Jason Molina of Magnolia Electric Company and Songs: Ohia dead at 39 | Bleader

Jason Molina of Magnolia Electric Company and Songs: Ohia dead at 39



Magnolia Electric Company (Jason Molina, second from right)
  • Will Claytor
  • Magnolia Electric Company (Jason Molina, second from right)
Extraordinarily talented singer-songwriter Jason Molina (known best for the music he made as Songs: Ohia and Magnolia Electric Company) died on Saturday night in Indianapolis at age 39. According to his longtime record label, Secretly Canadian, his death was from natural causes, but Molina's good friend Henry Owings of Chunklet writes that he "died from a body that had been drowned in alcohol for years on end." Molina had been largely absent from the music scene since 2009, when his alcoholism became overwhelming. A couple years ago Secretly Canadian published a note about Molina's situation and urged fans to contribute money to aid in his recovery. A few months later Owings published a much more explicit explanation of what was going on. Molina spent years living in Chicago and working with local musicians, and lots of people here were pulling for him.

I wrote about Molina once in the Reader, and I was impressed by his candor and lack of pretense—he poured himself into his work. (It's a little chilling now to read Bob Mehr's 2006 piece in the Reader, which includes the sentence, "For Molina, songwriting is like an addiction, though it's hard to argue that it's been unhealthy for him.") His last album (not counting a solo effort released in 2012 but recorded much earlier) was under the Magnolia Electric Company name; Josephine (Secretly Canadian) came out in 2009. That was before he hit rock bottom—where he pretty much stayed for the remainder of his tragically short life—and it proved yet again how thoroughly he'd mastered his country-rock idiom. Molina's music is emotionally rich, his voice barely containing the feeling it transmits.

Below you can listen to the title track from Josephine. Molina left behind a ton of beautiful music for us to remember him by, but it's still incredibly sad that his abused body gave out on him and kept him from making more.

Correction: This post has been updated to reflect the fact that Molina died at age 39.

Today's playlist:

Waylon Jennings, Lonesome, On'ry and Mean (RCA Nashville/BMG Heritage)
David S. Ware, Organica (Solo Saxophones, Volume 2) (Aum Fidelity)
Alex Hoffman, Dark Lights (Smalls)
Pauline Oliveros, Reverberations: Tape & Electronic Music 1961-1970 (Important)
Various artists, The Birmingham Sound: the Soul of Neal Hemphill Vol. 2 (Rabbit Factory)