The Mountain Goats: Four standout reflections on the teen years

John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats is one of my personal heroes. He demonstrates the truth of the phrase "Someday, this pain will be useful to you." He is vocal about how therapy has helped him overcome the trauma of an abusive childhood and is own drug addiction. His songs capture the desperation and floundering that come from wanting to have a better life. There's a sense of hopefulness, too. It's legitimate in a way that could only come from someone who has been there and come out the other side.

Romans 10:9

Let's get this out of the way: this song isn't explicitly about being a teen. Its themes apply to every stage of life. It captures that fevered hope that something will change, somehow, without doing anything. Combining religious allusions and personal hopes makes this a powerful track.

Standout lyric:

Won't take the medication but it's good to have around/A kind and loving God won't let my small ship run aground

You Were Cool

I don't know if I've met a single adult who didn't wish they were braver in high school. Not in terms of jumping off buildings, but in being honest, vulnerable, and standing up for others. It's easy to just go along with the crowd. It's harder to show who you really are and say what you really mean. We can't control if others like us, even if we hide our uniqueness. Showing up as yourself is scary, but worth it. 

Standout lyric:

People were mean to you, but I always thought you were cool/clicking down the concrete hallway in your spiked heels back in high school

Amy aka Spent Gladiator 1

In life, there's often way more problems than there are solutions. This is especially true when you're a teen. You have less power over where you live, how you spend a lot of your day, or what you can do in your free time. When we don't have a lot of options, we find some creative ways to just make it through the day. In this context, "dumb decisions" make a lot more sense.

Standout lyric:

Do every stupid thing that makes you feel alive/Do every stupid thing to try to drive the dark away

This Year

The Sunset Tree is one of The Mountain Goats' most wrenching albums. This stellar track combines the themes of abuse and drinking with a clearer image of hope. Through connection and support, there will be a way out - there will have to be, damn it.

Standout lyric:

I am going to make it through this year if it kills me

What did ya'll think? Were there any songs I missed? Who else do you find really speaks to you? Let me know in the comments below.

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