The Best Song in the World

Guest Post! Quito-The Mountain Goats
February 10, 2009, 8:56 pm
Filed under: The Best Song in the World, Uncategorized


Hey Folks–Thought you might enjoy a voice other than my own…plus I owe you an update. Here’s a guest post from the lovely Scrumptious

You know how you can listen to an album over and over again through the years, maybe humming along, while you drive or cook dinner or clean the house or whatever. You like it, it’s a good or maybe even great album. Maybe there are a couple of songs on there that blow you away or really speak to you.

And then one day you’re listening, you’re cooking or driving or humming along, and suddenly there’s this SONG on there, this amazing song you swear must not have been there the first fifty times you listened. Because you would have noticed. This song you would have noticed. Where has it been? Did the artist sneak into your house last night and add it somehow?

You know what I’m talking about, I know you do. Is there a word for this phenomenon? Probably not, so I’ll coin one right now. I’m calling it the “hiding track.” Not the “hidden track,” that usually inferior thing snuck onto an album but left off the liner notes. The Hiding Track. It waits for you quietly, like the magic bookshop in stories, only appearing when the time is right for you to hear it.

I had We Shall All Be Healed by The Mountain Goats, a good album by a great band, in fairly consistent once-a-month-or-so rotation from 2004, when it was released, to one night in 2008, when I was cooking dinner or driving or cleaning the house and IT appeared. I don’t even remember what I was doing at the time – you would think I would but it was more like one of those nights where you can remember everything you were doing up to a point but then there’s just a big blank spot and the next thing you know you wake up face down in a corn field surrounded by crop circles.

The song Quito appeared one night and the next thing I knew it was a month later and I was face down in a corn field with a 255-times play count on my iTunes counter.

Should I even attempt to describe it for you? It’s somehow violent and it cuts me open but it also weaves a tight, binding embrace that holds everything together. One night when I thought my heart was breaking and it hurt to breathe and I was afraid if I moved an inch I would shatter I put on my headphones and put Quito on repeat for six hours straight, lying curled on the couch unmoving.

It’s so short it’s almost a throwaway. Maybe that’s why I didn’t notice it for so many years. But there’s a kind of yearning lift to it at the end that begs to have the song begin again immediately, in a cycle of endless repetition that actually makes it infinitely long.

And then we ask, what is he even talking about, with the salmon and the bus? Obviously after 300+ listens I have plenty of ideas, but ultimately, I leave it up to you. Those lyrics are pure John Darnielle, whose magic talent is making words so poignant and recognizable on a gut level that they skim straight past your brain to pierce right into the core of you. Anyways, with those violins pushing and pulling the blood through your veins and the breath in your lungs, the words are just the pretty pictures that flash before your eyes while the sinking black tar pulls you under, under and you start to lose consciousness but it’s all good, it’s all sweet, because you’re being held so tight now by the best song in the world.

Listen here!


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