20 for ’15 – The Mountain Goats – Heel Turn 2

Part 13 of a 20 part rundown of my favourite tracks of 2015

My biggest regret of 2015 was having to give up 2 tickets to finally, finally catch the Mountain Goats live in Bristol in November. I bought the tickets 6 months in advance. Everything was planned. I’d waited so long to get the chance to bellow along with John Darnielle, and then..

Life, eh?

Still, at least I got another fine album to listen to Beat the Champ might not be his best ever record but it was packed with highlights, great choruses, memorable one-liners. It’s up there with some of his best despite being an album entirely about wrestling of all things. Darnielle manages to find the human drama in things – Heel Turn 2 is sung from the point of view of a babyface tired of not being on top and, as the title suggests, turning heel. There aren’t many songwriters who can turn that into something that sounds deeply personal – I imagine there are legions of fans singing,“Throw my better self overboard/shoot him when he comes up for air/become unhinged/get revenge/I don’t wanna die in here,” as if it was written for them and them alone. I wouldn’t know of course. Sigh.

It almost feels trite at this point to say that Darnielle is one of the best songwriters of his generation. But in case you don’t already know that – he is. he really is. See for yourself – you owe it to yourself to find out just how good he is.

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