a cassette which had All Hail West Texas on one side and a collection of railroad songs and ballads on the other. I didn’t know anything about the Mountain Goats except that a bass player friend of mine liked them, and also clued me in that TMG was actually only one guy mostly, not a band. I played the hell out of that tape, being happy that I was no longer living in Seattle watching my tech friends get stratospherically rich (at the time!) while I was working at the collective bookstore and teaching older people how to use email.
I related to Darnielle’s stories of lovable losers, and emotional disregulation and nostalgia, and a sense of never quite feeling like you’d gotten to the place that felt like home. I staved off loneliness listening to the music of people who went on road trips, visited the post office, cared very deeply about people they also couldn’t always stand to be around.
Fifteen years later, in an apartment on the side of another Vermont road, I found the cassette in my closet. I’d recently gotten my home stereo working again. Even though I can listen to the whole thing on YouTube now, I popped it into my cassette player. Hearing Darnielle’s song stories segue into Hazel Dickens and “Big Rock Candy Mountain” seems like the proper progression. I still teach older people how to use email. I’m a regular fixture at my rural post office. I put a picture of the cassette up on the social web and got to thank the friend who sent it to me and have a fun conversation with far flung nerds-like-me about what this music meant to us at the time, and now. I wasn’t necessarily any less ruminative about my life choices, but I’d definitely made my peace with them à la “Riches and Wonders”: “I want to go home/But I am home.”
WOWEE ZOWEE: Stephanie Burt on UNISEX | Anindita Basu Sempere on UNDER THE PINK | Mark Kingwell on DUMMY | Bill Nericcio on AMOR PROHIBIDO | Sherri Wasserman on HIPS AND MAKERS | Mimi Lipson on THANK YOU | John Overholt on BEN FOLDS FIVE | Jordan Ellenberg on GET LOST | Chelsey Johnson on PERSONAL BEST | Marilyn Snell on MAXINQUAYE | Dan Fox on DIFFERENT CLASS | Devin McKinney on IF YOU’RE FEELING SINISTER | Alice Boone on MTV UNPLUGGED (ALICE IN CHAINS) | Rob Wringham on SPICE | Joe Alterio on BEATS, RHYMES AND LIFE | Jason Loeffler on SECOND TOUGHEST IN THE INFANTS | Rick Pinchera on EITHER/OR | Josh Glenn on THE LONESOME CROWDED WEST | Jennifer Krasinski on SUPA DUPA FLY | Sara Ryan on DIG ME OUT | Luc Sante on MEZZANINE | Molly Wright Steenson on I CAN HEAR THE HEART BEATING AS ONE | Franklin Bruno on ENGLAND MADE ME | Michael Campochiaro on IS THIS DESIRE? | Adrienne Crew on CALIFORNICATION | Drew Daniel on I SEE A DARKNESS | Veda Hille on THE SOFT BULLETIN | Vanessa Berry on TEENAGE SNUFF FILM | Tom Kipp on GET SKINTIGHT | David Hirmes on DOPETHRONE | John Hilgart on YORK BLVD. | Deborah Wassertzug on JOURNEY TO THE END OF THE NIGHT | Adam McGovern on INVINCIBLE SUMMER | Brian Berger on TIRED SOUNDS OF… | Michael Grasso on MUSIC HAS THE RIGHT TO CHILDREN | Jen Collins on HURRAH | Flourish Klink on THE TEACHES OF PEACHES | Judith Zissman on TALLAHASSEE | Lauren Oliver on SOUND-DUST | Jason Cohen on IS THIS IT | Matthew De Abaitua on THE RAINBOW CHILDREN | Jenny Davidson on TIME (THE REVELATOR) | Crystal Durant on LIVE THROUGH THIS | Gordon Dahlquist on GARBAGE | Erin M. Routson on WASHING MACHINE | Carl Wilson on TEMPTING | Jessamyn West on ALL HAIL WEST TEXAS | Kaleb Horton on STREETCORE | Tom Nealon on BAZOOKA TOOTH | Erik Davis on DOPESMOKER | David Levine on FEVER TO TELL | Deb Chachra on MASS ROMANTIC.
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