“I lived low enough,” Jason Molina sang desperately on 2006’s Get Out Get Out Get Out, “so the moon wouldn’t waste its light on me.” Secretly Canadian, Molina’s record label, announced on Monday that the singer-songwriter had died as a result of “natural causes” at his home in Indianapolis on Saturday.
Molina, the creative force behind indie-alternative bands Songs: Ohia and Magnolia Electric Co., had struggled with alcoholism for years. He was just 39 years old when his body gave out.
His last release was 2012’s Autumn Bird Songs, an acoustic EP of rough-cut material recorded before several stints in hospitals and rehab centres. In 2011, when the uninsured musician was working on a West Virginia farm raising sheep and chickens, a note was posted on the Magnolia Electric Co. website soliciting funds to help cover medical bills.
Months later, Molina posted his own missive to the same site. “Treatment is good, getting to deal with a lot of things that even the music didn’t want to,” he wrote in the spring of 2012. “I have not given up because you, my friends, have not given up on me. I do still need your support however that takes shape, good vibes are worth more than you might think. Finally, there are actually some musical projects on the distant radar screen, but for those who understand, I am taking this in much smaller steps than I’m used to. Keep the lamps trimmed and burning!”
Molina’s music journey began in 1996 with the formation of Songs: Ohia, a lo-fi indie-rock project of shifting styles and members, with Molina as its leader. Its last record, 2003’s Magnolia Electric Co., provided the name of Molina’s next band, which released three studio albums on Secretly Canadian, an Indiana-based record label with no actual Canadian affiliation, secret or otherwise.
“We’re going to miss Jason,” Secretly Canadian said in a statement posted on its website. “He was generous. He was a one of a kind. And he had a voice unlike any other.”
Secretly Canadian also released Let Me Go, Let Me Go, Let Me Go, a haunting, experimental solo album by Molina, in 2006. On the press sheet, Molina wrote about the songwriting involved, explaining that it was an attempt to put a “serious price on lyrics that are honest not witty, shy but not weak, weary if they are and sad without apology, depression without a fight and depression with a fight.”