Lots of musicians have taken a crack at Jason Molina’s music, particularly since we lost the legendary Songs: Ohia/Magnolia Electric Co. frontman to alcohol-inflicted organ failure two years ago. But I haven’t heard a Molina cover I like as much as John Vanderslice’s rendition of “Long Dark Blues,” the demo that would eventually blossom into all-time classic Magnolia Electric Co. opener “Farewell Transmission.” Vanderslice is a very different kind of indie-rock auteur, but his spare, choral, synth-pop treatment stays true to the spirit of the original while spinning it out into an entirely new direction. It sounds like a Molina song, a Vanderslice song, and nothing I’ve ever heard. Vanderslice offered this explanation to Spin via email:
I really dislike covers. Usually they are too deferent to the source, too timid. They need to be a reaction to or an undermining of the original. This song was originally commissioned for a Molina comp and was rejected; I wasn’t surprised… Everyone hears the confessional folk, the Oldham, and the On The Beach-era Neil Young in Molina. I heard the Pink Floyd, the drugs, and the loneliness.
The cover will be included on an upcoming reissue of Vanderslice’s Mass Suicide Occult Figurines. Hear it below.
The Mass Suicide Occult Figurines reissue is out 5/19 on The Native Sound. Pre-order it here.