11 Songs That Prove John Darnielle Needs To Be The Next U.S. Poet Laureate

A petition to name the Mountain Goats front man and lyricist as poet laureate is in desperate need of votes. Here are 11 songs that will convince you of his lyrical greatness.

1. “The Fall Of The High School Running Back”

Standout lyrics (the whole song):

Sophomore year
You rushed for an average
Of 8 1/3 yards per carry
All eyes were on you

Junior year
You blew your knee out
At an out-of-town game
Nowhere to go but
Down, down, down
Nothing but the ground
for you to fall to

By July
You’d made a whole bunch of new friends
People you used to look down on
And you’d figured out
A way to make real money
Giving Ns to your friends
And it felt stupendous:
Chrome spokes on your Japanese bike
But selling acid was a bad idea
And selling it to a cop was a worse one
And new laws said that
17-year-olds could do federal time
You were the first one,
so I sing this song for you
William Standaforth Donahue
Your grandfather rode the boat
Over from Ireland, but
You made a bad decision or two.

2. “Amy AKA Spent Gladiator 1”

Standout Lyrics:

Do every stupid thing that makes you feel alive
Do every stupid thing to drive to drive the dark away
Let people call you crazy for the choices that you make
Find limits past the limits
Jump in front of trains all day

And stay alive
Just stay alive

3. “Going To Georgia”

Standout Lyrics:

The most remarkable thing about coming home to you is the feeling of being in motion again: its the most extraordinary thing in the world.

4. “The Best Ever Death Metal Band Out Of Denton”

Standout Lyrics (the whole song):

The Best Ever Death Metal Band out of Denton
was a couple of guys who’d been friends since grade school
One’s was named Syrus, the other was Jeff,
and they practiced twice a week in Jeff’s bedroom
The Best Ever Death Metal Band out of Denton
never settled on a name
But the top three contenders after weeks of debate
were Satan’s Fingers, and The Killers, and the Hospital Bombs

Jeff and Syrus believed in their hearts
they were headed for stage lights and lear jets and fortune and fame
So in script, they made prominent use of a pentagram,
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they stencilled their drumheads and guitars with their names
And this was how Syrus got sent to the school
where they told him he’d never be famous
And this was why Jeff, in the letters he’d write to his friend,
helped develop a plan to get even
When you punish a person for dreaming his dream,
don’t expect him to thank you or forgive you
The Best Ever Death Metal Band out of Denton
will in time both outpace and outlive you

Hail Satan, Hail Satan tonight
Hail Satan, Hail Hail


Standout Lyrics:

I broke free on a Saturday morning
I put the pedal to the floor
headed north on mills avenue
and listened to the engine roar

My broken house behind me
And good things ahead
A girl named Cathy
Wants a little of my time
Six cylinders underneath the hood
Crashing and kicking
Listen to the engine whine

I am going to make it through this year
If it kills me
I am going to make it though this year
If it kills me

6. “Woke Up New”

Standout Lyrics:

The first time I made coffee for just myself,
I made too much of it.
But I drank it all,
Just ‘cause you hate it when I let things go to waste.
And I wandered through the house, like a little boy lost at the mall.
And an astronaut could’ve seen the hunger in my eyes from space.

And I sang oh
What do I do?
What do I do?
What do I do?
What do I do without you?

7. Aesop Rock - “Coffee (ft. John Darnielle)”

Standout Lyrics:

Darnielle’s guest verse at the end of the song

I crawled down to the basement
When the weather got cold,
Like a lost lamb returning to the fold,
And when the outside world recedes from view,
It’s just a year’s supply of make-up
And memories of you,
1967 colt 45, holding back the vampires,
Keeping me alive,
There’s an envelope with some cash in it
Out by the front door,
This is what they make you take the medication for.

8. “Color In Your Cheeks”

Standout Lyrics:

He drove from in from Mexicali, no worse for wear.
Money to burn, time to kill.
But five minutes looking in his eyes and we all knew he
Was broken pretty bad, so we gave him what we had.
We cleared a space for him to sleep in,
and we let the silence that’s our trademark
Make its presence felt.
Come on in, we haven’t slept for weeks.
Drink some of this. it’ll put color in your cheeks.

9. “You Or Your Memory”

Standout Lyrics:

I ducked behind the drapes when I saw the moon begin to rise,
Gathered in my loose ends switched off the light.
And down there in the dark I can see the real truth about me.
As clear as day, lord if I make it through tonight
Then I will mend my ways and walk the straight path to the end of my days.

St. Joseph’s baby aspirin,
Bartles and Jaymes,
And you or your memory.


Standout Lyrics:

Floor two foot high with newspapers,
White carpet thick with pet hair,
Half eaten gallons of ice cream in the freezer,
Fresh fuel for the sodium flares,
I write down good reasons to freeze to death
In my spiral ring notebook,
But in the long tresses of your hair
I am a babbling brook.


Standout lyrics (the whole song):

I hope that our few remaining friends
Give up on trying to save us
I hope we come out with a fail-safe plot
To piss off the dumb few that forgave us

I hope the fences we mended
Fall down beneath their own weight
And I hope we hang on past the last exit
I hope it’s already too late

And I hope the junkyard a few blocks from here
Someday burns down
And I hope the rising black smoke carries me far away
And I never come back to this town again in my life

I hope I lie
And tell everyone you were a good wife
And I hope you die
I hope we both die

I hope I cut myself shaving tomorrow
I hope it bleeds all day long
Our friends say it’s darkest before the sun rises
We’re pretty sure they’re all wrong

I hope it stays dark forever
I hope the worst isn’t over
And I hope you blink before I do
And I hope I never get sober

And I hope when you think of me years down the line
You can’t find one good thing to say
And I’d hope that if I found the strength to walk out
You’d stay the hell out of my way

I am drowning
There is no sign of land
You are coming down with me
Hand in unlovable hand

And I hope you die
I hope we both die

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