SOTD – Golden by My Morning Jacket

There are few post-millennium alternative rock bands as well-respected as My Morning Jacket. Most every alternative fan has realized that by now. Their 2003 album “It Still Moves” which featured Golden as one of the title tracks marked this now iconic band’s move to the big leagues, setting the stage for multiple albums cracking Billboard charts over the next 10 years and eventually allowing the well-received re-release of the “It Still Moves” at the beginning of this year. As our friend Henry David Thoreau would commend, My Morning Jacket’s simple yet thoughtful balance of light instrumentals and soulful folk/pop-esque melodies truly embodies the classic phrase “Simply, simplify.”

You can see why My Morning Jacket’s well-rooted respect from the public stems so deep simply by examining the inner workings of what makes Golden a lyrical enigma. As a short story, readers may become frustrated with songwriter Jim James’s writing style given its open-endedness and lack of closure. As a musical expression however, James’s lyrics take on a much more consumable form of art that justifiably raises more questions than it answers. In Golden’s tale of a mourner seeking solace in the loss of a loved one, commonly fruitless destinations like bars numb the afflicted person to the point that listeners crave the knowledge of what caused such a deep emotional hole (“People always told me that bars are dark and lonely and talk is often cheap and filled with air. Sure sometimes they thrill me but nothing could ever chill me like the way they make the time just disappear”). This numbing depressive sensation seems to only be correctable through the eventual theistic view of joining that person after death (“And you always told me: no matter how long it holds me, if it falls apart or makes us millionaires. You’ll be right here forever, we’ll go through this thing together and on Heaven’s golden shore we’ll lay our heads”). Despite the open endedness and the thousands of questions that can be brought up in relation to missing details within this short tale, listeners accept the gap of information with simple varying nuances within James’s soothing vocal tone that suggest that the whole story was never meant to be known.

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