Jason Molina (1973-2013)

Jason Molina (right) and The Spineriders (Todd on guitar and Carl on Drums, Mike McCartney not pictured) in a Lorain, Ohio garage.

This weekend the world of music was saddened at the news of Jason Molina’s passing. Jason was an Ohioan (and fellow Lorainite) and was an amazing songwriter, musician, and human being making beautiful music throughout his life under his name along with the projects Magnolia Electric Co. and Songs:Ohia. Our thoughts are with his family and friends during this difficult time. Here at Aquabear Legion the news was especially devastating. Aquabear was started by myself and Todd Jacops back in 2004, and Todd grew up with Jason in Lorain and they were very close friends. Jason and Todd (along with Carl Raponi and Mike McCartney) started their musical careers in The Spineriders and Todd later joined Jason in his first years with Songs:Ohia, playing on the self titled “Black Album” and touring across the country. They were very close friends, spending their formative years in the halls of Admiral King (a school I would later attend myself) and playing in rock and roll bands, so as you can imagine this already crushing reality was even harder to comprehend. I cannot even begin to imagine how hard this is for Jay’s family and friends.

Myself, I only met Jason a few times. But his impact and influence on me were far reaching, in fact you can see it right here on this website. Jason Molina was not only an amazing songwriter, I could identify with his point of view because he was from the same place as me. Finding out at the age of 16 that someone who was from Lorain could be a musician and put out records and tour the country was like lightning. In addition to a deep appreciation of his music and a peripheral connection through very close friends and a couple handshakes over the years, I also was connected to Jason through the same ways one is to anyone from their hometown: his father was my junior high Science teacher at Lorain Middle School and his sister married one of my brother’s best friends. It was always amazing to me when friends of mine would find out (often because it was something I could gloat about in regard to my hometown) that I had met Jason Molina and we were from the same face, and then watch them get blown away when they found out Todd Jacops had played drums on that first Songs:Ohia album. That was the impact Songs:Ohia and Magnolia Electric Co. had on people who loved music, those songs hold some powerful weight to anyone who listens and it is a shared experience between me and most all of my friends and peers.  These were songs that I listened to in times of great pain (the final Magnolia Electric Co. album Josephine was on repeat for me during the loss of my own grandmother a few years back) and in times of joy (the fantastic “The Dark Don’t Hide It” closed on the mix cd I gave my wife Sherri for our first anniversary, while the next track on What Comes After the Blues “The Night Shift Lullaby” opened the one I gave her on our second anniversary). This was one of our generation’s finest songwriters, one hell of a musician, and from my encounters and those whose opinions I trust well, an amazing human being.

It’s been a tough week here. And while I think losing someone you care about is an incredibly difficult process, those who made a real impact are never far from your mind. The amount of beautiful songs left behind by Jay are plentiful, albums and albums of wonderful music to remember him with, along countless b-sides and live bootlegs and what I’m sure will be even more of those to come. His art will not be lost, this is music that will continue to survive on and on, with countless other 16 year olds finding copies of Jason’s albums at crucial moments in the their life.

Thank you Jason for your songs. Rest in peace friend.

“Thunder Junkie” by The Spineriders
featured on the Refugee Records Compilation.