Hi, we're the Annotated Mountain Goats


This is a comprehesive, verifiable, and referenced guide to the first 25 years of the music of the Mountain Goats. The site covers the boombox, early studio, biographical, and later studio eras of the band. This period, lasting from approximately 1992 to 2017, contains a massive corpus of staggering complexity, range, and humanity. With few exceptions, this site does not include releases after 2017.

Pick the release you're looking for. In the below tables, links indicate annotations. Links in italics are incomplete: those prefixed with a dash (-) contain lyrics but have yet to be annotated; those prefixed with a plus (+) instead need transcription as well.

The Annotated Mountain Goats is presently in an archival state, and is edited only intermittently. It is likely permanently incomplete. Nonetheless, I love hearing from you. Please feel free to reach out!

To subscribe to updates, infrequent as they are, use the RSS feed.

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The objective of this website is to provide a comprehensive, referenced source for information about the lyrics of the Mountain Goats. John's commentaries and details about obscure references can all be found inside.

Many of the references are from comments John has made at live shows. If these are reported, it's always from a recording so it can be verified. All of these are available online, in the forums, or elsewhere. If you can't find the source and you'd like to confirm a quote, feel free to shoot me a line. Similarly, in the live show directory, the only tapes listed are those whose existence I've been able to personally verify.

Much excellent banter and some references are left unannotated. The goal of this website is to help discover and understand the Mountain Goats as opposed to revealing every gem. Listening to live shows and banter yourself will continue to yield moments which cannot be had otherwise. Many particularly amazing descriptions are summarized rather than quoted, and a great deal of banter not pertaining to explaining a song are left for the listener to discover. John himself has said with some frequency that he doesn't believe in parsing every detail — that the meanings of songs change and should be interpreted by the listeners. That said, I love hearing what he thinks about his music, hence this website. So, please be careful with overanalyzing and avoid dogma as you use these annotations.

This website focuses on the first 25 years of the Mountain Goats due to my intense love of the music from this period and to define borders on this massive project to make it feasible. One of the delightful things about the Mountain Goats is that they have no hard rules and incredible stylistic range, from solo folk punk boombox recordings to highly produced and sophisticated orchestration with numerous musicians. Although their releases after 2017 are, to my ear, distinct in many ways from their early material, this is clearly gradual, and there is not a hard boundary. Who knows? The earlier style may even someday return, as we saw with Songs for Pierre Chuvin.


Once upon a time, I made buttons for each Mountain Goats tour and passed them out at shows and through the mail. They were 100% free; I made them with my button maker. A fellow DIY fan has been making stickers and those are viewable here as well.

To see the designs, see here!


Title Year Label Format
- Beat the Champ 2015 Merge CD/double 12" 45 rpm
Transcendental Youth 2012 Merge CD/LP
All Eternals Deck 2011 Merge CD/LP
The Life of the World to Come 2009 4AD CD/LP
Heretic Pride 2008 4AD CD/LP
Get Lonely 2006 4AD CD/LP
The Sunset Tree 2005 4AD CD/LP
We Shall All Be Healed 2004 4AD CD/LP
Tallahassee 2002 4AD CD/LP
All Hail West Texas 2002; 2013 Emperor Jones; Merge CD; CD/LP
The Coroner's Gambit 2000 Absolutely Kosher CD/LP
Full Force Galesburg 1997 Emperor Jones CD/LP
Nothing for Juice 1996 Ajax CD/LP/promo cassette
Sweden 1995 Shrimper CD/LP
Zopilote Machine 1994; 2005 Ajax; 3 Beads of Sweat CD/LP
Yam, the King of Crops 1994 Oska cassette
Taking the Dative 1994 Car in Car Disco Product cassette
- Hot Garden Stomp 1993 Shrimper cassette
Transmissions to Horace 1993 Sonic Enemy cassette
The Hound Chronicles 1992 Shrimper cassette
Taboo VI: The Homecoming 1992 Shrimper cassette

Several albums have additional foreign issues containing extras. These are listed below. All additional foreign issues have thus far been in the same year as the main release and in CD format.

Title Country Label
- Transcendental Youth Japan Moorworks
All Eternals Deck Australia Remote Control
All Eternals Deck Japan Moorworks
Get Lonely Japan Beggars Japan


Title Year Label Format
Moon Colony Bloodbath 2009 Cadmean Dawn 12" 45 rpm
Black Pear Tree 2008 Cadmean Dawn 12" 45 rpm
Satanic Messiah 2008 Cadmean Dawn double 7"/digital
Babylon Springs 2006 4AD CD
Devil in the Shortwave 2002 Yoyo single-sided 12"
Jam Eater Blues 2001 Sub Pop 7"
On Juhu Beach 2001 Nursecall; Yoyo 3" CD
Isopanisad Radio Hour 1998 Yoyo single-sided 12"
New Asian Cinema 1998 Yoyo single-sided 12"
Nine Black Poppies 1995 Emperor Jones CD
Songs About Fire 1995 Cassiel 7"
Songs for Peter Hughes 1995 Sonic Squid 7"
Orange Raja, Blood Royal 1995 Walt 7"
Beautiful Rat Sunset 1994 Shrimper 10"/CD
Philyra 1994 Theme Park 7"
Chile de Árbol 1993 Ajax 7"
Songs for Petronius 1992 Shrimper 7"


Title Year Label Format
Dilaudid 2005 4AD digital
Letter from Belgium 2004 4AD 7"/CD
Palmcorder Yajna 2003 4AD 7"/CD
See America Right 2002 4AD 7"/CD


Collaboration records are put in the albums, EPs, or singles categories as appropriate, as given the nature of the Mountain Goats it feels artificial to me to distinguish between the nebulous nature of the regular band at times and a formal collaboration. True splits are listed below, along with true collaborations with bands outside the traditional Mountain Goats canon. Collaborations John makes with other bands released under their names are annotated on the other collaborations page.

Title Year Label Format
Bedside Recordings Vol. 1.2 2003 Barsuk 7"
Tropical Depression 1997 Little Mafia 7"
Why You All So Thief? 1994 Sing Eunuchs 7"
+ other collaboration appearances      


Appearances on non-Mountain-Goats compilations are annotated together on the other compilations page.

Title Year Label Format
- The Hound Chronicles/Hot Garden Stomp 2012 Shrimper CD
Ghana 2002 3 Beads of Sweat CD
Bitter Melon Farm 1999; 2002 Ajax; 3 Beads of Sweat CD
Protein Source of the Future... NOW! 1999; 2002 Ajax; 3 Beads of Sweat CD
- other compilation appearances      

Bonus media

Media released in association with an album, generally containing demos, extras, or outtakes. For a complete list of such tracks, see the series page for the informal series of demos and alternate versions and outtakes and extras. Extras without bonus media are annoted with the album in question.

Title Year Format Associated album
- Blood Capsules b/w Dub Capsules 2015 12" 45 rpm Beat the Champ
- Steal Smoked Fish b/w In the Shadow of the Western Hills 2012 7" Transcendental Youth
- All Survivors Pack 2011 cassette All Eternals Deck
- The Life of the World in Flux 2009 CD The Life of the World to Come
- Come, Come to the Sunset Tree 2005 LP The Sunset Tree

Online releases

Albums or songs whose primary medium of release was an online studio, boombox, or demo recording, but not as an official EP or album. For Songs for Vamsidasa Babaji, see Heretic Pride.

This site chronicles the Mountain Goats formally through 2017. However, as unreleased and online material continued to reflect on that period, these categories include songs through 2018.

Title Year Format
Seven for Australia 2008 digital
Three for Mike G 2008 digital
Hospicio de Huerfanos 2005 digital
other online releases   digital

Unreleased or live-only

Albums or songs which are entirely unreleased or which are only played at concerts, radio sessions, and so on.

This site chronicles the Mountain Goats formally through 2017. However, as unreleased and online material continued to reflect on that period, these categories include songs through 2018.

Title Recorded
Jack & Faye 1995/6
Hail and Farewell, Gothenburg 1995
+ other unreleased songs (#-F / G-L / M-R / S-Z)  

Side and previous projects

#tcot Year Label Format
- #tcot 2015 Northern Spy cassette
The Extra Glenns/Lens Year Label Format
- Undercard 2010 Merge CD/LP
- Martial Arts Weekend 2002 Absolutely Kosher CD
+ Infidelity + 2 1994 Harriet 7"
+ other appearances      
- unreleased songs      
The Seneca Twins      
+ Rehearsal tape 1995? unreleased unknown
+ unreleased songs      
The Congress      
No Milk Since 1979 1991 Cache Cow CD
+ other appearances      
The Bloody Hawaiians      
The Threegos 1994 Cache Cow CD
Bastard Son 1986 Anthropology CD
The Magnificent Bloody Hawaiians 1985 Anthropology CD
other appearances      

Multiple additional Congress releases exist, specifically Full Term (1995), The Farm Out Back (1991), She Lies in Roses (1989), We All Fall Down (1985), Sleeping Under Angels' Wings (1985), and Election Year (1985). All were released under the Cache Cow label on cassette. These are not listed above since I've never been able to find copies of them.

The official Mountain Goats discography claims that there is a Seneca Twins demo. However, this is known to be incorrect, and this recording is actually a live show, and accordingly is listed in the live show page. One track off of a rehearsal tape is available.

John has occasionally released material under other names, such as the Comedians (an early name for collaborations between Darnielle and Vanderslice), Yamaraja Racers (a cover band for himself), and others. These are documented as if they were released as Mountain Goats titles, since other than the name they are indistinguishable from Mountain Goats material. #tcot (a project with Christopher R. Weingarten) is a similar two-person collaboration but is listed separately given how different the material is.


First, thank you, John Darnielle, for making music that has inspired and moved me so much, over and over again. Words cannot describe what your music means to me. Thank you.

I owe a huge thanks to one man in particular: Christopher MacMurray, often known as Caliclimber, who I became friends with at a show and who has encouraged my love of the Mountain Goats in every way possible. He's also produced several truly remarkable Flickr albums, which detail almost every piece of Mountain Goats cover art, related cover art, posters, and Extra Glenns and Lens cover art, from which I and others have cribbed heavily. Thank you for everything, Cali, you are the best.

I also would like to thank Jon Nall for producing his remarkable website, for being the Mountain Goats archivist, for unknowingly exposing me and so many others to information about so much great music, and for inspiring this website. Thanks for paving the way.

Many people have offered information, discussion, feedback, criticism, advice, corrections, and rare praise regarding the contents of this site. Particularly I would like to thank the denizens of the Mountain Goats forums for much discussion and analysis helping me to find more information, the Mountain Goats subreddit for similar reasons, and commenters on many websites (particularly on Songmeanings) for helping me track down obscure references. Of these people, four in particular stand out: Thomas Fidler, also known as Drumhax, Riley Routh, who spontaneously drafted entire pages about albums and spurred me to write more, Wil Hall, who transcribed entire albums' worth of lyrics, and Stephen Plummer, a frequent chatter on #themountaingoats, whose impeccable memory and knowledge of live material corrected many errors in the live show directory. Thank you all! You have made this website so much better.

I was inspired to make this website in part because of other annotations that helped me fall more deeply in love with music and literature that kept me alive back in the day (and now). So a deep thank you to the fans who curated these incredible sites and books:

Lastly, thank you to all fans of this amazing band for being an extraordinary community and for supporting excellent independent music.

The Annotated Mountain Goats in the media

To my utter shock, occasionally this website (or my buttons) have been mentioned in print:


"The Seth Tisue of tMG."
— Andrew Cothren and Max Cohen, Desert Island Discourse
"It's cool as fuck... However ... Venetian blinds? Are they a mystery to people?"
— an anonymous English fan who may have a song written about him
"I have no particular conclusion to give in a rambling piece about nothingness, save for my gratitude to God, the Mountain Goats, and [the author of the Annotated Mountain Goats], and my hope that all our beings and becomings will find themselves freed from their bonds on some glorious day."
— Alyssa Kai, lyskoi and Ramshackle Glory
"all hail [the author of the Annotated Mountain Goats]"
Darnielle Bot
"This is the best site on the internet."
— Elle May, #themountaingoats and the Heartless Artichokes

I wish could bring myself to agree with Elle above — and I have to admit that my trout-like comrade from England has a point. Either way it brings me great joy to hear that other people have enjoyed the site. Have anything to say about the site, positive or negative? Get in touch! I'd love to share your thoughts here.


A browser extension has been written by Micaiah Parker to more easily see footnotes as a popup instead of following the link to the bottom of each page. If you'd like to use it, you can find it here for Chrome and here for Firefox!

Further reading