Jason Molina, the songwriter behind Songs:Ohia and the Magnolia Electric Co., died this past Saturday at his home in Indianapolis at the age of 39. The Ohio native, who between 1997 and 2009 put out several records under those names and his own, had struggled with alcoholism for years. After more than a decade of startlingly prolific songwriting, he mostly disappeared from the public view a few years ago, as his drinking led to stints in rehab and serious health problems.
In late 2011, Henry Owings wrote a column about Molina’s whereabouts, noting that Molina had no health insurance, and that his family was trying to raise money so he could afford real medical help. At the time, Molina was with family, “working on a farm in West Virginia raising goats and chickens.” A few months later, Molina himself took to the web to explain that he was still in recovery, “getting to deal with a lot of things that even the music didn’t want to.”
The music, for Molina, had always dealt with a lot of things—his songs are frequently dark and personal, delivered in a quavery voice that seemed to catch something of his own fragility. Several of them have been making the rounds this morning as word has gotten out about Molina’s passing. The one I’ve been listening to over and over is “Nashville Moon.” “I’ve been on that road and it was darkness end to end,” Molina sings, “and I just headed for the dark again.” Rest in peace, Jason.