Hail and Farewell, Gothenburg 1 2 3 4 5

Hail and Farewell, Gothenburg pseudoalbum cover Hail and Farewell, Gothenburg pseudoalbum back

Recorded: 1995 6
Label: unreleased

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Liner notes


Table of contents

  1. Hello, Old Rabbit
  2. You're So Vain
  3. Four New Trees
  4. I Love You. Let's Light Ourselves on Fire
  5. Milk Song
  6. Ghosts
  7. Red Choral Diamond Spray
  8. Ending the Alphabet
  9. Crane
  10. One Frozen River

Hello, Old Rabbit

I saw the long row of bluebells
Saw the foxglove and the nightshade 7
I saw the whole garden and I thought a while about
How I've been waiting for you since the second grade

The flowers made the air boil
The boiling air made me think of you awhile
I did not come here to suffer
I did not come here to suffer

I heard the ducks all quacking
I saw the sunshine on the lake
Saw you standing near the water
And wondered how long I'd be paying for one dumb mistake

The sight of you was really something else
But I don't know what that something else was
I did not come here to suffer
I did not come here to suffer

You're So Vain 8 9

Well, you walked into the party
Like you were walking onto a yacht
Your hat strategically dipped beneath one eye
Your scarf it was apricot

You had one eye on the mirror
And you watched yourself a lot 10
And all the boys 11 dreamed that they'd be your partner
They'd be your partner, yeah 12

Well, you had me several years ago
When I was still quite naive
And you said that we made such a pretty pair
And that you would never leave

But you gave away the things you loved
And one of them was me
I had some dreams, they were clouds in my coffee 13
Clouds in my coffee, yeah

Well, I heard that you went off to Saratoga 14
And your horse naturally won
And then you charted a Learjet to Nova Scotia 15
To see the total eclipse of the sun 16

Yeah, you're always where you should be
And when you're not you're with
Some underworld spy or your best friend's boyfriend 11
Your best friend's boyfriend, yeah

Four New Trees

The first new tree is tall and good
It gives hard, dark, brown, burning wood
For when winter comes; it stands right outside
With its blossom-laden arms spread wide

The second new tree gives out sweet, sticky fruit
And it took a long time to take root
Sometimes we thought it had given up the spirit
But now it makes me happy when I'm just standing near it

The third new tree stands just west of the barn
Its best branches no thicker than my arm
I will water him every day
And I will chase all the termites away

But the fourth new tree
Is my enemy
Yeah, the fourth new tree
Shouldn't be here

The fourth new tree
Sends its tendrils through the water mains and tries to poison me
Its leaves are thick and always falling
And pure

I Love You. Let's Light Ourselves on Fire

What's going to be the death of me
Static electricity
What's making me take it all too far
You are
You are

What's keeping me up at night
The street light
What's finally gonna let me sleep all right
You might
You might

How do I know what I know
Where did our love go
How come the river froze over this year
What are we hiding here
I saw you waiting by the mailbox
Saw the mailman come
Saw the neighbors poke their heads out of their windows
I saw everyone

Milk Song

When the sky was the color of cream
And you started leaving messages on my answering machine
Telling me that you were way across town
And would be home in a night or two

I started keeping track of my losses
There were only one or two I couldn't cover
And up there against the milk-white sky
I saw fleeting vestiges of you

The way you vanished gradually
Has made a bitter man of me
And the way you vanished gradually
Has made a bitter man of me

Where the ocean cleaves the rocks real clean
I dropped my answering machine
I watched the waves chew it into tiny little pieces
Saw the seafoam hissing in the air

On the balance sheet I'd been keeping in my mind, I entered
Two hundred kronors 17 to the left of the debit line
It was what the machine had cost me
It was a greater loss than I could bear

I hear the wheels and knobs whirring down to this very day
Long after the ocean has washed it all away
I heard the train go by last night
And it's a slow train out of here all right

But the way you disappeared in slow degrees
Has made a very patient man of me

Ghosts 18

I went down the road today
Just in the old way
And a black dog hobbled past me
His tags jangled on his collar

It made me wish I was dead
It made me wish I was dead

And the familiar sun on me
Just like it would always be
Rocky soil, dry land
Knew it all like the back of my hand

It made me wish I was dead
It made me wish I was dead

Terrific view from here
Skies clear
Sun's high
I let things lie

And I know what is and isn't mine
And it was good to get back to the sunshine
But five years is a long time
And I spent five years in Sweden dying for you
I spent five years in Sweden
Dying for you

Red Choral Diamond Spray

As we pull into the harbor in New York today
And I ask you how you're doing, you swear up and down you're OK
But I can see what's gotten into your eyes
It's written all over your face tonight
We will never see Ireland again
We will never see Ireland again

As we hang up the map on the motel wall
Count up the places that we've left behind, add the distances between them all
All the bridges someone's burned down for us
All the chances that we burned all by ourselves

Makes us wonder what we were thinking then
'Cause we will never see Ireland again
We will never see Ireland again
We will never see Ireland again

Ending the Alphabet 19

We got the brightest skyline 20
Like a vision of heaven on the evening sky
And a clocktower two blocks from the spot
Where I'm standing tonight

And the avenues are throbbing with people
And the late sunlight makes them all look like angels
And the transformation is seamless
They are unbearably bright

I can almost hear their voices
As I walk past them all toward the water
What is there left in a city like this
When everyone you know is gone

I saw the wind wash them all away
And I was freezing


Picked up a fat gold watch for you
Down where the river washes over the avenue
And I listened to it tick away the minutes
Looked out at the awful sky

I was afraid that my arm was broken
But it was only kind of run down
I went walking after 2 last night
Felt like I was the only guy in town

And I'm not, I know
And I don't need you to tell me so
Look at this watch
Look at this watch
You won't believe what this thing can do

One Frozen River

When my old friend came crawling up the hill
Broken and bloody
Carrying her hair in clumps in her hands
I let her right on in
I let her right in

When she stood near the kitchen window
Staring out at the countryside
And then she looked my way
I let her right on in
I let her right in

And when she was stronger than she'd been before
I opened the front door
And I opened the back door
And the sunlight poured in


Thanks to Caliclimber, whose incredible Flickr pages provided the album art. Which isn't actually the album art. But you knew that already.

  1. Hail and Farewell, Gothenburg, Nall, retrieved September 17, 2017.


  1. John has always been clear with his feelings about leaked albums, namely, that artists should have the right to release their work if and how they want. His words say it best:

    For those who're curious, yeah for sure the whole Gothenburg deal has had a chilling effect on me - I now delete/erase/destroy anything I don't feel like I'll wanna release, since I don't want this sort of thing to happen again. That makes me sad, 'cause I used to have archives of all sorts of weird stuff that at some point would all have been given out for free. New world, different rules!

    ... I'm just kinda touchy about this subject, since it does seem like people often say "hey, if you didn't want people to hear it, you shouldn't have even recorded it," which is, as I say, pretty limiting to one's creativity.


    it is my preference that people not listen to this stuff - obviously nobody's gotta respect my preference, though it's kinda weird that people are so cavalier about it ("well, I want it; end of story" :) - it hurts my feelings. If that's "thin-skinned," well, whatever y'know? That's how I am. I make myself available to people who like my stuff, and I'm open with them; it's one of the things that makes me different from other music dudes...

    to answer your question though - everybody who records makes HUNDREDS of songs they don't want anyone to hear, if not thousands. One learns from recording stuff. It's a valuable process, and it can be instructive to return to stuff and see how it went - what the process was. Now I know better than to leave it hanging around, and I destroy stuff I don't want people to hear. Such is the world, nothing to do about it!

    Issues around this leak and a sense of entitlement to music John chose not to release has resulted in the cancellation of at least one EP (West Texas Orphans) and probably many songs not being released that otherwise would have been. A substantial amount more information is available in the forums.

    This website exists in a strange balance. On the one hand, I actually share John's often-repeated love of ephemeral things. I've made at least one significant art project where the piece would never have had the impact it had on me and the other people involved if it survived, and making it again would be against the point. I love that some things that the Mountain Goats have made will never circulate outside the small group that initially participated in them, and I strongly support the tape trading culture that is opposed to everything being permanently uploaded to the internet, instead having more personal interactions. On the other hand, I love learning more about the Mountain Goats and other artists, and sites like this have helped me enormously with other things I fell in love with. I've found as I've dug deeper and deeper into the band's music that many people feel the same and want to share the joy and knowledge they have.

    I don't know where the line is, although I'm always aware of it, and there's a number of things that I refrain from hosting on the site in deference to that ideal, although I know I probably make more of the music easily accessible than John might be otherwise comfortable with. There's a great article by Daniel Fries on this topic that I recommend reading if you have the time.

    In any case, my position out of respect to John is that I will not facilitate anyone obtaining or listening to these songs. However, given that for many years the album has been listed on Nall's website, and that the majority of these songs have been played live, I feel that it's OK to share information about the release and the individual songs.

    Mountain Goats forums, Hail and Farewell, (1), (2), February 22 – 23, 2007. See also William Caxton Fan Club, hi! i have loved your music forever and i love.... Retrieved September 18, 2017.

    Spitznagel, Eric (2011). Q&A: The Mountain Goats' John Darnielle. MTV News. Retrieved September 17, 2017. 

  2. The tape that leaked is mastered too fast, with the result that John's voice and guitar are approximately one tone too high.

    John has some stellar things to say about the album and the pitch issue at the Swedish-American Hall, February 25, 2009.

    Mountain Goats forums, Hail and Farewell, February 22, 2007, retrieved September 18, 2017. See also can someone please upload the song "ghosts"?, November 10, 2007, retrieved September 18, 2017. 

  3. Being unreleased, there is no official cover art for Hail and Farewell, Gothenburg. Russell Hill from Theme Park (the label which released Philyra) designed the album art commonly associated with the album and used here. 

  4. Hail and Farewell, Gothenburg was intended to be the sequel to Sweden.

    Nall, Mountain Goats FAQ, retrieved September 17, 2017. 

  5. In a particularly amazing live show (Castro Theater, San Francisco, December 14, 2010), many songs and outtakes from Sweden and Hail and Farewell, Gothenburg, were played live as the score to the Swedish silent film Sir Arne's Treasure for the San Francisco Film Society. Songs were not played in order but matched to scenes; for example, as Arne's house was burned to the ground by the three marauders, John played Snow Crush Killing Song, which has the subtitle, "The house was burned down by the young man.

  6. Hail and Farewell, Gothenburg was never released. Likely recorded in 1995 after Sweden, it was leaked in 2006 (to the best of my knowledge).

    Strangely enough, it was listed in the discography found in the Japanese issue of All Eternals Deck.

    Mountain Goats forums, How do Leaks Happen?, September 9, 2009, retrieved September 17, 2017. 

  7. Bluebells, foxglove, and nightshade are the Hyacinthoides, Digitalis, and Solanaceae genuses, respectively. 

  8. You're So Vain is part of the informal series of cover songs

  9. You're So Vain was a 1972 hit single by musician Carly Simon. The song rose to the #1 position on the Billboard Top 40 and is certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America. Simon has stated that each three verses refers to a different person. The only identity she has confirmed is that the second verse is about actor Warren Beatty.

    Billboard. Carly Simon — Chart History. Retrieved September 18, 2017.

    Dowd, Kathy Ehrich. Carly Simon Says 'You're So Vain' Is About Warren Beatty — Well, Only the Second Verse: 'He Thinks the Whole Thing Is About Him!'. People, November 18, 2015. Retrieved September 18, 2017. 

  10. The original line goes, "... watched yourself gavotte", referring to the French dance of the same name.

    Chagollan, Steve. Deconstructing Carly Simon’s "You're So Vain". Variety, April 9, 2012. Retrieved September 18, 2017. 

  11. The song is originally sung from a female perspective, and so the original is different in several ways. In the second stanza of the first verse, the line is, "And all the girls dreamed that..." Similarly, the final two lines of the last stanza are, "Some underworld spy or the wife of a close friend / Wife of a close friend, and".  2

  12. John's version omits the chorus. The original contains the following lines after every verse:

    You're so vain
    You probably think this song is about you
    You're so vain
    I'll bet you think this song is about you
    Don't you, don't you

    John has stated that he didn't have a reason that he recollects for leaving the chorus out, and that as the album was released without his permission much of the music isn't as he intended.

    William Caxton Fan Club, hi! i have loved your music forever and i love..., retrieved September 18, 2017. 

  13. Simon wrote the following about the origin of this phrase:

    The only phrase that remains from that first effort came when I was flying to Palm Springs with Billy Mernit, my piano player and great friend since my summer camp job when I met Jake in '68. Sitting next to me on the airplane, Billy pointed out the reflection in my cup — something he'd noticed with his keen photographer-lyricist's eyes: "Check it out, you've got clouds in your coffee."

    I took out my little black book and wrote it down. You never know. The talent is in catching the right casual quip.

    The phrase later became the title of her 1995 retrospective box set.

    Simon, Carly (2015). Boys in the Trees: a memoir. New York: Flatiron Books. ISBN 978-1-250-09589-3 

  14. Referring to the famous Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York, one of the oldest and most prestigious racetracks in the United States. 

  15. Changing the meaning slightly, the original line is, "Then you flew your Learjet..."

    Learjet is a manufacturer of private luxury airplanes. 

  16. This would refer to either the total solar eclipse on March 7, 1970 or July 10, 1972, both of which passed through Nova Scotia.

    Nova Scotia is one of the easternmost provinces of Canada, being a peninsula off New Brunswick into the Atlantic immediately east of Maine. 

  17. The Swedish krona, meaning "crown", is the base unit of currency in Sweden since 1873. In 1995, $1 US exchanged for approximately 7 – 8 kronor. The krona has had purchasing power parity with the US dollar in recent years, perhaps with a slight advantage historically, and so the value of 200 kr is around $20 – $25 US.

    XE. Historical Rate Tables. Retrieved September 17, 2017.

    Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Purchasing power parities. Retrieved September 17, 2017. 

  18. "I wrote this song in Germany. We should all be so lucky as to not have to suffer the same fate." Press, Claremont, February 6, 2000. 

  19. It's unclear to me whether Ending the Alphabet should be considered part of the Alpha couple series or not. In content it isn't obviously about the couple, although by my read it could go either way. I have no evidence to say not and so by my rubric of including all songs with Alpha in the title, I am conservatively adding it until other information surfaces. 

  20. Nall writes this lyrics as, "We got the brightest skylight. I can't honestly tell whether he's right or not, but skyline makes more sense to me. If you have evidence one way or another, drop me a line