Dungeons and Castles

As folks who have been around here (or me) know, I get my spiritual direction from the Mountain Goats. And I need it. Today, as I get ready to tell my own story at a gathering about “Navigating the Crisis of Identity,” John Darnielle posted this on the band’s website (language warning on his post):

I love literally everything about my life and I have this probably-dumb-but-what-the-hell mystical sense that if even one small detail of my life had been changed, then everything would be different now, and who’s to say that the things most dear to me wouldn’t have to be traded away in the bargain?


If there’s any point to this story, and I’m not sure there is but, it’s that the songs I sing, which are often about finding ways to call a dark dungeon a glittering castle & really mean it, have some of their genesis in me being a fearful young kid with just enough presence of mind to turn to music as an escape.

That’s what I continually learn from the Mountain Goats.

I can tell you that resurrection glory only comes by way of the cross, but he knows how to mean it better than I do. I confess the sovereignty of the God at work in the world, but with a chastened confession that wants so many things to have gone differently.

In the middle of all that brooding and questioning, there’s often the sense that I know who I am, what I should be, what I should do. But here, too, life is a jumbled contradictory mess. Who is this “I” whose story of identity crisis will be told tonight? I’m not sure I’ve seen yet.

And the Mountain Goats remind me of that as well:

9 thoughts on “Dungeons and Castles”

  1. It’s redundant to say, but I /like this. In fact, the moment I saw that post on my RSS reader I carried my laptop over for Margaret to read it, too.

    Now, if only certain other people were to see the light….

  2. “I confess the sovereignty of the God at work in the world, but with a chastened confession that wants so many things to have gone differently.”

    Thank you for your honesty here and last night at the event, your raw expressions were powerful

      1. I’m actually pretty uneasy about streaming services – I use them to decide what to buy sometimes, but most artists barely get any more money off them. There is a very recent idea in the past couple decades that we have an intrinsic right to listen to as any we want for free at any time (and no, radio is not the same thing). I’m surprised more people haven’t tackled this theologically – for artists who aren’t already big, it is a sort of exploitation.

          1. I actually bought We All Shall Be Healed and have streamed other songs from various albums.

            My concern with streaming services is more of a general concern about its effect on the industry than the Mountain Goats in particular. But this probably wasn’t the place to bring up that rabbit trail. :)

      2. Anyway, I’ve listened to The Mountain Goats some in the past few weeks, and honestly I find them kind of frustrating. Their lyrics aren’t the best, but they’re good and I can certainly see the appeal. But musically, there’s a lot of the sort of weak-melody droning that characterizes indie rock nowadays. And I can tell there’s potential for a great sound there, because sometimes they do write a song with a solid hook.

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