The Mountain Goats have released a tender new song, “Mobile,” from their upcoming album, Dark in Here, out June 25th via Merge.
“Mobile” boasts a nimble mix of guitars and piano, and the lyrics find frontman John Darnielle recounting the Biblical story of Jonah, recast with a Southern twist and ostensibly set on the coastal town of Mobile, Alabama. “I’m on a balcony in Mobile, Alabama, waiting for the wind to throw me down,” Darnielle sings, “Lord, if you won’t keep me safe and warm/Then send down the storm/Send down the storm.”
In a statement, Mountain Goats bassist Peter Hughes offered up his interpretation of Darnielle’s lyrics, saying, “One of my quarantine projects after getting home was going back to Moby Dick and actually finishing it for once, and I was amused to encounter early on the retelling of the story of Jonah. If Melville gives it to us as a fiery 19th century New Bedford sermon, what ‘Mobile” offers might be understood as Father Mapple’s modern-day Gulf Coast flip side, the breeziness of [Will] McFarlane’s electric guitar and Matt Douglas’ accordion belying its protagonist’s guilty conscience.”
The Mountain Goats recorded Dark in Here last year at the iconic Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama (Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Gregg Allman and more have recorded there). The album features two seasoned Muscle Shoals studio vets, McFarlane on guitar and Spooner Oldham on electric piano.
“The Mountain Goats have been playing together as a band long enough to have developed a degree of musical telepathy, but listening to these two guys responding in real-time to us and each other revealed another level of connectedness altogether, one bordering on the supernatural,” Hughes said of working with McFarlane and Oldham. “We ran through most of these songs three times; I’m pretty sure the performance of ‘Mobile’ you’re hearing is a second take.”
The Mountain Goats recorded Dark in Here almost immediately after recording their 2020 album, Getting Into Knives, at another famed studio: Sam Phillips Recording in Memphis. And after making Dark in Here, Darnielle notably spent 10 days writing and recording, Songs for Pierre Chuvin, which was released with the aim of raising money for the Mountain Goats and their touring crew after their live shows were canceled because of the pandemic.