"This Year" by The Mountain Goats

Twin high maintenance machines

The year begins, the calendar page fresh and new, blank journals ready to be filled, and later forgotten. We trade unrealistic vows of change, lists of things we deem are wrong, that we could do better, that we will do better. But, right now, who we are, is good enough. Right now, who we are, is more than good enough.

Today is the start of a music project that I attempted last year, not succeeding, but not really setting myself up to succeed. Who knows if this time will work. This could be another forgotten journal, a third of the way filled out, then set aside. But, this could be the year I finish things, including this music challenge thing.

365 Days of Music – Day 1 – January 1, 2023

“This Year” by The Mountain Goats – from the album, The Sunset Tree (2005)

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

At first listen, this sounds like an anthem of hope, of determination, of god-damn new year’s resolutions. On repeated plays, though, I notice the irony of making it unless you die. Then I watched the video, which I somehow missed back in 2005, and its basically a bunch of home invasion killers, propping their victims up as a band, and making them play. Something about that makes me laugh wryly, or something, and think of how many times I’ve propped myself up on the first of January to make myself play along with some long list of challenges I’m sure to fail, making myself the victim. Me, as my own home invader, torturer, killer. Maybe this year I’ll just make it through with a bit of grace and kindness, starting with grace and kindness to myself.

Also, I love the line “twin high maintenance machines” – the way it feels in my mouth when I sing it, and the thought of two emotional, trauma filled, scarred people who need need need, trying to love each other. Yep, I get that.

The Mountain Goats, originally singer-songwriter John Darnielle’s music moniker, started in Claremont, California. Not all that far from where I live in California, though I’ve only been there once to see a music/art show, Claremont is known for music, and music education. “This Year” is the third track off of the 2005 album, The Sunset Tree, an autobiographical album telling stories through songs about Darnielle’s childhood spent with an abusive stepfather – a reality I very much relate to. All songs on the album revolve around the house he grew up in, and the people who lived there – his mother, sister, stepfather, friends, and enemies.

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