Monday will mark two years since Jason Molina‘s passing. Maybe you have heard of him. Maybe you haven’t. In all likelihood, you may have known Molina by his projects, namely Songs: Ohia that later was renamed Magnolia Electric Co. His legacy extend beyond his songs, as he was a “songwriter’s songwriter” – an individual who was able to paint exquisite pictures with his words and who used allegory not as a weapon but as an instrument to persuade and captivate. He was a gifted balladeer, storyteller, and artist, who will be remembered for writing some of the most brilliant and touching songs of the past two decades and for his gravitating live performances.
His passing on March 16, 2013 was a loss to all those who loved music, and he touched a large number of people. Performers across the music industry paid tribute to him immediately following his passing, and they continue to do so today. His memory still lives within so many, and today we honor this masterful musician and songwriter with a special compilation of songs. This list includes original songs written by artists in tribute of Molina as well as covers of songs he wrote. We hope for those who have appreciated Molina’s music will enjoy the compilation below while for those getting their first introduction to the singer-songwriter will gain a new respect. If you would like to know more about Jason Molina, writer Erin Osmon is in the final stages of completing an biography of the late artist, and it should be out some time this year.
The Avett Brothers – “Hammer Down” (Cover)
Strand of Oaks – “JM”
As part of his stellar, 2014 album, Heal, Timothy Showalter wrote this slow burning, spine-tingling number, “JM”, in tribute to Molina. Showalter explained to Stereogum about why he wrote the song:
I only met him once. I don’t know of any casual fans of Songs: Ohia. The fans that I know of Jason’s are all like me: They seem like a friend of Jason’s. It’s that weird too-deep-of-a-feeling that probably made him feel uncomfortable as a perfomer. But that shit mattered. It wasn’t just a passing fad. Those songs were like a culture that you lived in. When I wrote the songs, I had to write “JM” because I had to tell whoever wanted to listen that, “Look, I rip this guy off.” This guy is — I just want to be his doppleganger when it comes to music. He is the realest, most badass musician of my generation. We lost him way too young, and I need to show him, wherever he is, my appreciation. It was all I could do.
Marissa Nadler & Mark Kozelek – “It’s Easier Now” (cover)
These two great singer-songwriters separately covered “It’s Easier Now”. Both are stunning versions.
Damien Jurado – “I’ve Been Riding With a Ghost”
My Morning Jacket – “Farewell Transmission” (Cover)
This isn’t the most faithful cover you’ll hear. The original (here) is an incredibly powerful song, but this version takes a much different approach. This is featured not just because of its musical content but it is a story of two bands with a shared history. In 2002, they released a split EP, and it made many MMJ fans discover the songwriting of Jason Molina for the first time. Here is what MMJ lead singer Jim James told NPR after Molina’s passing:
There was this beautiful darkness about the way he expressed himself, both lyrically and musically, that I think went right to the core of what people feel, you know, in an everyday way.
40 Watt Sun – “Lioness” (Cover)
Glen Hansard – “Hold On Magnolia” (Cover)
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