If anyone was to know anything about me, it would be that The Mountain Goats are my favourite band. In fact, you will be exposed to them whether you like it or not throughout the entirety of this list, as they have the highest amount of tracks included in this 1000 songs countdown. I could, and frequently do, talk for hours about The Mountain Goats and how much I love the music made by them, but for the sake of brevity, I will exercise restraint and attempt to get to the point here as quickly as possible. (Also, for those who may take issue with it, I am aware that the correct spelling of the band’s name is to use a lowercase ‘the’, however, I am a slave to correct grammatical conventions, and as such, I will write it using correct grammar, despite how much my fanaticism is pained by doing so.)
I was already a fan when I first discovered this song, in fact, I believe this record, Heretic Pride, was one of the first records by The Mountain Goats that I bought. However, the record didn’t appeal to me as much as records like The Sunset Tree did, so I shelved it for a while. In hindsight, the record was sorely overlooked by myself, as there is a multitude of amazing tracks on the album; ‘Sax Rohmer #1′, ‘Autoclave‘, and ‘Marduk T-Shirt Men’s Room Incident‘, to name a few.
However, in the time between not enjoying the record initially and my rediscovery of it, I discovered the track ‘Lovecraft In Brooklyn’ through some strangely roundabout ways. 2011 was my second year of university, and at the beginning of that year I stumbled upon a website in which people shared stories of mixtapes that previous lovers had made for them. Some folks had shared the full tracklists of mixtapes that they had made, and I did my best to recreate them for my own listening pleasure. Of course, devoid of any meaning, these listens were hollow at best, but from a purely aural point of view, they got the job done.
One particular mixtape, entitled Flash And A Half-Dozen Bridges featured this track. Sandwiched between Commander Venus’ ‘Do You Feel At Home‘, and Taking Back Sunday’s ‘Little Devotional‘ was ‘Lovecraft In Brooklyn.’ It’s a far heavier track than anything else The Mountain Goats had, or have since released. As frontman, and my personal idol, John Darnielle states proudly, “[This] is the loudest I’ve ever sung on a record.”
As the press kit that accompanied Heretic Pride explains; “American horror icon H. P. Lovecraft moved to Red Hook, Brooklyn to be with the woman he loved. He had never really seen any people who were not white folks from Massachusetts. Immigrants were spilling into Brooklyn from the four corners of the globe. Lovecraft’s xenophobia during his time in Brooklyn resulted in some of the weirdest, darkest images in all American literature. One must condemn Lovecraft’s ugly racism, of course, but his not-unrelated inclination toward of general suspicion of anything that’s alive is pretty fertile ground.”
The track shows off a severe level of paranoia, unsettling unfamiliarity, and yet manages to serve well as a standalone rock song, if of course you can ignore the lyrical complexity at work. I still have to give applause to Darnielle for his casual brilliance at writing such an inconsequential, yet perfectly fitting line of “Some kid in a Marcus Allen jersey asks me for a cigarette. Companionship is where you find it, so I take what I can get.” The line again shows off the unfamiliarity of someone like H.P. Lovecraft coming into a place such as Brooklyn, and attempting to unsuccessfully fit in.
Additionally, the Aesop Rock remix of this track is one I highly recommend. After Darnielle appeared with Aesop Rock on his 2007 track ‘Coffee‘, Aesop Rock returned the favour by remixing ‘Lovecraft In Brooklyn’. One doesn’t expect it to work, but it works better than one could ever hope for.