Welcome to the Annotated Mountain Goats!
This is a comprehesive, accurate, 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. This site does not include releases from 2017 on, after the band moved on stylistically and thematically.
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. If you'd like to help, please read below and reach out!
Nota bene — help needed!
I'm still working hard on this: you can see the changelog or subscribe to the RSS feed if you'd like to see what's been happening recently. However, I'm having to slow down of late. By the beginning of next month, I'll be newly married, graduated from medical school, moving across the country to Rochester, New York, starting emergency medicine residency, and focusing on becoming the best husband, physician, and advocate for poor and suffering patients as I can be (not to be too obnoxious about it, but those are the goals — if you're curious, you can look here and here for a sense of what I mean by all that).
I'm no less devoted to this project, but already I've been forced to slow how rapidly I can respond to emails, update pages, and annotate albums, even those I truly love. I'm sorry to all of you who have emailed and have had to wait for weeks or months: as I hope you discovered, I do promise to get back to you, I just am not as swift as I once was.
If you'd like to support the project, I'd love your help — and patience — more than ever. I always love hearing from you, but particularly if you're interested in transcribing songs which lack lyrics, annotating albums which haven't been annotated, emailing me to keep me in the loop on things I may have missed, and so on. All of that helps a lot, believe it or not, and I'm grateful for all of it.
If you look below, you can see what needs to be done: as mentioned above, dashes (-) are unannotated, plusses (+) are unannotated and untranscribed. If any of it excites you, I'd love to have your contributions. The site is written in kramdown, a simple Markdown-based language — as an example, you can see what this looks like here as the source for Nothing for Juice — and you don't have to do the markup yourself if that's intimidating. I'm sorry that I'm fastidious, slow, and check everything myself, but every email is appreciated, and your help will make a bigger difference than ever (particularly on the new material, which I can't follow as closely as I used to).
You can always reach me at:
And buttons are always available.
with love &c.
— Kyle Barbour
from where the asphalt sprouts
- Bonus media
- Online releases
- Unreleased or live-only
- Side and previous projects
You can find this site at either of the following locations:
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. If you'd like to contribute, please let me know! I'd love to hear from you and if I've gotten something wrong, or you have more information, send it in.
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.
Many references and excellent banter 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.
Once upon a time, I made buttons for each Mountain Goats tour and passed them out at shows and through the mail. They're 100% free; my wife and I make them with our button maker. A fellow DIY fan has been making stickers and those are available here as well! While I no longer travel to shows like I used to, there are still a few remaining buttons from those years.
To obtain one, make a self-addressed, stamped envelope, and then email me so I can give you the address to send it to:
... and some will be on their way shortly. You can see previous designs here!
|- 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|
|The Sunset Tree||2005||4AD||CD/LP|
|We Shall All Be Healed||2004||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|
|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.
|- Transcendental Youth||Japan||Moorworks|
|All Eternals Deck||Australia||Remote Control|
|All Eternals Deck||Japan||Moorworks|
|Get Lonely||Japan||Beggars Japan|
|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|
|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|
|Chile de Árbol||1993||Ajax||7"|
|Songs for Petronius||1992||Shrimper||7"|
|Letter from Belgium||2004||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.
|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.
|- The Hound Chronicles/Hot Garden Stomp||2012||Shrimper||CD|
|Ghana||1999; 2002||Ajax; 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|
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.
|- 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|
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.
|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.
|Jack & Faye||1995/6|
|Hail and Farewell, Gothenburg||1995|
|+ other unreleased songs (#-F / G-L / M-R / S-Z)|
Side and previous projects
|+ #tcot||2015||Northern Spy||cassette|
|The Extra Glenns/Lens||Year||Label||Format|
|+ Martial Arts Weekend||2002||Absolutely Kosher||CD|
|+ Infidelity + 2||1994||Harriet||7"|
|+ other appearances|
|The Seneca Twins|
|+ Rehearsal tape||1995?||unreleased||unknown|
|+ unreleased songs|
|No Milk Since 1979||1991||Cache Cow||CD|
|+ other appearances|
|The Bloody Hawaiians|
|The Threegos||1994||Cache Cow||CD|
|The Magnificent Bloody Hawaiians||1985||Anthropology||CD|
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, Patrick Lickman, also known as echo, 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:
- Frank Zappa — Román García Albertos: Information Is Not Knowledge
- The Grateful Dead — David Dodd: The Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics
- Tool — Kabir Akhtar: toolshed
- The Pogues — Fran Moran: The Parting Glass
- American Gods — Renata Sancken: only the gods are real
- Alice's Adventures in WonderLand — Martin Gardner: The Annotated Alice
- Riddley Walker — Eli Bishop: Riddley Walker Annotations
- The Hunting of the Snark — Martin Gardner: The Annotated Hunting of the Snark
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:
- Kai, Alyssa (2017) – ROSE QUARTER DRIFTING: the Spiritual Principle of the Mountain Goats
- Shellnutt, Kate (2016) — The Mountain Goats' John Darnielle Loves Amy Grant, Rich Mullins, and the Book of Jonah
- Raggett, Ned (2015) — The Mountain Goats Get Over at GAMH
- Ries, Dan (2015) — In Praise of the Digital-Era Obscurity of the Mountain Goats
- Throsby, Margaret (2015) — ABC Classic FM: John Darnielle
- "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 Kyle Barbour, 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 kyle barbour"
- — 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!
- The Mountain Goats homepage, where John posts everything he so desires related to the band, and especially the discography.
- John Darnielle's beautifully spartan homepage
- The Mountain Goats Almanac and Star Chart, being the Mountain Goats newsletter as of late 2016.
- Last Plane to Jakarta, where John blogs primarily about death metal and boxing, alongside some forums.
- Jon Nall's excellent lyrics website and the oldest Mountain Goats fan site.
- The Mountain Goats forums, formerly the main Mountain Goats community.
- The Mountain Goats Wiki, an openly-editable archival project
- Reddit's Mountain Goats forum, another active fan community.
- Sad Young Cardinals, essays about the Mountain Goats
- Isopanisad Radio Hour, a radio show about the Mountain Goats out of WIIT 88.9 FM in Chicago
- I Hear Strange Music, excellent discographies from hometaping labels and musicians, including the Mountain Goats and related bands