John Darnielle Quotes

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'Heel Turn 2' is about a person who's in a match, and he's playing as though the match were real. But it is real! If you're standing in the middle of a ring, and you're playing the villain, and everyone is booing and throwing things at you, that's real.
— John Darnielle

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A band's first album's usually not great. When you made the first album, you had a day job and you were still trying to be serious about it.

John Darnielle

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A book is a journey: It's a thing you agree to go on with somebody, and I think every reader's experience of a book is going to be different.

John Darnielle

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A Cat Stevens record isn't just Cat Stevens' ideas. It's Cat Stevens and all the musicians who play with Cat Stevens, right?

John Darnielle

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A song is fire. You react to it primally, instantly. You don't have to decide whether you like it, and you don't really have to sit down and think about it much after you're done listening to it. It really does run through you like wind.

John Darnielle

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Adulthood is interesting to adults. But I would never want to write about stuff I don't feel everybody can connect to.

John Darnielle

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As an idea occurs to me, I'll either follow it or not, but I'm more instinctive than master-planner about stuff.

John Darnielle

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At 23, you can completely, literally reinvent yourself if you want to.

John Darnielle

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At my high school, there were always kids carrying acoustic guitars around, which is why I named my band the Mountain Goats. I didn't want to seem like one of those guys who brought his guitar to the party whether you asked him to or not.

John Darnielle

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Back in the '90s, if you did mail order in music, you could make a good living doing it if you could hustle.

John Darnielle

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For me, fiction isn't very cathartic. It can be a broad, long catharsis, but it's a whole different thing - whereas music is physical. Essentially, it goes in through your ear. Fiction is cerebral, necessarily. It can do emotional stuff. But they don't really compare - not for me.

John Darnielle

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For me, moving is always a big opportunity. It's just a enough of a shift in outlook that every time I move, it seems to open something up.

John Darnielle

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For years, I've written narrators who aren't gender-identified. When I do autobiographical stuff, that's different, obviously. But I've always tried to keep my songs as potentially not a man's thing.

John Darnielle

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I always assumed people wanted to hear me tell stories, but then I had 'The Sunset Tree.' It turned out, my own stories were the ones that registered with people the hardest.

John Darnielle

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I always worry that I'm a dilettante: I know something about lots of things but don't have exhaustive knowledge of much.

John Darnielle

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I am permanently a student of people who make great songs, but besides sort of learning by absorption, I just love listening to music, hearing what's going on, hearing new things or new old things.

John Darnielle

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I don't have a favorite drink. I don't do favorites of anything, practically.

John Darnielle

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I don't sit down and say I'm going to write a song about this or that. They are never mapped out.

John Darnielle

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I get nostalgic about having lived in Ames, Iowa, even though being a vegetarian in Iowa is not fun. But I really love Durham more than any place I've ever been; some small towns can be really provincial and strangling, but Durham is the best city in the world.

John Darnielle

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I got a promo of 'Nichts Muss' in what would have been 2002 or 2003 and fell totally in love with it after listening to it on an airplane that took me to Australia via Taipei and Kuala Lumpur.

John Darnielle

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I hang out and sign records for an hour or two hours every night, and I like to hear as many people's stories as I can, because if somebody wants to share their story with me, I want to honor that.

John Darnielle

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I know the Bible pretty well. I'm not one of those guys who can immediately start quoting every book, but usually I know where to look to find certain themes.

John Darnielle

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I love Joan Didion, but I love her writing. I don't think meeting her could solve my problems or make me understand the world better.

John Darnielle

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I pretty much just focus on making the records - unless I'm self-releasing them; then I do my own thing. But at some point, you have to stop worrying about chains of distribution, or it takes out of your time to write.

John Darnielle

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I still can't manage to keep a journal, and people have been telling me to since the fourth grade.

John Darnielle

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I think 'The Sunset Tree' is really the album on which I really learned to trust other musicians, which is so important.

John Darnielle

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I think all writing is necessarily autobiographical to a greater or lesser extent, and the less it tries to be confessional, the more likely it is that you're somehow sneaking the things you need to say in there.

John Darnielle

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I think any real one-sheet for an album would say, 'Well, here's what I've been doing.' And that would be it.

John Darnielle

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I think I am a religious person just by nature. I think I sort of view everything through the lens of some inner undying thing in people that drives them to act as they do or to feel ashamed of not acting in some other way.

John Darnielle

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I think I read too much Arthur Conan Doyle when I was young and got this idea that a gentleman should know a lot about one thing and plenty about most everything else.

John Darnielle

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I think the self is complicated, that at various times we are all various people, and wrestling actually does a lot with that. You have things like heel turns where a person goes from being a good guy to a bad guy.

John Darnielle

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I think there are some writers - like, if you read Kerouac, I think you probably need to take a little break before you sit down to the typewriter because he's the type of writer whose voice infects you.

John Darnielle

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I think wrestling is the one that presents theater for people who want to see some theater but don't necessarily have to dress up or be quiet while they're watching.

John Darnielle

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I think youth will always be connected to the strongest music at the time because... I don't want to use the word 'tribal,' but there was this sort of familial affiliation that people would feel with the music they were listening to.

John Darnielle

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I think, taking too long to work on a record, you sort of lose some of the feeling, so I write as fast as I can; it's just this manic phase where I'm by myself and or on tour, and I write, and I write.

John Darnielle

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I try not to write songs in which men glamorize their own need for approval from women. That's kinda a bogus way to go out. But I try to do this quietly. I'm not about to go around telling people how they should or shouldn't think. My feminism is for me.

John Darnielle

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I used to assume no one would care, but I do think now I've written songs that are useful to people having dark hours.

John Darnielle

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I used to break three or four strings a night, and the show would be over because I didn't know how to change the strings.

John Darnielle

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I want to make sure people know I don't think I have any magic powers. I just have a story that I share.

John Darnielle

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I was a huge comic book fan. It's weird because the era of 'Marvel' I was into turns out to be very important in the long run, but it's not the one that anybody romanticizes.

John Darnielle

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I was writing poetry, and the Mountain Goats was an outgrowth of that.

John Darnielle

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I watched 'Fame,' and I just love the choreography. It just gives me a place to be in another zone.

John Darnielle

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I write for a lot of places, so I'm on a lot of promo lists.

John Darnielle

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I write stuff down. I have a chalkboard in the kitchen where I will scrawl stuff down if I have a faint outline of an idea. And I'll go into my office or whatever. But that goes from format to format.

John Darnielle

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I wrote 'Lakeside View Apartment Suites' with Roman in my arms. He was about a month old. I was playing left-handed and finally handed him over. On the demo of it, you can hear him crying in the next room.

John Darnielle

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I'd played with Jon Wurster as a duo just for a lark.

John Darnielle

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I'm finding things out about myself as a person - as a writer - as I write, and so are the people who listen to what I do. But they have this additional aspect of how they take the stuff that I do, and so it broadens the work, and it creates this strange connection.

John Darnielle

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I've written a lot about southern California, but I don't use the same characters. Leave the people in the songs in the songs, is my philosophy.

John Darnielle

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If I go see a band, and they play, like, zero from any of their old albums, I'm very happy about that. I do not want to see the bands of my youth playing the songs of my youth. I hate that.

John Darnielle

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If you show up to work five days in a row, nobody's going to pat you on the back - everyone does that. Well, do that with your writing. Just show up. Be there for it. When you get an idea, write it down somewhere and then be a steward of that idea.

John Darnielle

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'Heel Turn 2' is about a person who's in a match, and he's playing as though the match were real. But it is real! If you're standing in the middle of a ring, and you're playing the villain, and everyone is booing and throwing things at you, that's real.

John Darnielle